Not long ago, I was constantly at the mercy of the demands and expectations of others, often feeling overwhelmed and undervalued.
But it was my fault.
I said yes to everything, stretching myself too thin. It’s no surprise that I ended up feeling frustrated and exhausted.
I didn’t set effective boundaries, and it took a toll on my well-being. My lack of boundaries had led to a life where my own needs and desires were constantly sidelined. I realized that this was unsustainable and that something had to change
Luckily I came across Greg McKeown’s bestseller Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less and it’s no exaggeration to say it was a game changer for me.
I’m a great reader, but more than anyone else, this book opened my eyes to the power of discernment, of choosing what matters.
His insights have helped me begin the journey of setting boundaries and standing firm on my own needs and values.
I haven’t mastered it yet, but I’m on my way there.
If so, you can probably identify with the seven signs below.
Let’s dive in.
1) You say ‘no’ without any guilt
Just a few years ago, the prospect of turning down requests and invitations filled me with dread. What if I offended someone? What if I missed it?
It took time and some research, but now saying no brings a sense of freedom rather than a burden of guilt.
It’s not about being dismissive or unkind. It’s quite the opposite.
By carefully considering my boundaries and respectfully developing what doesn’t align with them, I honor my own needs and time. This practice has allowed me to more fully engage with the commitments I want to fulfill.
Either way, the point is that saying “no” with conviction and without elaborate excuses is a clear sign that you value your boundaries and stand firm in them.
This shift may seem small, but the consequences are enormous. It paints a picture of someone who knows his value and is not afraid to uphold it.
If you too are at this point, don’t just set boundaries; you live them.
2) You can communicate your boundaries clearly
It’s one thing to know your boundaries internally, and another to express them unambiguously and directly.
This doesn’t mean you have to be harsh or confrontational. Rather, it’s about being assertive yet respectful. This can be accomplished through clear, concise language and by focusing on your needs and feelings rather than accusing or blaming others.
For example, instead of saying, “You always dump your tasks on me at the last minute,” try, “I need to be assigned tasks with more notice to manage my workload effectively.”
The point is, setting boundaries isn’t just about saying no; it’s about expressing your preferences and boundaries in a way that is positive and proactive.
If you can do this consistently, it’s a sign that you’ve mastered standing up for yourself.
3) You don’t explain your choices too much
Imagine this: you are at a crossroads and have to make a choice that others may not immediately understand.
Many people would feel the need to justify their decisions at length, seeking validation or… for fear of judgement but if you’ve mastered setting boundaries, you won’t.
The urge to over-explain comes from a place of feeling insecure about our decisions. But when you really master setting boundaries and standing up for yourself, you realize that your choices don’t always need outside approval.
You are happy to know that the reasons behind your actions are valid simply because they align with your values and needs.
The moment we no longer feel obliged to give long explanations for our preferences is the moment we claim control over our lives.
It’s not about dismissing the curiosity or concerns of others; it’s about trusting the legitimacy of your boundaries.
4) You handle pushback with grace
When we assert our boundaries, we will inevitably initially encounter resistance from the people around us. These may be colleagues, friends or family who are used to our previously overly accommodating nature.
Mercy in the face of such resistance means primarily remaining calm and steadfast in your decisions. It involves actively listening to others’ concerns, acknowledging their feelings, and then calmly reaffirming your boundaries.
Another important aspect is that you should not take the opposition personally. Often the resistance you face has more to do with the other person’s reaction to change than with criticism of your boundaries. Understanding this will help you respond not defensively, but with empathy and assertiveness.
If you find yourself able to handle this resistance with calm confidence, consider it an important milestone in mastering boundary setting.
5) You are selective with your energy
“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
Yes, the above quote is overused, to say the least. But in this context it makes so much sense.
Understanding where to invest our energy is the same as knowing which struggle is worth fighting. Not every situation, invitation or request deserves our time and attention.
It means recognizing that energy is a finite resource and treating it as such. It means saying yes to things that align with our values and goals, and gracefully developing things that don’t contribute positively to our lives.
Ace passed by Greg McKeown:
“If it’s not a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”
If you find yourself living this and understanding that not everything deserves your bandwidth, it’s a clear indication that you’ve mastered an important aspect of boundary setting.
You stand up for yourself by choosing quality over quantity in all aspects of life.
6) You trust your instincts
It may sound like an embarrassing cliché, but trusting your instincts is also a crucial aspect of mastering boundary setting.
This goes beyond logical reasoning. It’s about being attuned to your inner signals that indicate whether something feels right or wrong to you.
It is listening to that subtle inner voice that warns you when a situation is not in harmony with your personal values or pushes you out of your comfort zone.
Trusting your instincts also means not constantly seeking external validation for your boundaries. You recognize that your feelings and comfort levels are valid reasons to set boundaries, even though they may not seem logical to others.
7) You respect the boundaries of others
Have you ever noticed how respecting someone else’s boundaries can strengthen your own?
By discovering the balance between give and take in relationships, I have come to understand that mastering boundaries is not only about my own boundaries, but also about respecting the boundaries that others set.
It is a mutual respect that creates a healthy dynamic.
Recognizing and respecting others’ boundaries made them more receptive to ours. It’s like a tacit agreement that we all have our boundaries that should not be crossed.
If you are also careful not to overstep and at the same time expect the same politeness in return, it is a strong indication that you have mastered the art of setting boundaries and standing up for yourself.
it comes down to
There you have it, friends. Setting and enforcing boundaries is certainly not easy, but it is crucial.
If you can identify with all the above signs, kudos to you. You are better at setting boundaries than most.
If not, I hope this post has given you some inspiration to become the kind of person who does.
Until next time.
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