Responsibility Answers: Setting & Sticking to Boundaries

Where are you allowing others, to get in your way of your clarity and your focus? Now ask yourself “What do I want about that?”

Christopher Avery

Responsibility Answers

Setting and Sticking to Boundaries

Norman writes

“Christopher, how do I set better boundaries so that I can maintain clarity and focus?”

What are personal boundaries?

Personal boundaries are our own internal, guidelines of beliefs, rules, intentions, or limits that we have. Generally boundaries exist in relationship with others – about where we’re willing to go, or not go. So how do we get in boundary trouble? We know that generally, below the line of Responsibility, when we’re dealing with a problem, we tend to seek approval, safety or control.

We tend to say yes, when we ought to say no. We tend to stay quiet when we ought to speak up, or to be wimpy when we ought to be strong. We tend to pull back when we ought to come forward. So the first thing to do in terms of setting better boundaries is to choose one of your boundaries and identify where it is being broken.

Where are you allowing others, to get in your way of your clarity and your focus? Now ask yourself “What do I want about that?”

This question, what do I want about that – is very important. Meditate on that question. Ponder that question, and an answer will come to you. Maybe the answer will be a personal belief, guideline or limit.

When you have that answer, the next step is to create a commitment to that belief, guideline or limit. Now apply the Catch Sooner Game to it. Remember the catch sooner game? If you don’t, you can read more about it in chapter five in my book, The Responsibility Process.

The Catch Sooner Game says that you can change any habit or belief in the world in four steps, iteratively.

— First, catch yourself doing it. Catch yourself, allowing somebody to break that boundary.

— Second, stop it. Do something to correct it right then, after you catch yourself.

Forgive yourself for not being able to change a decades long habit immediately. Forgiving yourself is a very important step, because we have a very human tendency to beat ourselves up.

I’ve found that we can change much faster when we have compassion for ourselves. 

— The next step is to validate. Catch yourself earlier in this boundary management dilemma next time. Eventually you’ll be able to catch it as it’s happening & say no.

Maybe next time, instead of saying yes to something you’d rather say no to, you can say, “Gosh, boss, I’m really honored that you asked me to stay late tonight and finish this report because somebody else screwed up.

I’m sorry. I have a prior commitment. Just because they’re not doing their job, doesn’t mean that I have to do their job for them. I hope you understand boss. See you tomorrow. I’ll be happy to work on it then.”

So limits. Do you have limits that people cross? If so, tighten them up.

Do you struggle to stop people from taking advantage of you? Or struggle to tell people no when they put something on your plate, or hand something back to you after you put it down? If so, pursue that and change that.

Here’s what you can do today.

Look at areas of your life, where you think maybe you could tighten up or improve your boundaries and just choose one.

Then again, ask yourself, what do I want about this? What is a guideline, a personal belief, a personal commitment, personal rule, or limit that I could put in place? Then start working with that, and you’re going to see changes in your life.

This is a great thing to invite us to help you with. Consider enrolling for the next Immersion – a 20 week deep-dive into activating The Responsibility Process® in ourselves.

Activating the Responsibility Process helps us take ownership of our lives. You can come to application mastery, and bring problems like this – and we’ll help you identify them, and help you put in place new guidelines and new personal beliefs and new personal limits.

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