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Drawing Boundaries is an Essential Skill for Getting What You Want

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If you’d like to learn how to implement boundaries in your everyday life so you can be fulfilled, sign up for the free 90-Day Master Class hosted by the founder of Addicted2Success.com, Joel Brown.


How many times have we all caved and immediately said yes to something we didn’t really want to do? Then, we either do the thing begrudgingly, or we give it our all and resent it every step of the way. Martyrdom will not get you what you want, but it will give you hemorrhoids. A U.S. Supreme Court justice once famously said that your right to swing your fist ends at my nose. A lack of boundaries is self-sabotage, and your inability to draw them will seriously obstruct you from getting your heart’s desires.

Establishing boundaries is an essential skill if you want to be fulfilled. Below, I’ll share some tips that will help you start implementing boundaries in your everyday life:

1. Get Clear on the Yes Behind the No

Let’s start with a basic technique for drawing a line in the sand that also incorporates a golden one-liner. A brilliant, fundamental phrase with three simple words is “No, thank you.” 

Why is this phrase so hard for some of us to say?! All you people pleasers, all you go-along-to-get-alongers, I get it. I relate. Saying no can be difficult. Yet, when you get clear on what you’re actually saying yes to, it gets a whole lot easier. 

The next time someone asks, “Will you volunteer for this committee?” take a moment to pause and think through what you really want. Before you utter a single, solitary word, and before they pounce on you, ask yourself, “If I don’t want to volunteer, what am I saying yes to? My self-respect? My integrity? Investing my time in a better opportunity? Ensuring my value?” Getting clarity on what you’re saying yes to is crucial for increasing your confidence and saying no with conviction. 

Maybe by saying no to volunteering, you are saying yes to more hours with your kids or more time to exercise. You might possibly be saying yes to less stress and more energy to complete an important project. Perhaps you’re saying yes to some sorely needed time to unwind. 

Saying no does not require an explanation, nor does it require an apology, but it does require clarity. This clarity comes from knowing exactly what you’re saying yes to. To set good boundaries, ask yourself, “What are my negotiables and non-negotiables? What might I need to say no to? And what does that mean I’m saying yes to instead?” 

Once you get clear on the yes behind the no, it’s much easier to say it without apologizing, delaying a commitment that you don’t ever want to fulfill, or saying yes resentfully.

“When you say ‘Yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘No’ to yourself.” – Paulo Coelho

2. Know When To Say No (to Yourself)

Setting boundaries doesn’t always require a verbal no. It can be a quiet, internal awareness of your limits and your own unique operating system. What you need and want is to best manage an optimal and highly functioning you. 

Do you know how to set limits with others as well as yourself? Do you know when to say yes and when to say no to yourself? Knowing when to say no is not the same as being able to say no. Fully knowing that we are separate from others helps us honor our own individual needs. It also makes it easier to filter out all the noise and take care of yourself. 

Can you hear your own needs and desires above the din of family, friends, neighbors, online posts, advertising campaigns, and well-intentioned soul-suckers? Can you feel your desires and needs through the screen of guilt, fear, or wanting to be liked? 

Setting boundaries is accepting the assignment of managing and caring for your own well-being. You are 100 percent responsible for your choices, decisions, and actions. When you can’t say no to the requests, demands, and pressures of others, you are no longer practicing self-care but other-care. When you can’t say yes to the self-care you need, such as time to refuel, reset, or rest, you’ve stopped accepting responsibility for self-love.

When you have clarity on where another person’s space ends and where your sense of self begins, establishing boundaries gets a whole lot easier. 

3. Stop Feeling Guilty

When you feel guilty because you believe you should say yes, should agree, should help out, you’re no longer in self-control and self-management, but rather self-denial, and in some cases self-abuse. You tell yourself,” A good person helps. David needs me. Jane shouldn’t do this alone. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” 

Even when you perceive that you are sacrificing your wants for the wants of others, it doesn’t necessarily make you generous or a responsible adult. However, it can make you question why you aren’t happier or why you feel empty or unfulfilled. It can make you wonder why you often feel lonely and left out or underappreciated and disrespected. It can result in your being stretched too thin or feeling exhausted.

Until you start to see that so-and-so isn’t actually making you do anything without your willing consent, you will never practice the discipline of self-care and self-love. Learning to draw lines in the sand is a fundamental skill of getting what you want.

It doesn’t mean you never help others. It means that you take care of yourself so that you, as your most awesome self, can go out and make a positive difference.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” – Steve Jobs

4. Their Reaction Is Out of Your Hands

You may be thinking, “That’s great, but what if they don’t cave so easily? What if they snarl and bite and say horrible things in reaction to my offer or request?” Let them. Inoculate yourself against their choices. You’re not responsible for their reactions. You are responsible for creating the life you want. One hundred percent responsible. 

The next time they throw a temper tantrum or behave egregiously, you might say in response to their tantrum, “Thank you for validating my request. As we can both see, it’s more than understandable.” 

Warning: this response won’t have them sitting up, smiling, and waiting for you to toss them a treat and say, “Good boy!” What it will do is let them know you respect yourself enough to have boundaries, and you won’t tolerate being pulled into their mess.

5. Install a Gate

Setting a boundary is not about building some huge, impenetrable wall. It’s about installing a gate. You can walk through it when you want. You can come and go as you please. 

With a gate, you can easily hand out the security code to a few folks and you can deny it to others. If need be, you can change the code. In other words, there are times you will say yes. There are times you will step up, not out of resentful obligation, but because you genuinely want to lend a hand. 

Then, there are times you will focus on yourself, without guilt, without fear, and without worrying that somehow you will be punished for prioritizing self-love. Taking care of yourself, showing yourself that you matter, and working through your resistance to setting boundaries is a splendid way to help yourself get whatever you want. 

How do you set boundaries in your daily lives? Share your advice and thoughts with us in the comments!

Amy K Hutchens is an international award-winning speaker, Amazon bestselling author, and has over nineteen years of experience in training and consulting with clients such as The Home Depot, Starbucks Canada, Comerica Bank, Expedia, Lockheed Martin, Securian Financial, Walmart, John Paul Mitchell Systems, and hundreds more. AmyK travels the globe sharing with executives, influencers, and go-getters how to navigate their toughest conversations. AmyK received her MS from Johns Hopkins University, and has been a featured guest on numerous TV and radio networks including Bloomberg, NBC, Fox, and ABC. She resides in San Diego, California.

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Life

The Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

Balancing is for your checkbook, gymnastics, and nutrition; not for your people’s work/life ratio.

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How to Find the Courage to Start New

Change is scary, but it’s a normal part of life.

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It’s 2023, a new year, new you, right? But how do we start over? How do we make the changes in our lives that we crave so much to see?  (more…)

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Failing is More Important Than Succeeding

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma

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Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.

 

Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:

 

1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.

 

2. Persistent Pain

 
Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
 
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.
 
 

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

 
Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
 
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
 
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
 
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.
 

4. A strong need for control

 
It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
 
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
 
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.
 
 

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

 
Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
 
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.
 
 

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

 
Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
 
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.
 

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

 
 
If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to awebliss.com and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
 
 
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