We have heard about setting boundaries. We all do so, consciously and subconsciously. I want to talk about this important life skill.
First, how do we know when a boundary is needed or violated? We feel something! Often, it doesn’t feel good. Hurt, angry, annoyed, frustrated…all symptoms of something happening that does not work for us.
I recommend a first step of acknowledging that Something is happening and beginning the detective work to assess what it is.
Did you have an expectation? A need? A plan? Exactly what occurred?
Did the other person or the circumstances present an unanticipated impact?
Once you are clear what has occurred, you can move on to choosing what, if anything, to do in response. Take your time, if possible, both in formulating your approach and timing, and delivering.
Be as calm and neutral as you can. This often takes time to reach clarity and to defuse your self.
You want what is best, so your goal is to be as effective as possible in resolving the situation.
Be sure to ask for any new agreements or terms that may prevent future challenges.
You: “I was really upset when you were late again for our appointment.”
Them: “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
You: “Is there something going on that I need to know about?”
Them: “Yes. I’ve been depressed and overwhelmed recently and even small things take real effort.”
You: “Is there something I can do to help?”
Them: “I’m starting some new health practices that I hope will make a difference. Next time, can you call me an hour before our meeting time to check in?”
You: “I will. I’m sorry you are struggling with this. I have a tight schedule during the week, so I want to honor our agreement to meet AND handle what I need to so I don’t get stressed. I appreciate you letting me know what is going on.”
Them: “Thanks for working with me. I’m doing my best to figure this all out.”
Of course, we have no control over how another person responds. It doesn’t mean we will get what we need or want.
If there is any way to create a different outcome, it can be worth it to give your best attempt at doing so.
I know that these principles are not easy in some situations. I have practiced for decades and it can still be tricky to determine where I am and what I need.
With practice, this gets easier and faster. Please take care of yourself by drawing a line in the sand, with care and sensitivity to all involved!