Good Fences Make Good Neighbors for Thriving Individuals Too!

Boundaries, or fences, as Robert Frost discussed in his poem, do indeed make good neighbors. We like to know what the limits are so we know what is important to someone else. Boundaries also allow us to take care of ourselves and make better long-term decisions. I sometimes picture boundaries the way dogs sometimes guard their territory; there are dogs that are very aware of the person or other dog who is just walking past her territory line and others who need a growl to remind them, “this is my space, just sayin’…”

How to set and keep boundaries? Some easy steps to follow:

First decide what’s important to you. Is it really important to get to the gym or perhaps to make sure that all of you sit down to dinner together? Then you can make decisions around those priorities. While a long gabfest over a diner breakfast might be very tempting, if it interferes with your trainer and that’s a priority, then the gym wins and it will have to be another time for gabbing.

Secondly it’s good to know when you can and ought to be flexible. That same gabfest might take on a different priority if it’s a friend who has just lost their job and needs some time. Or if heading to the dentist’s office due to pain might be more important to attend to then the gym.

Communicating our priorities to others so they are aware of them allows for open dialogue, “I would love to have lunch with you rather than breakfast because getting to the gym first thing in the morning is really important to me.”

Don’t think you already have boundaries setting skills? I would suggest you take a look at your daily routine and see where it is that you have ‘lines’ that you are mindful of; know that you need to leave at a certain time to get to work on time? That’s a boundary. Do you make sure to turn off the TV or light in order to go to bed ‘on time’? That’s a boundary too.  Keep a list for a week and I’d bet that you have some great beginnings at the practice of setting and keeping boundaries!