Monday, 23 April 2018

Capturing Confidence - Boundaries with Grace and Kindness

Today I have a confession to make...

I used to be a people pleaser - I used to base so many of my decisions on what other people thought of or wanted from me and I found it incredibly hard to say no, even if it was to my own detriment.

But then I found a way to change, I learnt how to grow my confidence and embraced a new way of living that reflected my core values and served my wellbeing.

Now, I'm free of this toxic habit, and I live my life pleasing myself first because I've learnt to set healthy boundaries and not live with the fear of what other people think.

Don't get me wrong I'm not a horrible insensitive person, I don't say no to others out of malice, or ignore peoples feelings and wishes out of spite or selfishness, in fact I try to go about my life with some graciousness and compassion if I can.

However I no longer give in to other peoples demands or change myself to favour others opinions, especially when it puts my wellbeing and anxiety levels into a negative spin. I now value what's best for me first and foremost and then see where I can accommodate others when necessary or appropriate.

If this seems in any way a bit scary or harsh to you well, sometimes it can be... because firstly you can never anticipate how someone might react when you do set boundaries, and secondly you do have to be firm with other people when they take advantage of you or try to push their own agenda onto your life and that can be difficult if you're not used to being assertive.

But let me tell you now though, no one has the right to manipulate you, intimidate you or make you feel that you need to change yourself or something else to please them - OK?

So how good are you at setting boundaries?

Well, I speak to so many people about this and it seems that this is something that so many people struggle with. The confidence to stand up to someone else demands on you doesn't always come easy, many people worry about the consequences of setting boundaries and even hurting the other person/people involved.

I get this too, it's so easy to get caught up in what other people think, or how they react to being told no — this is how a people pleaser is born. But you can build up your resilience to others adverse reactions especially if you set them with love and kindness — to yourself and to others too.

So what would be my top tips to setting boundaries with grace and kindness?

First of all be clear on why you need to set a boundary with someone, this is important because it gives you clarity on your decision and action and then remind yourself of your core values and what you need in your life to feel nourished and well - because if someone is stepping on this thats when action is needed, and you will feel more empowered to take it, and stick to it!

Next think about how you can approach this situation, how should you communicate with them? Do you need some support to set this boundary? What's the best timing? Because if you go about this the wrong way it can either make a situation worse or you may end up backing down and giving in to please others.

Then, it's OK to think about what you want to say, how you want to verbalise your thoughts and feelings and what words you want use. Thinking this through before hand can be useful if you are an introvert or lack confidence to stand up for what you need. By having preconceived ideas and answers you will find more courage to follow things through.

Choosing words and how you deliver them is also the part where you inject some kindness and grace - you may have to get a little assertive and firm with someone and you may have stand your ground but you don't have to get nasty or abusive.

People often push boundaries or manipulate others into situations when they are struggling with something themselves, we don't have to condone this behaviour but it often helps to understand why and how they might react if we can reflect on what's going on for them.

Last of all be kind and gracious on yourself. The first time you stand up for yourself and assert boundaries it might feel worrying and stressful but please remember that you are doing this in a loving way to care for yourself because you know what? You're worth that!

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