If you have to rehearse positive statements in the 21st century and you own an iPod, why not put those statements, or affirmations on your iPod and shuffle them with your favorite music? - Inge Loots
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ipop-in is all about bringing affirmations to techno-savvy, busy, iPod wearing people who want to kick it up a notch by putting good stuff in the brain. - Kristen Schuerlein, Founder, Affimagy, Inc.
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- Larina Kase, PsyD, MBA, President Performance & Success Coaching
I am on vactation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I tried to set up an article series for you to read while I am gone. I goofed though! I only published part 2. :) I just now published part I and you can find Part II here.
Jane started a new job recently. She likes her co-workers and her job, but she is not sure about her boss. Pete, her new boss, has been gossiping about all of the people in the company. Pete has given her the rundown on all the co-workers including how his personal opinions about each one. He has even asked for Jane’s advice on how to deal with one of Jane’s co-workers. Jane feels very uncomfortable with Pete and she is not sure what to do.
Harry shared private information about his marital problems with Frank in confidence. Frank later shared this information with Joe. Joe asks Harry how he is doing with his marital difficulties. Harry is mad and feels betrayed.
Rose had a colleague, Bob, who occasionally put his hands on her shoulders when he was in her office. Rose felt uncomfortable with Bob’s touch.
What do these stories have in common? All of them involve boundary violations. Pete was sharing inappropriate information with a supervisee. If Pete needs to discuss how to handle an employee, then he should seek out someone who is at the same level in the organization as he is. Frank violated a boundary by sharing private information with Joe. Bob violated Rose’s boundaries by touching her without permission.
What are boundaries? Boundaries are what separate you from others. Boundaries provide emotional and physical space between you and others. They are the limits you set for how you want to be treated. They are invisible lines that you draw to define yourself and your space. Healthy boundaries help keep you safe, allow you to create intimate relationships, and promote integrity. You have both external and internal boundaries.
External boundaries are your physical limits. They help you protect your physical space and your body. Your external boundaries dictate how close you let others get to you, as well as, how you want to be touched and by whom. While external boundaries are not tangible, most people are aware of their physical boundaries when someone gets too close to them. Think back to a time when you were talking to someone who kept moving in closer and closer to you. At what point did you begin to feel uncomfortable? That is when your physical boundary was violated.
External boundaries also include the limits you set for your possessions. You may allow a close friend to borrow your car, but if a stranger asked to borrow your car you would say no. You have the right to set limits on who gets to use your belongings and how they are used. Weak external boundaries make it difficult to understand where your physical space ends and another’s begins. You may believe that others have the right to touch you anytime and in any way.
Weak external boundaries may lead you to believe that what is yours is also everyone else’s. Rigid external boundaries prevent you from getting physically close to anyone. You may feel uncomfortable hugging or touching anyone, including your family.
Rigid external boundaries can help keep out unwanted and harmful physical contact; unfortunately, you also miss out on the pleasure of healthy contact.
Healthy external boundaries are durable yet yielding. You control the space that you need. You adjust your boundaries as needed; letting friends and family in closer than strangers. When you have healthy external boundaries you understand that it is always your right to choose how, when, and by whom you will be touched. You will defend your space and your body if someone violates your boundaries. You also understand that you have the right to decide who can use your possessions and how they will be used.
Internal boundaries are a little more difficult to grasp, but they are every bit as important as physical boundaries. Internal boundaries help you distinguish yourself as a unique individual with unique thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires. Your internal boundaries set the tone for how others treat you.
If your internal boundaries are too permeable or too weak you will have a hard time distinguishing your needs and desires from other’s needs and desires. You may feel responsible for other people’s feelings and believe that they are responsible for your feelings. Relationships can then become enmeshed. Enmeshment is when a person in a relationship feels the need to think and feel the same way as the other person and thus, loses their unique identity.
Internal boundaries that are too rigid create great distance in relationships and interfere with intimacy. If you have rigid internal boundaries you likely have trouble getting close to anyone and may shut out those around you. You may appear cold and distant.
