Setting Boundaries

By Anne Peters, LMFT

It’s really important for us to set boundaries for ourselves that feel comfortable. Saying “no” is often where it all begins. We sometimes get fearful that saying “no” will come off as rude or self-centered. It can be just the opposite! As I’ve mentioned before, my token saying is “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” What I mean by that is you can’t take care of others in a healthy way if you aren’t also caring for yourself. Trust me, this isn’t easy to do, but setting boundaries is key to being the best you can be.

First of all, practice saying “no.” It can be helpful to offer an alternative in that moment. If someone asks if you could bring six dozen cookies to a bake sale, and you just know you have no time, say no. Then follow up by offering different ways you could help. Could you supply the napkins and plates? Could you help with set up? Could they keep you in mind for the next bake sale? Bottom line: offer alternatives.

Secondly, trust your gut. I will say it time and time again – your gut instinct is always something to listen to. In my experience, gut instincts are your own intuition. If your gut says “no,” say “no.”

Know your limits and stick to them. We can give and give, just know at what point it’s time to take a pause and take care of yourself.

Finally, be direct when communicating your boundaries. Get straight to the message so that it’s clear. You can even explain how your cup is running empty and it’s just not an option.
I’m ending with one of my favorite graphics from @hellosunshine. This speaks it all.

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