Boundaries, Resilience & How to Say No
People will push your boundaries. They will be violated. The good news is you can prepare for it. Building the resilience that you need to be able to affirm your boundaries and say “No” when it’s needed will help you to prepare. Boundaries don’t happen in a vacuum. It takes time, intention and practice.
We all encounter boundaries every day. Physical, mental, emotional, and personal boundaries. Coming to understand what impacts those boundaries and learning when it’s appropriate to be flexible with those boundaries can make all the difference when navigating difficult situations.
What you’ll hear in this podcast:
- How boundaries can help with triggered reactions
- How your boundaries impact who you are and how you present yourself in the world
- What really impacts your boundaries?
- When boundaries should be more fluid
- Ways that context can impact your boundaries
- How change can change everything
- What builds resilience
- How to say “No” respectfully
- Ways curiosity can help you find clarity
Glad you’re here.
This past week I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at Tina Mitchell’s Lunch and Learn over in Bellevue, Washington. I was talking to her real estate agents all about triggered reactions and the people that they work with and boundaries and emotions and how they impact the exchange that they have with their clientele.
You know, that’s a really high-stress field and there’s a lot of tension around such a big purchase and big decisions. There’s a lot of stuff that can go wrong and there’s a lot of ways to make it right when you know why others act and react the way that they do. We got to talking about boundaries and how boundaries impact not only their daily lives but their interactions with everyone they come in contact with.
Now, sure we all know what boundaries are in a general sense, but do you know how your boundaries impact who you are and how you present yourself in the world? And today we’re going to talk about those things that impact our boundaries and where it might go wrong and how you can strengthen them in those times.
But first, we have another five-star rating and review.
This one is from Angela Denise Davis. She says, I just found out about this podcast today and found the variety of information to be quite refreshing. This is certainly a podcast for my bench list over the holiday season. Thanks for the great work, Lara.
Thank you, Angela.
I greatly appreciate you taking the time to rate and review the podcast. It really means the world to me and if I can ask you, listener to please just share this or your favorite episode with just one or two people. It really makes a difference. The field of podcasting is loud and podcasts, good podcast, get lost amongst the clutter, so just sharing it with one person really makes an impact.
All right, now let’s dive in.
Boundaries in a general sense, there are physical, mental, emotional, and personal boundaries. You can think of the big ones. You know when someone is in your space or is infringing on your time, but what about the little things?
If I were to ask you, what are your boundaries with your coworker or what are your boundaries with your spouse? Would you be able to itemize them or list them in some way?
No, because boundaries are fluid. There are so many things that impact your boundaries. Everything from your relationship to the person which may grow over time or may wane over time. Your boundaries this year, may be very different from your boundaries last year with all the different people in your life.
Your mood also really impacts your boundaries. I know sometimes I wake up in the morning and I just need a little space, especially after being around a lot of people and I’m an extrovert, but when you are needing some time away in your head than your physical boundaries may change or your mental boundaries. I know sometimes I can find myself listening to a podcast and doing some dishes and all the sudden I kind of feel just irritated.
It’s like, Hey, Lara, you need a little bit of a break, so my mental, emotional, and physical boundaries may change even with the people in my life every day, right? Can you see how that can impact you? Your mood impacts your boundaries and another person’s mood impacts your boundaries.
Just think about the people that you interact with every day. If they’re in a bad mood or a great mood, right? It can change the dynamic between the two of you. Sometimes you can be closer, and your boundaries be a little more fluid with a person and other times you may be in a different environment and that may change your boundaries and that falls into the context.
What is the context?
If my best friend and I are working on something together, our boundaries are going to be informed by what we are doing. If we’re just hanging out on her patio and having a drink, then the boundaries are different.
The context of the environment, the context of what you are doing impacts your boundaries at the time. The context can be more easily understood when you think about who’s in the room.
If you’re hanging out with friends and family, then you’re going to speak in a certain way. If you’re sitting in a board room, the same exact conversation will happen differently. You may use different words. You may approach it in a different way. The context is the board room or a home setting.
Context really impacts the way that you communicate and what your boundaries may be about, what you share and what you don’t share. About what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do.
Another huge impact on our boundaries is change. This one comes up over and over again with the people that I work with, especially on small teams and when you talk about small teams, it also depends on the context.
I work with a lot of individuals who are in high stress, high conflict fields, everything from real estate to mortgages to finance and those in social work and our first responders. Change in the workplace changes team dynamics. You add one element, you add one stressor, you remove an element and it can really impact the entire team as a whole.
Also, there are some people who run from change or who fear change. There are others who embrace it. It all depends on their own codex, right? What they can tolerate. I myself like change. I always used to change my room around when I was young and even to this day, I like to move furniture, change the wall hangings, just mix it up every once in a while. I kind of embraced change.
Other people need a lot more time to process change when my sister and I, um, helped my mom redo her wood floors a couple of years ago and we painted her walls and we moved her furniture into something that we thought was a much more pleasing look and also easier to kind of sit and chitty chat with each other.
My mom didn’t like it at all. She changed it back almost immediately. It’s not that she doesn’t like change, it’s that she doesn’t like change. She likes to set up her house the way it is and just leave it like that and that’s fine. That’s the way that she likes it, but you have to know how that impacts everyone on your team or even in your family.
Well, for Meagan and I, that’s my sister, we were like, no, I like it better this way, but you know what? Mom is happy with it this way. That’s one of her boundaries. Things that change context, your mood, your relationship to that person, they all impact your boundaries and boundaries are fluid.
