Fight to Regain Control of Your Boundaries


One summer, I was struggling with resentment towards a family member. Let us call her Carol. I loved Carol very much, but every time I saw her number on the caller ID, I felt sick and upset. I started avoiding his calls. Thanks to a candid chat with a friend, I realized that I was staying away from Carol because she always wanted something from me. In addition, I always said yes. I invested so much that Carol thought well of me, no matter what she needed or wanted, I found a way to make it happen, and as a result I created chaos in my life. A friend suggested that I write ‘ no ‘ in large letters on a notebook and put it on my coffee table. Then every time Carol called, I would sit and stare at the card until I dared to say no. Borders are difficult – we do not always realize that we are dissatisfied or unproductive because of the lack of borders. It is much easier to blame others for our distractions, resentments, or disturbances. However, in reality, we are responsible.

Property Lines

The trick to being responsible is to recognize what we have control over and what we do not have. Dr. John Townsend, Business Consultant, Psychologist, Leadership Coach, and Co-Writer with Henry Cloud, Ph.D., Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Control Your Life. He says the best way to define a boundary is to think of it as an asset line. “It’s a boundary in our lives between the things we are responsible for and the things we cannot be responsible for,” he says. For example, you and I are in charge of our jobs, and we may want to help and support each other, but we cannot take each other’s jobs – or our feelings or relationships, our money or our time. “

When we specify what we control, we also specify the areas we can select. Problems and dysfunctional relationships arise when we try to take on the responsibilities of others – when we encroach on their property, Townsend says.

Sometimes this trespass looks very much like helping, in the form of great grace, like the case of my relative Carol. Nevertheless, other times, customer harassment seems like someone is copying you every email they send to the customer.

Do you think the lack of boundaries does not affect you or your productivity? Katherine suggests that we do a little self-assessment to see how far we have strayed from what really matters to us each day. “Look at the straight line that matters to you. What are your three favorite things to do? How long should all three last? Include them in your schedule for this week and check back next week. “If you did not do them, what would have happened to you?”

Cloud, a clinical psychologist, recently published the book The Boundaries of Leaders: Ridiculous Results, Relationships, and Responsibility. He believes that this proverb is true: if everything is important, nothing is important. In his latest book, he puts it best: “As a leader, you always get what you create and what you allow.”

Property Lines

Why do we Trespass ?

If I knew I was ultimately responsible for my emotions and my time, why was it so hard for me to say no to Carol? Why did I let his sudden insistence on remodeling his living room or cat food emergency detract from my priorities?

Townsend says our failure to enforce borders is usually due to three reasons. The first is the fear of losing a relationship. “If we look at neuroscience, we’re a lot of relationships,” he says. This means that not only are people important to us, but we also want to be important to others. It is hard when we are in a relationship with someone who reacts badly whenever we say no. The other side pulls and pulls aside. “Nobody wants that because we do not want to be isolated,” Townsend said. Therefore, the number one problem with starting to set boundaries and apply boundaries is the fear of losing the relationship.

This was certainly one of the motivations for my inability to reject Carroll. He had a way of cutting me off emotionally if I did something that made him unhappy.

Townsend says there are two other factors behind ignoring our borders. “The second reason is that if we set limits and say no, we have to deal with the anger of others, and that is difficult.”

When we say no to certain people, they become defensive, angry, angry – even a little angry. “None of us think this is a pleasant experience,” Townsend said. “Whether in work or personal life, no one wants people to be upset with him. However, some of us engage in behaviors that psychologists call conflict avoidance behaviors.

Have you ever spent your entire relationship with someone “walking on eggshell”? Townsend says this is an example of conflict-avoidance behavior, a tool we use when we do not want to provoke someone’s anger and deal with the consequences. It also represents a relationship in which we do not defend our borders – if we set them from the beginning.

“The third reason we neglect our boundaries is guilt,” says Townsend. “We all feel a special responsibility to not hurt others, and sometimes it is exaggerated.” We may say to ourselves that we do not want to say no to someone because we do not want to lower his or her confidence. Alternatively, maybe as a boss we are afraid to upset the team members and lower the morale.

You can bet that if you feel resentful of someone for repeatedly imposing, dominating, or persuading you against your will, one of the three reasons behind your inability to act.

Draw a line

I heard a relationship theory that goes like this: “If you get upset if that person enters the room, there is a deeper issue that you need to address.” Many of us spend a lot of time on things like constraints and responsibilities. It is difficult to defend ourselves when people oppose them. In addition, it is difficult to draw a line on the sand with people who are fragile.

