Create more success and wellbeing with healthy boundaries.
Success is about harnessing the strength in you. It’s about shifting from living into actively leading in the situations and events of your life. One of the ways we do that is through the practice of boundary setting. Mastering this important skill is key to attaining greater levels of wellbeing and the next topic we will explore in our series on how to adopt a Success Mindset.
What Are Boundaries?
Psychology Today lists five categories of personal boundaries that are true for you and everyone:
- Intellectual boundaries – we are all entitled to our own thoughts and opinions
- Emotional boundaries – we are all entitled to our own feelings
- Physical boundaries – we are all entitled to our own personal space
- Social boundaries – we are all entitled to pursue our own friends and social activities
- Spiritual boundaries – we are all entitled to our own beliefs and the things that inspire us
Being strong mentally and emotionally involves being able to communicate effectively about your boundaries, as well as seeking to understand and uphold other’s boundaries, across all five of these categories. There are a few ways to communicate about boundaries, but one of my favorite approaches incorporates the skill of creating agreements.
The Agreement Connection
The definition of an agreement is the act of coming to a mutual decision, position, or arrangement about how parties will behave, conduct themselves, and treat one another. When it comes to setting healthy boundaries, beginning the process by creating an agreement is a powerful move. It demonstrates an intention to open a dialogue about your and another’s needs and limits and to reach alignment from a spirit of partnership. When even just one person is willing to enter into a conversation from this place, I’ve seen it completely transform relationships. Why? Because a tremendous amount of dignity is generated for all parties through this practice.
Here is the three-step formula for boundary-setting using the skill of creating agreements.
1. Define. Get clear on what boundaries you need to set with others, both personally and professionally.
2. Communicate. Open up a conversation in which you clearly state your needs and limits. Invite the other person(s) to share about their needs and boundaries, too, and create an agreement about what part each party will play in addressing the situation.
3. Hold. Once an agreement is in place, holding the boundary becomes about keeping the agreement. If your agreement gets broken (by you or the other person), it’s time to have another conversation about how to handle broken agreements in the best way possible. Hint: Treat broken agreements as mistakes and use them as an opportunity to create stronger agreements! (Note: if the other party isn’t willing to create an agreement with you, setting and holding your boundary is the extent of what you can do.)
Shifting into Leadership
Setting boundaries is an act of self-care. Practiced regularly, this skill boosts self-trust and self-worth. So much is written and talked about concerning boundaries (check here for another excellent resource), but seldom is it approached as an opportunity to communicate in a way that dispels disharmony and actually strengthens relationships. Real leadership and success is about being a force for the greater good, which includes you and widens that focus to include everyone else, too.
Consider if there is a boundary you need to set in your life right now. Is there a situation, event, or relationship that would benefit from stronger boundaries? Take this as an opportunity to practice your leadership. What agreement could you propose that would help bring clarity and alignment to the whole situation?