Boundaries: How to Say No and Take Control of Your Life

If you want to create real relationships and gain control, join me today at my Monday webinar where we will discuss boundaries. This will be a two-part series to learn how we can prevent others from violating our space and how to do it from a place of love.

Most often people get confused about what boundaries are and what they are not. I would like for you to think about boundaries as a way we take care of and protect ourselves rather than something we create for other people.

Boundaries are not about controlling others. As I shared in my last webinar and message, people are free to behave and be who they want to be. Instead, boundaries are a way that we take care of and protect ourselves. We create them for ourselves to carry out and control.

Think about your house. Your fence is a clear physical boundary around your home. Most people would see it and know not to cross the fence unless they were invited. Most boundaries are not as clear cut as a fence.

There are also social and cultural boundaries. For example, hitting someone or touching them against their will is a known boundary. This type of a boundary is not as clear as a fence, but the chances of someone punching you in the face is slim. It’s an established cultural norm. We don’t tell people not to punch us. It’s an unspoken boundary.

Other personal boundaries are not clearly established. For example, if when your ex-spouse drops off your child, he or she walks right into your home without an invitation, that may be unacceptable. In this example, you need to establish a clear boundary to preserve your privacy and maybe your sanity (ha-ha).

If your ex always did this during the divorce, he or she may think it is still ok to continue this behavior. In fact, they may not be aware that you find it uncomfortable or that a boundary is being violated.

Here is what you should consider doing:

Define what your boundaries are, why you want them and if they are for the right reason. In this case, you want your ex to stop walking into your home uninvited as it makes you feel uncomfortable having him in your private space and may also be sending a message to your child that this type of behavior is acceptable. These are good reasons and valid for boundary setting.
Now that you know the boundary makes sense you have to clearly communicate them. We cannot presume that someone else necessarily knows the boundary we want to establish. It is your responsibility to share your boundaries in a way that is understood. In this case, placing the requested boundary in writing (i.e. email) might be best.
Next, set forth the consequence clearly if the boundary is not respected. This is the action that you can take to assure that your boundary is respected. In our example, you would explain that if he or she does this again, you will take their name off the guest list at the gate and they will be required to be called in by security each time they drop off or pick up your child.

This way you control the situation. Your ex may not enjoy having to be called in each time and that may be enough for him or her to adhere to the boundary request.

Consider wording your boundary like this:

“I appreciate your dropping off John at the end of your timesharing. However, I prefer that you not walk him into my home without being invited. The next time you walk in, I will have to remove you from the guest list and require you be called in like all other visitors. I thank you for respecting this request.”

It’s important to remember that our boundary requests can be ignored. In fact, it’s possible and likely in many situations. But here you have the power to take action (i.e. like taking someone off the guest list).

Your request should always be worded with:
making the request
explaining what you will do if it is not followed
following through

Follow through is no yelling or making an issue but taking control of the situation yourself.

Another example could be your ex raising his/her voice. If this is not acceptable, you could say, “If you continue to yell at me, I am going to hang up the phone.” No long drawn out reason why or chastising or blame casting is needed. Instead just a clear if you do this, I will do this. Plain and simple.

Many of my client’s expend a lot of energy trying to change people in their lives. But remember, as we discussed last time, people don’t come with “manuals” of how they are supposed to behave. Adults get to do and act as they want. All the power comes from you. You make the request, you give them the option to do whatever they would like to do, and then you follow through on your action if they fail to do as you requested.

A lot of people want to make requests with things that are not boundary violations. For example, you may want someone to do something like be romantic or remember your birthday or call you during the day. These are not boundary issues, and therefore, boundaries are not appropriate in these situations.

This is an important subject so will continue to discuss it next week when I will further get into:
What is an appropriate boundary?
The importance of following through
How saying no and establishing boundaries is a great way of taking care of ourselves
How boundaries can enhance our relationships and bring them to a greater sense of intimacy.
I look forward to exploring this more and as always am here later today during my webinar to answer questions and discuss specific examples.

Click here to RSVP to join me at 4pm EST today for a deeper discussion about boundaries and the opportunity to answer any questions you may have.

Stay healthy in mind and body

Doreen Yaffa
Board Certified Marital & Family Attorney, Life Coach

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