· By Allison Norris
B is for Boundaries
The Coaches Corner with Coach Caren Gillespie
A Bizzy Mental Health Moment
Boundaries Unleashed: The ICEU Approach for Your Empowerment Journey
Let's dive right in. As a life coach, I've been helping countless individuals on their quest for personal growth and self-discovery. And guess what keeps popping up like a stubborn weed in their beautiful gardens of life? Boundaries. Yep, you read that right. Boundaries are like the unsung heroes of personal well-being and self-empowerment. So, hold on as we explore the wild world of boundaries, with a little help from my ICEU approach: Investigate, Create, Express and Uphold.
The Many Faces of Boundaries
First off, let's break it down. Boundaries aren't just about physical space. We've got an entire buffet of them:
Emotional Boundaries: These set the stage for how much emotional baggage you're willing to haul for others and how much you'll allow others to unload on you. It's like deciding if your friend's daily emotional meltdown is something you can handle without downing a bottle of wine.
Physical Boundaries: These are all about your personal space and who gets to enter it and when. It's your way of saying, "Back up, Susan, I need some breathing room!"
Material Boundaries: Now, this one's about your stuff. Who can borrow your stuff and how they treat it. This includes your home, desk, car etc…
Sexual Boundaries: In the world of intimacy, these boundaries define your comfort zones. Remember, consent is king, queen, and everything in between. These are very important.
Financial Boundaries: Money can be messy, right? These boundaries are about how you manage your finances with others. Ever had a friend who thinks "splitting the bill" means you pay for their lobster feast? Yep, that's where financial boundaries come into play.
Time Boundaries: Time is precious. How you spend it can affect your sanity. It's all about deciding who can use your time and when, especially in the workplace and at home.
Communication Boundaries: These govern how you express yourself, set expectations, and engage in polite conversation. Are you okay with someone sending you a novel of a text, or are you more of a "just call me" kind of person? Is less more for you?
The Story of Sarah
Now, let's meet Sarah. Sarah's the kind of a “yes” woman. She's constantly juggling a zillion things, from her demanding job to her household chores, all while performing the greatest disappearing act known to humanity: invisible labor. What's that, you ask? Well, it's all the hard work that keeps a household running smoothly but gets zero recognition. "Oh good, the magic clean towel is back in the bathroom!" (sound familiar?) We dug into the ICEU approach immediately.
Investigate: See Where Boundaries Are Needed
Sarah's life was like a circus without a ringmaster. She was stretched thin, and it didn't take much to see where boundaries were needed. Her emotional boundaries were like a revolving door for other people's drama, her physical boundaries were nonexistent, and her time boundaries... Well, they were more of a "come one, come all" affair.
Create: Come Up with the Needed Boundary
With newfound clarity, we got to work. Sarah decided she deserved some "me-time." So, we brainstormed some activities that might bring her some peace.
Sarah: "You know what I miss? Painting. I used to love it."
Me: "Painting it is, then! Let's carve out some 'me-time' for Sarah and her brushes."
Express: Communicate the Boundary
Now came the real test – telling her family about her newfound boundary. We then practiced assertive communication:
Sarah (firmly yet kindly): "Family, I need some 'me-time' for my sanity. So, on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 pm, I'm off duty."
Uphold: Keep Refreshing as Needed
Setting boundaries isn't a one-and-done deal; it's more like a subscription that needs renewing. Sarah learned this the hard way when her family tried to sneak in some "helpful" requests. But she stood her ground and reminded them about her 'me-time' like a boss.
The Kindness of Boundaries
Take note-boundaries are not just about locking others out. They're about self-love and respect. When you have boundaries, you're basically saying, "Hey, here's the user manual for how to treat me with care."
Breaking the Pattern
When we were younger, many of us weren't handed the boundary rulebook; instead, we got a crash course in people-pleasing 101. We were taught to be the ultimate multitaskers, the "yes" people who never say no, and we took that lesson to heart.
People Pleasers: The Struggle to Say No
So, let's talk about people-pleasers. In the female world, we're pros at it. We grew up in a time of high expectations, where we're expected to "have it all" and be the ultimate superheroes. But sometimes, this pressure drives us to say yes to everything.
Reforming from People Pleasing
Reforming from people-pleasing is like learning to ride a bike again. You start with those wobbly training wheels. My client Emily, for example, realized she was knee-deep in commitments she couldn't keep up with.
Emily was the reigning champion of people pleasing. She was the go-to person for every favor, the volunteer extraordinaire, and the master of biting off more than she could chew. (Cue overwhelm.) But one day, Emily looked at her calendar and had a moment of clarity – it was time for a change.
We decided to take baby steps in her process and employed the ICEU approach. She looked at her list of commitments and thought, "Maybe I've overbooked myself just a bit.”
So, Emily crafted an email to the various organizations she'd pledged her undying allegiance to. She explained that she needed to dial it back a notch due to personal reasons (read: sanity preservation). She expressed her gratitude for the opportunities and her desire to continue helping, just in a more "I-can-actually-breathe" capacity.
Initially, Emily felt guilty. The fear of disappointing others made her feel like a disappointment. But then something magical occurred – by setting boundaries, Emily unlocked the mystical powers of having more time and energy.
Over time, Emily morphed from a boundary-setting novice into a boundary-setting pro. She could say "no" with confidence and conviction. She was holding herself in the highest esteem and practicing self-care.
Now, let's talk about why people-pleasers like Emily have trouble saying "no." It's not because they secretly want to be the world's doormat; it's because they fear rejection or conflict.
But here's the deal: people-pleasers often use their never-ending niceness as a coping mechanism. It's like they're using kindness as duct tape to hold their self-esteem together. So, if you're on the path to reform, take it slow. Recognize your boundaries, celebrate your "no" victories. Be patient, it can take time and practice to master.
Reforming, One Boundary at a Time
Reforming from people-pleasing isn't a sprint; it's a marathon. So, embrace those baby steps. Celebrate those times you said no and mean it. With practice, you'll turn those flimsy boundaries into walls of steel.
There you have it, a tale of Sarah and Emily, two warriors who mastered the art of boundaries using the ICEU approach. So, remember, boundaries aren't about being a heartless fortress; they're about being a self-loving powerhouse. You deserve it, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Now go forth, set those boundaries, and conquer the world – or at least your own little corner of it.