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4 STEPS TO HEALTHY BOUNDARIES

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Welcome back to The Midlife Makeover Show! Today is March 30th and that means it is almost spring! Woo-hoo! Although where I currently live on the island of Madeira, not to brag, but it’s always spring here! As a matter of fact, Madeira, Portugal is known as the land of eternal spring. But even here there is a slight change of seasons and signs of spring with pretty flowers blooming, butterflies flapping their colorful wings, plants sprouting up from the ground, and trees with new leaves. 

I’ve always loved spring. Spring is the sign of something new and fresh. Especially when it follows a cold, dark winter like I had back in Chicago. Blah! And just like the butterflies, they too, were once stuck in their dark cocoons anxiously waiting to break free and fly. 

Whether it’s the change of seasons or the metamorphosis of butterflies, there is one common thread between them both and that is –– transformation. It’s about evolving, growing, and progressing in life. As life should and as we should. 

But isn’t it interesting that even as the intelligent human beings that we are on this planet, we forget to bloom, change, and improve our lives? We get so caught up in watching Netflix, hustling at work, and scrolling on social media that we ignore our own progression in life. 

Today I invite you to improve yourself and your life. I invite you to take a step back to take a look at your life, so you can make changes to take a step forward in your life. 

On today’s show, I’m going to help you spring forward in your life. Get it? Spring forward?! Anywho, one of the best ways to make changes in your life is by making changes in your relationships, and one of the best ways to do that is by setting healthy boundaries. 

Ahhh yes! Boundaries. It’s all the craze these days! 

What?! You don’t have boundaries?! Yikes. You might want to get some boundaries! Like totally! 

I don’t know why I brought out the 1980s Valley girl, but it seemed fitting. If you want to be in the popular club, you’re going to need boundaries. Mkay?

Seriously though, not having boundaries can make your life complicated and I don’t want your life to be complicated. I want you to live a simple life so you can have more freedom to live, love and definitely laugh! 

Speaking of simple, I’m going to make this topic of setting boundaries as simple and straightforward as possible by giving you 4 steps you can follow to set new boundaries in your life. Before we dive into those steps, let’s chat a bit more about why we need boundaries, the different types of boundaries and what a healthy boundary looks like. 

So why do you need boundaries? Well, the most important reason of them all is that boundaries allow you to live your life your way. Boundaries tell the world where you draw the line –– where you say YES and where you say NO. Being clear with your boundaries and with others means you are clear with who you are and how you live your life. 

People that have solid, healthy boundaries have high self-esteem, greater confidence, less burnout, a greater sense of identity, and less stress. Why? Because they make themselves a priority. Quite simply, they say YES to their wellbeing and NO to the bullshit. All in all, boundaries empower YOU to take charge of your life. 

If you don’t have any boundaries at all, well, then you are subject to unhealthy relationships, being stomped on, taken advantage of, solving other people’s problems, and therefore left with feeling angry, sad, resentful, and pissed that you are not living life your way. Ain’t nobody got time for that! No mas!

We need boundaries!

So, what types of boundaries are there? There are 5 main categories: family, friends, romantic relationships, coworkers, and strangers. I’m not sure where the Starbucks barista fits in there, but all I know is that if they mess up my Grande Latte then they have crossed the line! 

Quite obviously, your boundaries will differ a bit from one category to another. For example, your boundaries with your spouse will be much different than the cashier at the grocery store. At least I hope they would be! Otherwise, you would have quite an awkward relationship with Betty Sue at Whole Foods! Awkwarrrrd! 

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of setting boundaries! As promised, I’m keeping this simple for you with only 4 steps and with each step starting with a letter D! After you listen to the 4 steps, I encourage you to grab a journal and write about your boundaries. For now, just listen to moi and get ready to change your life by setting boundaries resulting in higher self-esteem, self-worth, self-acceptance, and a happier, healthier YOU!

1. Define

Define your boundaries. When you look at each of those 5 categories –– family, friends, romantic relationships, coworkers, and strangers, what will you not tolerate? Whether it be physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual or financial, what will you not tolerate in those relationships? What behaviors are unacceptable to you? 

One thing you can do to help you determine the people or situations that make you feel happy and safe is to draw a circle on a piece of paper. Inside the circle, write things that make you feel good and secure. 

For example, hearing I love you from your partner before you go to sleep at night, having the time in your day to do yoga in peace and quiet, hugs from your friends, making cookies with your kids, etc. Anything and everything that brings you joy, write it inside the circle. 

On the outside of the circle, write anything that brings you frustration, angst, sadness, tears, or resentment. For example, your mother telling you what to with your life, your kids not returning your calls, your coworkers walking into your office and gossiping about people while you’re trying to get your shit done, and anything else that makes your blood boil. 

There might be more things written on the outside of the circle than on the inside of the circle. That is great actually, because that means you REALLY need to set new boundaries. It means that you either have no boundaries at all with those relationships, they don’t respect your boundaries, and/or your boundaries are drawn with a pencil and can be erased at any time. We will chat more about drawing your boundaries with a permanent marker in step 4. 

