Here’s a little secret about boundariesBoundaries in relationships are hard to hold. They are hard for you to hold. They are hard for other people to hold.  ( Glossary definition of boundaries )

So when we are talking about boundaries, we need to start, explore, create and finish with this in mind. Boundaries are hard to hold. 

When we start with this knowledge, our expectations change. It changes the pressure we put on ourselves. Have you ever created a boundary and fallen at the first hurdle? Then berated yourself for not being strong? Or worse, used this as evidence that boundaries don’t work for you?

Yep, me too. 

So now that the secret is out in the open, let’s talk about creating boundaries in relationships. 

This will look different for each of us.

Work out what is driving you nuts. What is it that you won’t or can’t do anymore? This might be not working after hours or cooking dinner every night. It might be prioritising what you want to do over what others want to do e.g. saying no to that family commitment. 

Get clear on what the boundary is, when it happens and what you are going to do about it. Create a script so that you know what you are going to say. Rehearse it in your head. 

Now that we have set the boundary and communicated it, the fun really starts. When you are doing this next part, go in with the expectation that there will be pushback. That people will ‘test’ you. They will complain, be passive-aggressive, make you feel guilty, get frustrated or even angry. 

Because you know the secret though, this behaviour isn’t going to throw you. It isn’t going to make you second guess yourself. You know it will happen, you expected it to happen and guess what it did!

Now you might want to cave. At this point, you might think it’s too hard. You may give in or you may push back. Either way, you are winning. This is what progress with boundaries looks like. 

You aren’t doing it wrong. Others don’t find it easier than you. It’s just that no one ever told you the secret. 

Remember, caving is part of the learning. 

Pushing back is part of the learning.

Don’t let that stop you from creating the boundaries, communicating them loudly and practising holding them often.