But gaining the courage to set and maintain boundaries is essential not only for our well-being and self-esteem, but also for healthy relationships.

First determine what you have to change and what not. “The brain loves control,” says Claude. “When he feels he has control, he gets high performance, so focus on what you can control that leads to results, not what you can’t.”

Then find a few people by your side. Now I am not talking about starting a land war here. Whenever we take a risky step, whether in business or in personal life, we must feel that people support and encourage us.

“Your friend did the right thing,” Townsend tells me. Encouraging me to say no to Carol, my friend was by my side. Therefore, when I finally started saying no to Carol, the defensiveness and silence that followed did not hurt me much, because I knew I had other people in my corner. Having a support system helps our brain capture the idea that we will survive any negative border demarcation.

If we are really afraid of losing someone as a result of saying no or disagreeing, Katherine says, keep in mind that not setting boundaries will end the relationship anyway. He exemplifies that someone is trying to convert you to his or her political or religious views. It is annoying at first and after a while, it can become completely disrespectful. Eventually you get so tired of a behavior that you do not want to be with that person. So demarcating the border is actually a way to save the relationship. “Because by not defining the border, you will eventually bow.”

Catherine also advises us to ask ourselves if we put the feelings of others above our own. When we say we do not want to hurt our friend or colleague by setting boundaries, Katherine suggests asking ourselves, do I protect them enough to make me feel bad? “In order to be free in life, we must want to disappoint people.”

Townsend says fear of conflict is another common obstacle to moving forward. “Most of us did not grow up with really good conflict management models. So conflict skills are hard to come by. You have to develop new ones. “What I found to be really helpful to my coaching clients was role-playing, practicing talking to a friend who is safe.”

When you say, “I cannot be on your committee, or go to dinner every Tuesday, or stop working to talk about office gossip,” practice letting your friend get angry with you. You will experience the anxiety caused by that reaction. “When you finish, you think, well, the world will not fall apart. Townsend says we still love each other. It creates structures in your brain that give you the courage to do it in a real situation.

Since Carol did not have many friends, I thought she would be depressed and lonely if I brought her back. But Townsend says we often exaggerate our influence. “Most people in our lives can really say ‘no’,” he says. “They are not very fragile. They may be upset or frustrated, but they are not going to ruin their lives. This is what we create in our brains when we make people more fragile than they really are. “You have to respect others in your life because they are adaptable and flexible.

Draw a line

Enjoy your space

When I started saying no to Carroll, when saying yes committed me, not only did I feel better about our relationship, but I also felt a lot of freedom. I took back my time to spend on things that were important to me. I was able to say yes to my goals and fulfill the commitments I may have made to meet his demands.

Townsend says this increase in freedom is just one of the many benefits of defining company boundaries. “One of the things people find is that they have more energy and creativity,” he says. “It’s kind of amazing. Like when you give up shared dependence on others, save other people, or empower other people, suddenly the energy that comes out of your business and relationships comes back into you.”

Another benefit is starting a healthy new relationship. “Healthy people like to be around people with disabilities,” says Townsend. “Unhealthy people do not do that.” So when we start drawing lines, we learn who our true friends are and make healthier friendships. All of these benefits increase confidence, better focus and higher productivity.

For leaders, these benefits extend to more effective leadership and happier teams. “A lot of times, we don’t make the connection between our personal issues and our leadership,” Cloud said in a recent interview. “Working to complete you as a person is your first leadership service.”

He suggests thinking of yourself as a boat that travels to different goals or missions throughout its life. Behind you is an awakening whose fans come out in two directions. On the one hand, you can see the effectiveness of your mission. Did you achieve your goals? Was the strategy fully implemented? Cloud says that often, leaders focus only on this position. However, the other side includes the relationships we leave behind. How do people feel about the mission? How do people feel about you now that you have reached your goal? Cloud claims that leaders are pursuing positive results on both sides with integrity. Moreover, the only way to do that is to work on your boundaries and issues.

“Start with the baby’s steps,” Townsend says. “Some people are so used to saying yes that it can be a little scary to say no or deal with it.”So do only small things at first.” If you do not dare to skip a meeting, set a limit to how long you can stay. If you feel that you do not stop every time someone comes to your desk, do not bother for an hour. Start small. “The more you feel that people still love you and that everything will fall apart, the bigger, bigger and more productive your boundaries will be,” Townsend said.

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