Remember, all of these factors impacted, so in order for you to build and affirm strong boundaries, you need to know what’s important to you. For instance, you may have several side passions that are important to you like volunteering or running races and because you want to make time for those passions, you have strict boundaries about working overtime or being available at all hours.
That is what is important to you and when you are aware of it, you can honor, affirm, and draw those boundaries in a clear and respectful way instead of a reactionary way. Because when you start just reacting to it, it brings up defenses and it kind of brings up the defensive nature in other people as well.
When you strive for self-awareness and self-esteem, and this may seem a little odd, but hear me out. Striving for self-awareness and self-esteem helps you clarify your boundaries and when you are clear on your boundaries and respectful, other people will respect your boundaries too. You need to communicate this clearly. Now, these are two words that are easier said than done.
No one, no one communicates clearly all the time. Well, maybe my mom, but not everyone.
There are those times when we are not as clear, or we realize only after it’s too late that we weren’t clear. So, here’s my tip, my permission, my wish for you. Get a redo. You can get a redo when you have overstepped your own boundaries, when you’ve agreed to do something that maybe you didn’t want to do. This is how we build resilience. This is how we build clarity.
No one gets it right on the first time, all the time, so when you know what’s important to you and when you take the time to do some reflection and when you say, Hey, you know what? I know I said I could do this for you, but I looked at my schedule and I’m just not able to do that for you. They will respect that. They may need time to process it, but they will respect it.
So, strive for self-awareness and self-esteem will come once you start to affirm and draw these boundaries. When you start to know more about yourself and what’s important to you. And when you take into consideration your mood, where you’re at in the day, what the context of the situation is, what the changes are, and what needs to change. That helps you build resilience and strong boundaries.
Say yes when you want to say yes. Say no when you want to say no, and then be quiet. You don’t need to explain or clarify. Sometimes we get stuck in a rabbit hole of over-explaining and then people start to wonder, well, why are they explaining so much? Maybe I should push a little harder. Maybe they aren’t quite sure, and they can be convinced and it’s not an overt manipulation. It’s the dance of communication.
All right, so here are some phrases that you can use when you want to say no in a respectful way.
Number one, you can say “I’m not able to do that.” No, I’m unable to stay late. No, I know that’s a hard one, right? Just saying no, and I know you’ve heard the phrase no is a complete sentence. It kind of is, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you need to explain more. No, I’m not able to do that. No, I understand. You want that for me? I’m not going to be able to do that. I understand you’re in a difficult situation. I’m unable to help you right now. Right. And practice this.
It’s not easy, especially for perfectionists or pleasers or women. We’re trained to quantify and qualify all of our responses and to defer many times. This has been ingrained in us over time, and again, you know, I talk about micro breaches. Micro breaches are the most dangerous breaches to our boundaries.
They’re the little things. They’re the death by a thousand cuts there. The tears and the fabric that rip the whole thing apart. The tiny oversteps that you ignore, they’re subtle and they’re often couched in a passive aggressive way, but micro breaches are basically a micro aggression and they can be dangerous to the overall structure of your boundaries.
And when you notice a micro breach, that’s when you can practice going back and getting a redo, getting a backsies saying, oh, you know what? I realized that I agreed to let you borrow my lawnmower, or whatever it is that you agreed to, that maybe it was a little overstep, but reclarify it and say, I’m not willing to do that now, or whatever it is that you want to see, what line you want to draw, which is perfectly fine.
And when you’re asked to do something and you already have a full plate, try not to respond with phrases like, oh, I just got so much to do right now. I’m just really stressed out. I’m really busy because that just sounds like you’re complaining and it’s not clear. It’s not clear communication. Instead say something more concrete, such as if I spend my time on this new project that you’re asking me to focus on or take on, I won’t have enough time to do xyz.
You can also use curiosity. I love curiosity and a why-ing it down. Asking why over and over again, not only to yourself but you know, within a conversation. You can ask those clarifying questions like, tell me more about why you need this done, or tell me more about what you are expecting of me or tell me more about how you see this going.
People will push your boundaries. They will be violated. You need to prepare for it. Boundaries don’t happen in a vacuum. You need to think about them. You need to prepare and you need to practice affirming your boundaries. And this doesn’t happen all the sudden. It takes time and practice.
So, treat yourself with grace and celebrate your successes. I often find it helpful to go back in my mind or on a piece of paper to a conversation or some communication that went wrong or didn’t go the way that I wanted it to. And I kind of take a look at what happened, why it went wrong, what was the context around it, and if I were to rewrite history and write the perfect outcome, what would it look like? And I use that as a template to prepare for the next time the situation comes up.
I hope these tips have been helpful for you and hey, drop me a line. What would you like to hear more of? What topics would you like me to explore? You can send me an email; an instant message and I am on Instagram. Whatever your favorite way to communicate is. Just let me know what you’d like to hear more of. I’d really appreciate it.
Now, next week we’re going to take a look at perfectionism. This is something we all struggle with at some time, but perfectionism has certain points of pain and I kind of want to get into that and what you can do about those pain points in your life and if you struggle with perfectionism, have you grabbed your 10 tips yet?
I’ve got 10 free tips on how to deal with difficult clients and difficult situations. Just go to difficult happens.com/10tips and grab your copy today and until next week, be honest, but kind. Be firm, but fair and be in touch. You know, I love to hear from you.
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