For years, I had a really hard time saying “no” to people and prided myself on being the woman everyone could count on. But it seemed like no matter how much I gave, there was always someone or something that needed my time and energy. Over time, it left me feeling depleted, exhausted, and resentful.
Although I didn’t know it, I really needed healthy boundaries in my life. By the time I had this realization, my health had gone downhill and I had completely crashed. I had no choice but to create some healthy boundaries. My goal is to empower women to create healthy boundaries before they have a major wake-up call that has a lasting negative impact on their life. To get you started, here are three types of boundaries every go-to woman needs to have:
Personal - I like to think of personal boundaries as guidelines other people must follow in order to interact with me. They are the physical, emotional, and mental lines we draw to protect ourselves and our energy. For example, I have a personal boundary that I automatically say “no” to anyone who tries to guilt or manipulate me into doing something. This trains those closest to me to be more direct and respectful about asking for favors, which is much less draining to my energy. A good way to know if a personal boundary is being violated is how you feel when someone asks you for something. If it doesn’t feel good to say “yes”, chances are you should be saying “no”. If we repeatedly don’t listen to our feelings, our energy becomes depleted and we lose our zest for life. Over time, not setting personal boundaries can lead to serious consequences on our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health. Don’t worry if it feels difficult at first. After implementing even just one personal boundary, you’ll start to reap the rewards and gain confidence in the value of setting them.
Professional - Go-to women have a tendency to be the star players in the office. Much like their personal lives, their co-workers and clients know they can count on them to get the job done. Unfortunately, this often leaves go-to women susceptible to overworking and taking responsibility for tasks that aren’t part of their job. Some examples of professional boundaries include how you choose to approach your work hours (i.e. I only work from 9-5, I don’t answer email after I’ve left the office, I don’t return calls on the weekends, etc.), what specific tasks you are willing to take responsibility for, and how people can go about communicating with you at work. Professional boundaries can get a bit tricky in some ways, as many go-to women are triggered by the idea of underperforming. Know that if you are constantly working yourself to the bone in order to perform well, it’s bound to catch up to you. This will create unnecessary chaos in your life and force you to create boundaries later. Don’t wait until it’s too late to create your professional boundaries. Even if you slowly add them, one boundary at a time.
Emotional - Many women are experts at being able to put themselves in the shoes of others. This is often why we are so committed to helping others in the first place. We can intuitively feel when others are struggling, which motivates us to “fix” their problem. Unfortunately, this can lead us to take responsibility for other people’s emotions and lives. Instead of allowing others to experience their pain and learn their own lessons, we choose to “save” them from their problem because it is painful for us to watch them struggle. Remember, pain often serves as the catalyst to motivate people to change. “Saving” people from that pain can actually interfere with them creating that change. One of the greatest gifts you can give people is the space to figure out how to solve their own struggles instead of “saving” them. This is especially true for the people in your life who are constantly creating the same problems over and over again. Setting healthy emotional boundaries will not only empower those around you to make their own lives work, but will also leave you with a lot more energy.
For a really long time, the idea of creating healthy boundaries in my life absolutely terrified me. I was scared that I would lose all my friends and clients and that people wouldn’t respect me as much. While some of my friends and clients did fall away, they were replaced with people that did value and respect my time. The temporary pain of learning to set boundaries was well worth it. To begin doing so yourself, start with setting one boundary in each category and go from there. Once you experience the energy and happiness that is created from setting healthy boundaries, you’ll wonder why you didn’t set them sooner!
What is the first boundary you are going to create in your life?