Learn the Power of Boundaries

Joyce Weiss

"It feels good when people ask us to do things we're good at," says Joyce Weiss, M.A.,C.S.P., and conflict resolution consultant. "Our egos are stroked. We like it when other people need us."

Boundaries? What Boundaries?
"We had boundaries as kids," Joyce points out. "Come home when the streetlights come on. No TV until your homework is completed." Too often, though, we don't set them for ourselves as adults. "Think about recent commitments and make a list of duties you wish you had said no to. This can help you prepare a response for the next time. Finally, politely but firmly enforce your boundaries. If you set boundaries and people still take advantage, it's your fault. you get what you tolerate."

Family Boundaries
Shannon, a busy working mother, wanted to return to school to earn her degree. She knew the extra hours would affect her family, so she called a family meeting. "She explained it was a two-year commitment," Joyce recounts. "Her kids would need to make their own lunches and life might be a little more stressful. The payoff was a better job for Shannon, allowing the family to have money for the vacation they wanted, or for her kids to attend college. They agreed to her plan. To this day, when they complain, she reminds them about that meeting. That's Shannon's boundary, and it's working.

Work Boundaries
Do you have a co-worker who stops by your desk, seeking help for her projects and leaving you with less time for your own? "Use 'I' language to deflect them," suggests Joyce. "For example, 'I'm frustrated ... because I'd love to help you out, but I'm too busy.' Or set a time limit: 'I can give you five minutes, because I have a meeting at three.'"

Friendship Boundaries
What about that friend whose number on your caller ID makes you groan? These energy vampires are talkaholics, and it's all about them and what they need. You don't have to pick up the phone. Or you can say up front, 'I'm tied up this week; I'll be glad to call you back or email you."

As Wise Women, we encounter demands for our time and energy from many directions. When those demands become too much, the continual stress can lead to an array of health problems. Create and enforce boundaries to help manage your stress levels, and you will feel better about the commitments you make. It can mean a longer, healthier, happier life.

Joyce Weiss - coach, consultant, and facilitator
Copyright 2012 Author retains ownership. All Rights Reserved

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