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Boundaries versus Rules

Have you felt disrespected, frustrated, and angry when someone “crosses your boundary”? Well good news, you are human as we’ve likely all been in this space before. You might be searching for a better way to communicate your boundary and ensure that it is upheld. I want to propose that is has nothing to do with being “better” and everything to do with doing things “differently”.

First up - understanding a rule versus a boundary. A rule attempts to guide the behaviour of others – for example “stop emailing me before 9am,

stop saying that kind of stuff around me, I need you to change this behaviour, etc etc etc”. You see, no one wants to be told what to do, whether you are 3, 43, or 93. Rarely does placing a rule generate a desired outcome for anyone. Why? BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO.

News flash – this isn’t a boundary, it’s a rule. Rules are about guiding and/or forcing the behaviours of others to be in line with ours. The intention of boundaries are more about guiding the behaviours of me, me, myself, and I. For example “I want to let you know that I will not be responding to any messages before 9am” or “If the comments about my body continue to happen at this table, I will not be returning for dinner” or “I love that you want to hug my kids when we are leaving yet I want you to know what we

don’t force hugs from our kids for anyone. You can ask them how’d they like to say goodbye and respect their choices”. You see, the only person that can violate a boundary is you. Boundaries are about guiding your own behaviour based on what is ok and what is not ok. Sometimes that means having a conversation with another person or party and sometimes it means holding a conversation within. Read below to see what this can look like:

Determine your intention/need/why behind the boundary (creating your foundation).

Assess whether it is safe (physically/mentally, emotionally, culturally, etc) to share with the other person or persons (ask yourself “are they in a position to sit in discomfort with me, do they have the emotional maturity to be invited in, can they hold my truth with curiosity and kindness?”)

Depending on the assessment:

If the answer is yes - proceed with the conversation via face to face, phone, text, Facetime, etc (this is an example of a loud boundary - you are sharing it with someone or a set of someone’s). Using a soft start up is key - focus on I statements; “I feel this when this happens because of this and going forward this is what I will be {doing, changing, shifting, etc}”;

If the answer is no you will lean into a quiet boundary - you are keeping a boundary to yourself (you create this for you and you share it with your inner self) about that person or group to either protect yourself, your progress, your energy, or to preserve what is left of the relationship.



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