A while ago there was an episode about setting clear boundaries, episode 5: “About llamas and boundaries: learning how not to explain ourselves from the llama lady”:
Clearly stated, not justified.
Sounds simple and logical at first.
But why is this so easy in some areas and so difficult in others? After the episode, a number of people approached me about it, including friends and clients, and I decided that I would like to do an episode on this topic as well.
Why do we have the impression that we explain and justify a lot to others on some issues?
In fact, probably because we do.
And why is that?
In fact not only because of the others who do not accept a boundary from us.
What part of it is triggered in us?
It may be due to the fact that we ourselves do not have a clear attitude towards this issue. For example, we have a need to which we do not stand by or have no positive attitude.
Maybe we need peace and quiet, time for ourselves.
Are we allowed to do that?
Maybe it would make it uncomfortable for others to have to wait for us, for example.
Are we allowed to do that?
Maybe we don’t want to help someone because that would actually cause physical pain.
Are we allowed to say no?
Maybe you’ve already found yourself in one of these situations. Or maybe you just shook your head over it and thought, “Sure, what a stupid question!”
On what topic do you justify yourself to others or do you feel like your boundaries are being crossed?
If you can’t think of anything directly, observe in which situations you are getting upset when someone asks you for something. Or when you only set a boundary when you are already angry. These are the moments when you are not able to explain something in a friendly way or to say clearly no or to express your need.
Those are the moments when you get stroppy, when you feel angry afterwards or feel badly treated.
The moment when your inner voice starts to grumble or moan.
And why is that? Why does that happen?
Very often our needs are not met in such moments. Maybe we’ve been so unaware of our needs that we haven’t paid attention to ourselves. Or we knew it was there and couldn’t or wouldn’t give it to us for some reason. For example, because we think it would be selfish. That we just can’t give that to ourselves right now. That there’s not enough time for it. That we have to be there for the others. That we have learned values, for example reliability or politeness and we think that we have to stick to them.
I can think of many different examples from the last months.
A client, for example, has severe back and joint pain again and again. He had agreed to help with a move and then had severe pain in the morning. We found out together that his value is “reliability”. This puts him in a dilemma in the morning. Does he cancel because he already has pain? Then he is unreliable for his friends and feels bad about it. Does he go and risk being in extreme pain for days?
It’s helpful to realize why you can’t take care of yourself in that moment. And what does reliability actually mean? Just being reliable to others? Or also to yourself, that you look after yourself when your body is in a bad condition.
Or the example of a friend who is well trained and therefore looks as if he can help friends with a move without any problems. But he has an injury. When asked by his friends he says “no”, but he feels he has to justify himself and that his “no” is not well received. The fact is that he cannot help – he would hurt himself and be in pain. It sounds quite logical not to help. But why does it feel weird?
If you can think of an example now, look at how you face your need.
Are you aware of your need and are you okay taking care of yourself?
Sometimes the answer is first a “yes” and when we look deeper, we only notice that it is a “no” or that it is unclear. Guilt, shame, “I should have”…
And it’s definitely worth taking a closer look. Alone in silence, with friends, with a coach…
The clearer you are about your needs, the better you can take care of yourself – and set friendly and clear boundaries.
Then you can also communicate them clearly. And at the same time you can explain to the other person why. There is a difference between explaining and justifying. When you are clear on a topic, it is easy for you to communicate in a friendly (and possibly determined) way and explain to the other person why this is so. Then you do not need to justify yourself.
I wish you an exciting journey of discovery!
Be happy & be light