Want to know the real reason you struggle with boundaries? It’s not what you think.
Every person and their dog is talking about boundaries on socials right now. They’re referring to how to have healthy boundaries and why you need to say ‘no’ to more things.
This is true, at least for the people I work with. A big part of my work as a mindset coach for women in business is helping them to develop epic boundaries! That’s because they tend to say ‘yes’ far too often. Many of us never get taught how to do this well and end up people-pleasing.
I witnessed the ‘sliding doors moment’ yesterday when my daughter (aged 12) had an experience with a treating professional in the health and medical sector which could have derailed her belief in herself and what she needed.
You see, boundaries are so crucial to anyone wanting to live a life they choose, not one they live by default.
Meeting your needs is just as crucial.
The boundaries, in fact, take care of your needs. So there’s every chance that if you have flimsy (or often non-existent) boundaries, you aren’t looking after your own needs either. This is why you probably aren’t great at self care or ‘me time’; receiving a compliment or engaging in what you perceive as conflict.
Yesterday, I took my daughter to an appointment. Let’s say it was in the health and medical industry. It was an additional appointment to fix up something that wasn’t working as it should. Instead of the usual practitioner she normally has (let’s call him Joseph), I let her know she had been squeezed in with someone else seeing it was an unplanned visit and Joseph wasn’t available this week.
When we arrived, it was actually someone different again – let’s call her Zoe. Not a great start, but ok, we can handle this.
Zoe got to work, chatting away with Josie and having some light banter. From my perspective, I thought she was doing a pretty good job of being friendly and light-hearted.
After working on the issue, Zoe believed she had rectified the problem and asked Josie how it felt.
Josie tried to say that it felt funny. Zoe reviewed it and said it looked good and that Josie might just need to get used to it.
Out at reception, Josie turned to me and said to me ‘it doesn’t feel right’ and tried to explain. She said it felt different from how it had felt initially when everything was working properly. The receptionist went and got Zoe, who came back out and asked if everything was ok. When Josie told her it didn’t feel right, she was told that’s probably because we just made changes. You’ve had a few days with it not being in place. It probably just feels different now.
When Josie continued to say, it doesn’t feel right, she was told – well, Joseph selected that particular [item size and shape] and that was up to him. I can’t do anything about that. Go away for a few days and see how it feels.
This felt like it translated to (but may not have been intended as)- ok this is getting annoying. I’ve done my best to fix the issue. I squeezed you into my calendar. I’ve listened and tried to rectify this issue and it seems fine to me. See how you go for a few days. Bye, Felicia.
Now, this particular issue has been around since Josie was young. She has a high tolerance for pain and discomfort. This was noteworthy when she first saw Joseph and he worked with her for about an hour with no issues whatsoever, no breaks, and somewhat surprised as he said how incredibly well she was managing it.
Cut back to yesterday, and I began to think maybe Zoe was right and Josie just had to readjust.
We walked out to the car, and she started crying and told me she wasn’t seeing ‘her’ again. She showed me what the problem was that she’d been referring to. It was obvious what the issue was, and why she felt uncomfortable.
Next minute, we were back to square one. The resolved issue was back again. At this point, Josie said there was no chance she was going back in and she was never seeing Zoe again.
I told her:
- I’m so sorry this happened (I gave her a hug).
- I’m going to go back in to make sure you’re booked in with Joseph for your next appointment
- I said to her that this is a really important lesson that you’re learning the hard way: that you are the expert on your own body. It doesn’t matter what any parent or adult or supposed expert tells you, you know your own body best. I’ll always be there to stand beside you and help you to have a voice if you don’t feel like something is right. Because I’m sure it feels hard to keep trying to say how you feel when you’re not being listened to. It’s hard for adults, so I can imagine that might feel even harder for you.
- I left her in the car and went back to reception and we realised her next apt wasn’t for some time. I told the receptionist I’d see if I could persuade Josie to come back and get it fixed. Incredibly, she agreed to this, so her treatment wasn’t held back.
We got it sorted and this story illustrates this:
These are the times when children get confused. When YOU may have become confused. Because an adult was telling you that you didn’t know what you were feeling. That what you were thinking wasn’t real or accurate. That you were supposed to stop making a fuss and make everyone feel better by acquiescing. You were inconveniencing others.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t change this at ANY age – you absolutely can.
Nor that it will take eons to change. It doesn’t and this can shift rapidly through mindset coaching with a skilled practitioner (that would be me). Or with another professional who is experienced with this.
It starts with:
- Knowing that this could be holding you back from living the life you choose. Whether that’s with your clients; partner; friends; parenting; health; self-care; sleep and so on).
- Being compassionate and kind to yourself – you tried your best. So did everyone else. It’s not your fault; you’ve just never learned how to do this stuff ie develop healthy boundaries that take your own needs into consideration (like the vast majority of the population, I can tell you right now!)
- Realise that you have the choice to make it different. It won’t just become different – you must work out how to make it different.
- Understand that having confident, assertive, supportive boundaries requires you to be mindful of your own needs. To prioritise them; to believe in them; to honour them. This must be factored into the equation.
- Ask for help – because there is almost zero chance that you will work this out for yourself. So much of it is subconscious and I’ll be honest with you, it’s uncomfortable in the beginning! (And then it feels AMAZING and you’ll wish you started sooner!)
There are so many stories like these. Stories that you most likely haven’t thought of in years, if at all. Stories that influence the decisions that you make; the obligations that you commit to; the pressure you adopt; the self-doubt and possible high-level (and high-functioning) anxiety that sits just below the surface.
These are not your’s to keep. They are stories we can shine a light on to shift their meaning and find evidence of a different reality. One in which you get to meet your needs and develop boundaries that go hand in hand with the confident, successful, savvy, assertive business person you already are; and that you aspire to be more of.
If this is ringing true for you, join us inside Flourish – my 8-week group coaching program commencing Monday 13 February. You will learn about meeting your needs; developing healthy boundaries and changing your mindset (stories and beliefs) that are driving behaviour. Next, you have the opportunity to implement these so you get more time, energy, money, fulfilment, joy, and self-trust. I’d love to have you if it feels like a good fit. You can join here.
I hope my children grow up knowing their needs are valid and important; develop boundaries that support and nurture these needs; and call out any behaviour that isn’t aligned with this. I have no doubt, it won’t be perfect. Just as I have no illusions of being a perfect parent. I’m grateful for the work I’ve done on myself and with others so that this ripples across to them now.
Kylie xTags: boundaries Inner child needs people-pleaser selfesteem transformational coaching