A while back, I wrote about boundaries and the messages contained in our discomfort, including that something is unworkable, over the line or that we need more information. Discomfort is our body’s way of signalling that we need to take care of us, so learning to listen to and respond to ourselves is crucial to our wellbeing. Here are five next actions that you can take that use feeling uncomfortable as a cue to set better boundaries.
Check in with you and make sure that this is workable.
Acknowledge bandwidth, including energy levels, existing commitments, how you’re feeling, what’s flagging for you. If possible, try to find a solution you can both live with (healthy compromise). If it’s just not workable, you need to say no.
Acknowledge that something is bothering you rather than dismissing concerns to try to make this become your ideal situation.
This is where the power of the pause kicks in. In fact, decide in advance that when you notice feelings, thoughts and situations that suggest that something is or will bother you, you will give yourself time to step back. Instead of doing things on autopilot or rushing into people-pleasing mode, insert a pause so that you can notice yourself. You’re allowing you to get grounded and recognise what you’re feeling and why. Even if you’re unclear about the reason(s) for your discomfort, acknowledging that you are will allow you to be open to noticing subsequent information.
Take some form of action that honours your values.
If you’re out of integrity due to inaction or the way you are going against yourself, you are busting your boundaries. And note: Depending on the type of work you’re doing, it’s possible that this is cutting into your work as well. Is this (whatever you’re doing or about to) taking me towards who I am or away from it?
Be careful—Practise self-care.
Sure, do the thing if you can, want to or must, but do it while also meeting your needs. If you can’t be or do something and also take care of yourself at the same time, that’s a boundary issue that needs resolution sooner rather than later.
Get clarity and/or be clearer.
Ask questions, fill in the blanks, take your time if needed. There is nothing wrong with querying things. Anyone who expects you to agree to their requests wholesale without so much as a question is someone who needs your boundaries the most.
Three must-listen podcast episodes if you’re learning to create and set boundaries:
- Using code amber and red alerts to be more boundaried (ep 197)
- Four steps to help you have an assertive response when you don’t want to do something (ep 205 )
- The Landmarks of Boundaried Communication (ep 193 )