Emotional Intelligence

Setting Boundaries: A Guide to Restricting Access to Your Time and Energy

Woman draws boundary line with a marker.

To be our best, personally and professionally, we must realize that we cannot be all things to all the people in our lives. Consistently giving too much of our time and energy away will push us past our personal limits and take away from our ability to create success. This is why we all need to learn the steps for setting boundaries.

What does it mean to set a boundary?

Setting a boundary is saying what you are okay with and what you are not okay with. There are many people who have not taken the time to sit down and map out their list of boundaries in each of the areas of their lives, but it is important to do so. 

If you do not make your boundaries clear, other people will continue to cross them because they don’t know any better, increasing the amount of stress you feel. It is up to you to take the steps for effectively communicating about your boundaries and setting clear expectations when it comes to the protection of yourself, your time and your energy. 

What does a healthy boundary look like?

Healthy boundaries are important for aligning your priorities and asserting your personal identity. In other words, personal boundaries let you be more of yourself, while giving you more time to do the things that are most important to you. 

There are many different types of boundaries and it’s important to explore all of them to ensure you protect yourself. Below, I am focusing on three that, in my experience, most often have the greatest impact on us – emotional, physical and time boundaries. 

  1. For all my givers out there, emotional boundaries are often the ones we struggle with most. For setting emotional boundaries, we have to get a clearer understanding of what is ours to feel or fix. Because givers can be so focused on others, these lines can feel a little blurry and we can lose ourselves in other people’s emotions, or worse, lose our own identities in our relationships.

With emotional boundaries we need to identify our own thoughts and feelings and acknowledge what we feel when we are feeling it. The better we can get at identifying the emotion and what is triggering it, the easier it will be to follow that trigger back to our belief system and figure out the kind of emotional boundary we might need to set. By doing so, we can exercise greater control over our emotions, increase our emotional intelligence, and take steps to make sure that our mood is not dependent on other people’s moods or feelings. 

It takes work, but being able to keep your energy lifted and unimpacted negatively by others, even when the people closest to us are struggling, is a life skill that is worth developing. 

  1. Physical boundaries are important to set in all your relationships. They state your level of comfort when it comes to physical touch. You always have the right to do what makes you feel comfortable, while respecting other people’s physical boundaries. 

For example, you might feel that hugging in a work environment is inappropriate, but feel fine with hugging friends or family; or you might reserve hugs for only your most intimate relationships. Whichever you choose is right, because it is right for you.

Whether someone understands your need for setting a physical boundary is not important. What is important is that they respect you enough to do as you ask, once you let them know your physical boundary. If they do not, you may be dealing with a toxic person and that may require you to limit your time with them or you may need to learn The Liberating Art of Cutting Toxic People Out of Your Life

  1. Time boundaries are especially important for people who have big visions they want to bring to life. Time boundaries allow you to focus on your priorities, minimizing the probability of taking ownership of other people’s wants and needs (which can easily happen for service and heart centered people). 

For example, an expert in business systems may get an invitation to speak at a conference on a totally different subject. This expert might exercise boundaries by declining this invitation where the audience is not his or her target market for messaging and instead spend the time it would take to travel, prepare a presentation and then be at the conference in a way that better connects him or her with the appropriate target market.   

As another example, an introverted person who goes to a conference will need to set boundaries around the amount of time they spend with other people, and establish the amount of time they need to be alone to relax and reset, before engaging again. That might mean they decline a lunch invitation to prioritize time alone, going back to their hotel room to order room service instead. It might also mean that they limit time with friends and family upon their return from the conference, to give themselves the space they need for rejuvenation. 

By taking the steps for setting boundaries, we give ourselves a greater understanding of our own needs and expectations. That understanding opens the door to better relationships and the supportive conversations that help you and the people around you reach higher levels of success.  

How do you start setting boundaries?

To start setting boundaries, it’s important to do them one at a time and make sure that as you set them, you and the people around you are respecting your wishes before you set another boundary. 

For people who have never done this before, effectively communicating boundaries might be hard at first, until you get used to it. I suggest writing down what you want to say, and then practice saying what you have written out loud, before you deliver it to someone. If you have a trusted and supportive friend, you could even ask them to roleplay communicating boundaries with you. 

It’s also important to remember that you can communicate your boundaries with kindness. Keeping the focus on your feelings and needs, versus what the other person is doing or not doing, will be more effective. Additionally, delivering the conversation in a calm and neutral tone, while keeping your communication simple and direct, will make it easier for the other person to understand your boundary and be supportive. 

When you are communicating boundaries, the other person’s needs are also important to consider. You may wish to ask them if there is a boundary that they would also like to set in your relationship. This can help to open the dialogue further. 

By setting boundaries and restricting access to your time and energy, you open time and energy for the people and things that matter most in your life. That’s a win/win all around. 

If you are focused on building your success, Think and Grow Rich – Success and Something Greater is an excellent resource! My co-author, Greg S. Reid, and I followed the proven path of Napoleon Hill and sought out multi-millionaires, asking them to share the Magic Keys to their success and legacy. We’ve written this book to support you in becoming more self-confident, more energized, more focused, ready to ask the right questions, and most importantly, ready to take action and realize your own success, wealth and achievement, and in doing so, define and create your legacy. CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY NOW!

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