Where do you begin and where do you end?

| 8 October 2021
People-pleasing is one of the obvious ways to get in our own way because so often it leads to resentment, frustration and overwhelm.

I’m talking today about boundaries.

Not the type that leads to neighbourhood disputes over hedges.

I’m talking about personal boundaries.

How many times do you:

  • Agree to do something but inwardly seethe with resentment?
  • Put everybody’s own needs before your own?
  • Take on responsibilities that are not yours to take on? (‘My team are busy and I don’t want to burden them’)
  • Think about what you ‘should’ do vs. what you truly want to do.

There’s a number of reasons you might be nodding your head and I can pretty much guarantee your boundaries are stamped on because of your own beliefs or fears:

  • A belief that you SHOULD put others before yourself – always
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of being selfish
  • Fear of someone else’s reaction if you honour your own boundary
  • People pleasing or need for approval
  • Guilt or shame

Did I miss any?

Of course a lot of these beliefs and fears come from the early messages we got (explicitly or implicitly) when we were growing up.

We’ve never re-examined or questioned them as adults to see if they really fit with who we want to become.

The good news is that if you’ve lost control of your own boundaries you can get it back.

As always, a journey of 1000 miles starts with the first step.

So set your intention to strengthen your boundary.

And start with one thing.

It could be something as simple as starting your meetings on time and not waiting for stragglers who log on or turn up ten minutes late. (They’re not valuing your time.)

It could mean leaving the meeting that always overruns on time. (Value your own time.)

It could mean telling your team you are unavailable for a certain time each day – or you are available for questions at certain times (not all times). (Valuing your time to think, focus, plan, prepare and just ‘be’.)

One of the things I did some years ago was ‘cull’ a couple of people who drained my energy – we no longer had anything in common but we kept meeting up out of habit.

It sounds brutal but it was so liberating – for them, I’m sure as well as me.

Time is precious. Spend it in ways that bring joy and add value to your life and your work.

Remember, as Bronnie Ware tells us, one of the biggest regrets of the dying is: ‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’.

That’s a great message to live by.