What Even Are Boundaries?

Business Mindset Coach

You may have noticed I’ve added The Boundaries Queen to my social media handles and here on my website. It’s a subject I’m super-passionate about and I help women in business to get back their time, energy, grow their business, find time for themselves, and start to believe and trust themselves (sometimes for the first time really).

It’s work I absolutely adore and love sharing about. For this reason, I want to take a moment to start at the very beginning (cue image of Julie Andrews frolicking in the Austrian Alps!) and talk about ‘What Even Are Boundaries?’

This is because much like when someone tells you they’re an accountant and you nod your head like you know ALL about that, deep down know that you probably don’t really know exactly what that entails. Unless you’re in a related profession – bookkeepers, I’m looking at you!)

Going back a few years, I used to help people return to work. They’d share with me what their job was, and (because it was my role to ensure they had a suitable job to return to; a safe return to work plan and were going to experience success with the whole experience) I would happily say:

‘Tell me all about your job, pretending I know nothing about it’.

Because, truth be told, I actually almost always didn’t have a clue about what their job really and truly entailed.

So while I know you know about boundaries in a general sense, I’m going to take a punt on thinking that you may not know the nuances around this, and that this will potentially be really helpful for you to know.

When we have more awareness (conscious awareness – knowing what we didn’t know before even though we were experiencing it), we can change what we’re not so jazzed up about in our business and life as a whole.

In a nutshell, boundaries (in the words of the very wise Brene Brown) are a sense of what’s ok and what’s not ok. It’s like our terms of engagement and it is different for everyone.

For example, I’m going to take a guess that you’re fine with your partner kissing you on the lips (unless you hate his/her guts – time to get out of there!) Although, if a random stranger on the train tried the same thing, they might see quite a different side to you in your reaction to the kiss!

Boundaries differ between people and in different areas of our lives.

While it may be fine for your Mum to call you on the weekend, you’re probably not over the moon about a client doing the same if that’s not what you offer.

You might happily make time to have coffee with your bestie. But if painful Uncle Bob and Aunty Sheila want to catch up with the family, maybe you ‘have plans’ already, if you know what I’m saying.

We can categorise them into 3 main types:

  1. Others to Self
  2. Self to Others
  3. Self to Self

You probably know about the Others to Self one – where someone ‘crosses your boundary’ and you launch into a rage. Like when someone swerves in front of you while you’re driving with your children in the back seat and you nearly collide. The boundary that may have been crossed is one around expecting people to drive safely and respectfully

The Self to Others may be less familiar. Let’s say you have a boundary around other people turning up unannounced, or not taking calls after 9pm at night. It’s a boundary (an invisible line) that you may or may not have communicated in relation to what’s acceptable to you.

If someone calls you at 10pm, this may result in you fuming about it, but actually not necessarily saying anything to the other person. But boy will those around you hear about it! This is a boundary you consciously or subconsciously assume with others.

Self to Self boundaries are where you are the only one involved and it might be around things like what days you work; what time you go to bed; what time you start and finish work.

It could be whether you work on the weekends or holidays; how many glasses of wine it’s ok to drink and on what days of the week; how many coffees you have and when you have your last one for the day. What time you get up in the morning and how many times you press snooze.

These self to self boundaries are often a BIG challenge. People end up crossing their own boundaries despite not intending to. The action / behaviour is in contrast to the intended one(s). This causes frustration and irritation with yourself.. (Deep down, it’s related to low self worth).

Which means maybe you end up working nights, weekends and holidays, even though you don’t want to. You’ve crossed your own boundary this case.

Starting to assert boundaries can be challenging because it’s often really unfamiliar. Let’s face it, nobody really teaches us about this stuff, right?!

So we go through life doing our best but can find it’s not really going to plan *sigh*. The good news is you can definitely learn what your boundaries are and how to assert them confidently and without all the emotion, and they are an absolute gamechanger.

To apply these types of boundaries to your life, ask yourself this:

  • Which type of boundary is causing me the most angst right now in this area (pick one) of my life
  • You can do this for your business; parenting; intimate relationship; friendships; self care; health and so on. It will no doubt be really illuminating!

As always, remember to approach this with compassion and kindness. Avoid judging yourself and just get curious instead. That’s where the magic lies!

Kylie x

If you’d like to become a Boundaries Boss you might be interested in my next round of FLOURISH (a 13 week group coaching program for women in business). We start 25 July and I would LOVE to have you there if you feel it calling you. Sing out with any questions here: kylie@kmbcoaching.com.au

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