Once you complete the circle exercise, it would be best to write down in your journal the relationships that need to be strengthened with new boundaries. What new boundary needs to be set in those relationships so you can have more wonderful, peaceful, joyful things squeezed inside that circle? I want your circle to become one, gigantic blissful bubble that no one can burst! That is the goal. 

Again, step one is Define. Define your boundaries in all your relationships. 

2. Decide

Decide what happens if someone oversteps your boundaries. It may depend on the boundary, the relationship, and the situation, but decide your plan of action if someone crosses the line. Let it slide the first time? Three strikes you’re out? Will you end the relationship if it keeps happening? 

Make a “If this happens…” list of what will happen the next time your friend talks over you or your boss calls you on vacation or your dad criticizes your parenting skills. If this happens, I will do X. We will talk more about communicating your boundaries in the next step.

3. Declare

Declare your boundaries and make them known. Just because you set boundaries in your mind and wrote them in your handy dandy notebook doesn’t mean shit. You need to be a big boy or a big girl and use your big words! If the people in your relationships don’t know your boundaries, then how would they know they overstepped them? 

It might seem scary at first stating your new boundaries. Especially to the people closest to you. But believe me you, it is so worth it! Once you make your boundaries known, your life will really change. Not to mention, it will become easier! You won’t waste time and energy on all the crap outside of the circle that infuriates you. 

Stating your boundaries really comes down to taking a stand for yourself and voicing your values, needs, and desires.

Declaring your boundaries is declaring your love for yourself. 

Now, it’s important to point out that you don’t have to yell, scream, or shout your boundaries. It’s actually more effective if you state your boundaries clearly and calmly, so you can be heard. When someone crosses your boundary, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and express your boundary. 

For example, if your coworker, John, likes to make funny comments about you in meetings that piss you off everytime, simply say, “I don’t appreciate that, John, and I don’t find those comments to be funny.” You don’t have to freak out, throw your laptop across the room, and leave the meeting. Just state your boundary and move on. If it happens again, then you need to decide how you handle it the second time. Maybe take John out back, ya’ know what I’m saying? I’m joking! I’m joking! 

Again, be clear and calm when declaring your boundaries. When people become aware of your boundaries, they will begin to respect them and respect you. Your relationships will become more harmonious and effortless, and that blissful bubble of yours will become fatter and fatter. 

4. Dedicate

Dedicate yourself to upholding your boundaries. Dedicate yourself to your happiness. It is imperative to follow through with what you said you will do. Going back to what I said earlier, if you draw your boundaries with a pencil, the people in your life will never take you seriously and will always overstep your boundaries. 

“Oh, Judy always says she doesn’t like it when I’m late, but she never does anything about it. Whatever Judy!”

You might as well grab your eraser and start erasing that boundary you created! Instead, draw that boundary with a permanent marker and let it be known that you mean business. 

Here’s Judy after she’s written her new boundary with a permanent marker: 

“Lisa, you’re fired.”

Well done, Judy! 

Setting boundaries will take time and people may not like them at first, but if they love you and respect you, they will honor your boundaries and your happiness. Once your boundaries are in place, your life will become so much easier. Not to mention, all the healthy benefits you’ll receive in return from having healthy boundaries:

  • healthy relationships
  • high self-esteem
  • less drama
  • less anger, resentment, frustration, and burnout
  • more confidence
  • more love for yourself
  • more love for others
  • more love for life
  • a happier, more peaceful you
  • a big, beautiful, blissful bubble overflowing with lotsa love and laughter

I hope I succeeded at not only explaining the boundary process in a simple way for you, but I also hope you’re inspired to look at your relationships and set new boundaries. Or maybe throw that pencil in the garbage can and rewrite those old boundaries with a Sharpie. Doing the work of setting boundaries will help you grow, evolve, and spring forward in your life. 

A quick review of the 4 steps to setting healthy boundaries:

1. Define – define boundaries for your partner, friends, family, co-workers, strangers. Whether it be physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual or financial, what will you not tolerate in those relationships? What behaviors are unacceptable to you? Draw your circle and determines what’s in and what’s out!

2. Define – Decide what happens if someone oversteps your boundaries. It may depend on the boundary, the relationship, and the situation, but decide your plan of action if someone crosses the line. 

3. Declare – Declare your boundaries and make them known. Be proactive and voice your values, needs, and desires. Your closest relationships should especially know where you stand.

4. Dedicate – Dedicate yourself to your boundaries. Follow through with what you say. No erasing allowed! Most importantly, be calm, clear and confident.

Hey – thanks for hanging out with me today. I am truly grateful for you and if this episode inspired you, share it with a friend. Share the love! 

Speaking of sharing the love, I’ve got more and more love to share with you soon. I’m currently writing my book on how to redesign your life, I’m creating a Midlife Meditation series, and a brand-new online course. I will announce all of these exciting things on The Midlife News, so make sure you sign up at http://themidlifenews.com. It’s free to sign up and you’ll also receive your FREE Midlife Makeover Toolkit and a $50 coupon to The Midlife Makeover Method online course. Not a bad dealio! 

Thank you again and get out there with your Sharpies and BE BOLD, BE FREE, BE YOU!

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