Although everyone needs personal boundaries, women are the caretakers of the world and ironically, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to a point of being drained until we can no longer take care of anyone, including us. We must care for ourselves first in order to be there for others, right?
There is a happy medium between being selfish and being selfless and I'm going to show you what it is!
At one time or another, we have all felt less than empowered by something someone else said or did. Wouldn't you agree? What do you do when someone is disrespectful to you? What do you do when being around someone gives you the creeps? Have you repeatedly put yourself in a situation where you emerged feeling worse that you did beforehand? Did you know it would happen but “didn't want to offend anyone, " by making waves or backing out?
We've all been there and if you are ready to create a more empowered future with more respect from yourself and others, greater self-esteem and much more peace of mind and laughter, you will definitely need to establish and enforce personal boundaries! They are the keys to much of our happiness yet so often overlooked.
How to Establish Personal Boundaries
First of all, let's determine what is okay with you and what isn't. That would be acceptable people, places and situations and unacceptable people, places and situations. You probably know several of them already. Decide what empowers you and what weakens you by picturing a person, place or certain situation and noticing the feeling in your gut. This is the quickest way to know if something or someone is beneficial or detrimental to you as a woman.
We will get into gut feelings in depth in the #5 Personal Safety Secret for Women but for right now, the first thing you feel is what you want to go with, good or bad. If you have an indifferent feeling, put it in the “good" category. If you have a good gut feeling about the person, place or situation it is put on the acceptable list. If you have a bad gut feeling, that person, place or situation is put on the unacceptable list.
Where to Put Personal Boundaries
You now have an acceptable list and an unacceptable list. Next, picture yourself in the middle of a circle. The line of the circle extends approximately 18-24 inches from your body. Picture the acceptable people, places and situations inside the circle with you and all of the unacceptable people, places and situations outside the circle.
You might have heard or said something like, “He got in my space, " or “She stepped over the line, " right? The space is the space inside your circle. It is your personal space and I am giving you permission to protect it. The line is your personal boundary line between what is acceptable and unacceptable to you. So, now you will have a visual the next time someone talks about “the line" or “my space" though if is more of a saying than actually understood my the person speaking it.
About Enforcing Personal Boundaries
First of all, enforcement of personal boundaries is easiest when you first meet someone because they don't have to change their behavior. When someone you have known for a long time suddenly learns that you will not be putting up with the disrespectful way they speak to you anymore they are not happy. However, you may have had people like this in your life at one time or another and it is impossible to reach your true potential with them knocking you down all the time. Some of them will leave your life, others will respect you and stay.
Sore Losers vs. Those Who Truly Care
Why would someone you've known forever leave your life just because you choose not to be mistreated by them anymore? Because they are in the attacker mindset (Personal Safety Secrets #1) and you just stopped playing their game. People who care about you will be happy to adjust their behavior so that you feel better and many will appreciate the heads up; not realizing they had been inconsiderate in the past.
As you can see, establishing personal boundaries is a breeze compared to enforcing them. It takes guts to stand up for yourself and others will either respect it or resent your ability to do so.
How to Enforce Personal Boundaries
If someone speaks to you disrespectfully and you have just deemed it as unacceptable, you need to determine what you will say or do the next time it happens. Here are some options (none of which include guarantees):
"When you speak to me in that tone of voice I feel like you don't respect me. Is that how you wanted me to feel?"
In this response, you are putting the ball in the other person's court. They have two options: confirm they wanted you to feel bad or apologize and change their behavior.
Note: Remember that you are not saying, “You make me feel. . . " because no one can make you feel a certain way without your permission. That means they can inspire or threaten you into feeling a certain way but you are in control of your own feelings. (This is uncomfortable for some people to swallow because it means taking responsibility for their thoughts, behavior and current situation in life. )
If your teen is speaking to you disrespectfully, you may choose to be more forceful in saying something like, “Speak to me with respect. Anything else is unacceptable. "
The key is determining what you will do or say ahead of time. This is how we protect ourselves. Establishing personal boundaries includes figuring out how we handle the boundary breakers. The best part is that since you know what is acceptable and unacceptable, you can see when someone is getting close to “getting in your space" or “crossing the line" so that you can prevent it!
If you determine that an annual holiday party gets wild each year by 11:00 pm, your personal boundary may be to attend until 10:30 pm.
Maybe a person at work tells you an uncomfortable amount of personal information so you tell him or her that you appreciate that they consider you a friend to share their life with but that you will feel more comfortable keeping your relationship on more of a business level. Realize that the person who shares too much personal info seeks attention and will probably be mad at you and may even talk behind your back after you enforce your personal boundary. Why would he or she do this? Because it will get them attention. Consider the source and the reason people are pushing your buttons in the first place. There is always more to it than meets the eye. Trust your gut feelings above all else.
Where is the Empowering Part of Personal Boundaries?
I'm glad you asked! When you are treated with the respect you deserve and treat others in kind, you will be amazed at how long you allowed yourself to live without this natural high! How you see yourself improves. How others see you improves. You feel stronger knowing you have the right to protect yourself from verbal, mental, emotional and physical attacks. Your life gets much simpler because there are rules and those who choose not to abide by them are not a problem for you anymore. Remember, you have to have your own back before you can expect anyone else to. You must nourish and care gently for yourself before you can care deeply for others. You deserve to be happy. Do you lose some “friends, " acquaintances and others in your life? Yes. But were they friends if they mistreated you? No. Do family relationships get an overhaul? Many times, yes but refer to the answer to the previous question.
Live the Life You Deserve
In order to be who you need and want to be; in order to accomplish your life purpose, you need to feel whole, important and qualified to live your best life. This means protecting yourself from attack. Unclear about your life's purpose? You will see how much more clearly you see after you respect yourself enough to establish and enforce personal boundaries. It is the #4 personal safety secret for women!
Bonus Safety Tip: Although fitting in and having lots of friends sounds enticing, quality is always more important than quantity with regard to your emotional safety. And now I would like to offer you free access to printed and audio versions of the “Seven Deadly Personal Safety Mistakes" when you subscribe to my free weekly Safety Quick Tips; a 52 week newsletter on Personal Safety. You can get your instant access at http://www.PersonalSafetyTrainer.com