Written by Kelly Fumiko Weiss & Laura Weiner-Kiser
In this blog post you will…
There are so many types of boundaries. Emotional boundaries. Physical boundaries. Figurative boundaries. Work boundaries. But there isn’t a lot of understanding about what exactly our own personal boundaries are, how they work, and how to change them.
This week, I’m delighted to bring into Conversations Laura Weiner-Kiser of Change by Challenge. Laura is a personal trainer, mindset & life coach, and an expert on how we can change our mindsets to lead healthier lives.
I think the most important boundaries in my life are the ones I set up to ensure the health of my family life. For example, what hours I work. What I bring home with me after work. What I can do to disconnect from work so the stress doesn’t bleed into my personal life. But I’ve found, there are also the hardest boundaries to keep, especially running my own company and even more so in this digital age where I have a super computer in my pocket at all times. What advice do you give to people to set up boundaries so their work doesn’t bleed into their life?
When giving people tips on boundaries, I get honest. I want them to understand what to expect and how they will experience it so that they can tell when they’re on the right path. So I share my story, boundaries were challenging for me. I was raised to believe taking care of myself or prioritizing my needs was considered selfish. It was really uncomfortable creating boundaries for that reason, but it was also one of the most important actions I took to honor the relationship I want to have with myself. When I was constantly bending for everyone else, it was almost always at a cost to me. NOW, I can help and give from a space of choice rather than obligation or low self worth. It’s a very empowering transition.
I try to help them understand settling boundaries with your family, friends or coworkers actually make their and your life easier. They know what to expect and that eases the mind. I encourage people to set boundaries by establishing what is ok and what isn’t ok with given circumstances. Then find clarity within themselves IF someone crosses the “not ok” line, what will they do about it? Often people are so uncomfortable setting boundaries because they don’t want to experience the emotional discomfort. So I have them start with boundaries within themselves. Start by honoring that relationship and see how it feels, it tends to be motivating.
We spend so much of our time at work. I’ve never met anyone who isn’t stressed out by their jobs. I often find myself so ramped up during the day. I personally get very stressed when I need to get something done but have to wait for someone else to do something very small before I can finish. I also get really stressed when I am expected to work later in the day or into the evening because I am an early bird and prefer to work in the mornings. What boundaries can we create for ourselves to reduce stress in the workplace?
Trying to set workplace boundaries is a very personal journey. However, there are some basics people can look to. The most obvious is the hours of work you are available. That may not be the exact same thing as your start and stop time. Maybe you are available until 4, but you like to close your day finishing emails until 5. You’d communicate that you’re only available until 4. Which brings me to the other KEY boundary so many people miss, communication. It starts with understanding within yourself the type of communication styles you will tolerate and the ones that cross your boundary. We can’t expect people to be mind readers, but when we don’t have clear boundaries around our communication it’s like a game of telephone with miscommunications piling on. Whatever the boundaries, a foundational rule for work boundaries I follow is the 80-20 rule. This is my cut off time 80% of the time. I don’t communicate that, but I am understanding that life is life. It will get messy and I will have to choose moments to cross my boundary. What matters in those scenarios is the choosing.
Understand when you first establish these, it will feel uncomfortable to uphold them. That does NOT mean you’re doing something wrong, it just means you don’t have experience of holding them yet. After a month or so your brain will catch up. That being said, I know some of you might be thinking, if I hold boundaries like this I might lose my job. Maybe, maybe not, but that’s something you’ll have to look at. We get 1 life, and our job is part of that life. Is it playing the role you want it to play? Or are valuing work/money over your own happiness?
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about what boundaries to put up. But what about boundaries to take down? For example, I recently discovered that I put up a lot of boundaries to protect myself from potentially getting burnt out, which often means saying no to things on weeknights or weekends for fear of being too tired to do my work. Which means, I miss out on life events and prioritize work instead. I’m working really hard to readjust my thinking around where my energy goes. What are the boundaries that you think people need to break in order to live less stressful lives?
That’s a very complex question because some boundaries people need to take down are the same ones others need to put up. I would say overall people need to understand the necessary boundaries required in their individual life to feel respected primarily by themselves. That will look different for everyone, but we’re all unique so it’s kind of supposed to. I would also suggest implementing boundaries based on the life you want to live and your value system. For example, I value health, so I wake up early before work to get my workout in. Do I WANT to do that every day, NO WAY! But it is how I want to live my life and it does contribute to me feeling respected by myself. As for boundaries to drop, one’s made that create disconnection out of fear. Fear is a useful emotion, but it’s amplified in our culture because we don’t face many physical threats. If you have a boundary to only talk to people who agree with you, that would breed disconnection and polarization. It’s hard because in today’s culture things have grown heavily polarized. Trying to separate us based on our preferences….who cares if I like ketchup on my hotdog and you prefer mustard… NOBODY. But when it comes to politics we get too heated and we end up creating boundaries that cause disconnection which ultimately amplifies our stress.To that degree looking at boundaries that influence your stress for the better or worse I would also suggest. At the end of the day we need to be able to do an honest self reflection week to week on how we lived our lives and consider how we can better support ourselves.
Thank you, Laura, for this incredible conversation!
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