This week we looked at various ways the people closest to us can inadvertently - or sometimes intentionally - interfere with our attempts to transition to a change.
We explored three main aspects of interference:
Tips for working with all of these characteristics were explored, but there is one more approach that can be helpful in all of these situations: Boundaries.
Boundaries, or safeguarding our change.
Boundaries create a framework around our change effort. They can provide protection for staying the course at a time when outside influences can knock us off-track. When used correctly, they can also help to prevent our change from negatively effecting others.
Boundaries are a way of granting ourselves permission to say “no” to others, to ask for what we want with confidence, and to keep ourselves and our needs as the priority during our change.
Without them, it can be easy to lose sight of what is most important to us; to feel compelled to follow the advice of others even when it doesn't feel right, to allow negative behaviors of others to persist, or to let our much-needed time, focus and energy dwindle away when the best, yet unguided, intentions of others result in extra effort.
By consciously creating boundaries for ourselves during our transition and change, we can more clearly communicate to others our specific desires and needs, and can also draw these things out in others, which can help to minimize the impact our change has on them.
We are also better equipped to reject attempts by friends or family members to interfere. Even when well-intentioned, their interference only becomes our problem when we allow it, and boundaries help us to prevent that from happening.
How to set and protect our boundaries.
Establishing boundaries takes a certain amount of resolve and courage.
Resolve in the sense that we have to consciously decide that these boundaries are in our best interest and must be protected, even when difficult, and courage because some people won’t appreciate or respect our right to establish and protect our boundaries. When this happens, we will have to choose whether or not to continue to involve these people in our change plans or associated efforts.
This might sound cold, but boundaries are a way of protecting our best interests during our transition and associated change.
People who are unable or unwilling to respect our need to stay the course by our terms - despite our best efforts to include them in understanding our desires and needs during this time - are impeding our ability to smoothly transition.
Whether they mean to be or not, these people are being disruptive, and we let ourselves down when we allow this to happen.
The 3 main ingredients to setting boundaries.
There are three main parts to establishing boundaries:
This is a good time to try to identify the impact our change will have on those closest to us, such as family members or others who might experience adjustments as we transition. See this post for tips on how to minimize or resolve potential unintentional consequences as a result of our change.
In doing this, it is important to try to keep the conversation positive, and to keep the focus on what we need in order to successfully achieve our desired change, “it is hard for me to hear the downside of this change right now, because I’m trying to build momentum to get through it. I really appreciate your efforts to open my eyes to the dangers, but right now what I need from you is encouragement and positivity.”
In a lot of ways, establishing boundaries is similar to defining our solace. Check out this and this for more information on designing your own solace plan.
If we have friends or family members, for example, who want to connect us with anyone and everyone who may have some relationship to the type of change we are planning, we may feel compelled out of courtesy to take action when we really don’t want to.
We might want to accept their invitations, or schedule phone-calls or other things even when we’d rather be spending our time doing things we’ve deemed more important.
A good mantra to use during these situations is, “only do what feels good and right.”
This is just one example of where saying "no" can be helpful, but remember that we are the people going through the change and our time and energy are valuable. So why not make the effort to protect them?
Boundaries = structure and clarity.
Boundaries are really just a means of adding structure and clarity to our change.
This not only helps us to stay focused and ensure we receive the kind of support we need from others, but also helps others understand our needs as well.
While some push-back to our boundaries is to be expected, the more we exercise our freedom of choice to protect them, the easier it becomes and the more liberating it feels.
So what are we waiting for? It's time to liberate ourselves to focus on our change!
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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