Thursday, March 21, 2013

Build boundary-setting muscles

How comfortable are you saying what you think and feel? Do you censor yourself regularly because you're worried about what others may think of you if you express your opinion? Do you find yourself saying what you know others will want to hear (and then kick yourself afterward because you're resentful and angry)? Are you always doing what others want or expect—never what you want to do?

Boundary issues are tricky. But, just as boundaries are important to landowners, to states and to nations, they are important to us in our human relations as well.

If you have a problem setting boundaries, know you aren't alone. Know, too, that you can change that. Begin with small steps. Choose someone who is safe for you to begin learning how to set boundaries. Say, for example, that your husband always selects the movies you see together. You might start by finding one that you really want to see and suggesting that you'd like to see it with him. If he resists or calls it a "chick flick," you might gently remind him that you went to see that action movie he really wanted to see last month. You can say that you'll be happy to go with him to his favorite movies and that you would like him to see yours with you, too. It may take a few conversations and a few attempts before this works. After all, when you change your behavior and it necessarily means a change on someone else's part, they'll often resist. Don't give up, though.

Any change in behavior requires lots of practice. It's not unlike working out at the gym; you have to build up those boundary-setting muscles! It is so worth doing, however. You'll have less resentment; and in the end, the other person will be the recipient of your joy and contentment, too.

If this is something you'd like to work on, please feel free to contact me for a no-obligation, complimentary strategy session.

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