Healthy internal boundaries require that you take responsibility for your emotions, thoughts, and attitudes. You are not responsible for anyone else’s feelings and they are not responsible for yours. If you have healthy boundaries, you know yourself well enough to understand your feelings, needs, desires, and emotions. You ask for what you need and defend yourself against those who attempt to violate your boundaries. You know how you want to be treated and you communicate that to others. You can adjust your boundaries based on the situation and what is right for you.
Know yourself. Self-awareness is key to healthy boundaries. You need to know what you like and dislike – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It is important to spend time assessing how you want to be treated. If you have trouble with this, check out my article on Learning to Love Yourself. It is important to understand that you have a right to your own opinions and beliefs. You have a right to decide how you want to be touched and by whom.
Visualize your boundaries – You can use imagery to establish your boundaries. Imagine a bubble of light surrounding you completely. Imagine this bubble of light as your boundary. It helps keep you separate from others and protects you from unwanted intrusions. This bubble is very strong, yet it is semi-permeable. It will allow in the things and people that you choose and keep out anything harmful. Imagine this bubble surrounding you at all times. In your mind’s eye picture someone yelling at you and you see their words bouncing right off your bubble. Now, imagine someone giving you a compliment and see their words passing right through the bubble into your heart.
Affirm your boundaries - You can also use affirmations to help you build your boundaries. Remember that repetition is key to getting the most out of your affirmations. Try these affirmations: I have a right to my feelings, thoughts, needs, and opinions. I have the right to say no. If someone is abusive or disrespects me, I have the right to stand up for myself.
Communicate your boundaries – It is your responsibility to let others know what your boundaries are. If someone crosses a line and violates a boundary of yours, you need to let them know. You need to be able to assert yourself and take care of your needs. You can’t expect others to automatically know what your boundaries are. You are unique and have unique boundaries. It is important to be assertive and clear when you communicate your boundaries. In the examples above, Jane could say to her boss, “I am not comfortable with you sharing this information with me. I would prefer if we stick to business.” Harry could say to Frank, “I feel angry that you shared my private information with Joe. Please do not do that again.” Rose could gently remove Bob’s hand and say, “That feels uncomfortable, please do not touch me like that.”
Enforce your boundaries - To claim your personal power and maintain your integrity, you need to be willing to protect yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you express your boundaries and someone still violates them, it is your responsibility to issue consequences. You need to enforce your boundaries and be willing to take appropriate action even when a small violation has occurred.
If you do not enforce your boundaries, you give the message that it is ok to let someone violate your boundaries. If a person crosses a boundary and you do not let them know, they are likely to repeat the offense. In fact, their behavior and boundary violations may escalate. If you allow this to continue it then becomes more and more difficult to correct this issue.
If Pete (see Part I) continues to talk about Jane’s co-workers even after she has asked him to stop, Jane needs to take action. She could get up and leave the room when Pete violates this boundary. If that doesn’t work, she could request another supervisor or she could report Pete’s inappropriate behavior to his boss.
The bottom line is that it is your responsibility to know and protect your boundaries. Boundaries are not meant to keep people away from you. They are necessary so that you can develop healthy relationships. Boundaries are meant to preserve your health, safety, and integrity. The key is to develop strong, but flexible boundaries. Boundaries are driven by context – you area able to adjust your boundaries depending on the situation. When you learn to create and enforce healthy boundaries you are claiming your personal power and taking responsibility for your life.
Success Magazine's second issue is out on the stands (I do not get paid for my posts about Success Magazine, I just think it is a powerful resource and I want to see it succeed). Their featured article highlights the 50 most influential entrepreneurs. According to Success Magazine, "Beginning with Benjamin Franklin, America’s original entrepreneur, the list celebrates innovators and mavericks who helped discover, develop and shape today’s world. The 50 recognized—including Thomas Edison, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs and Walt Disney—have revolutionized business, opened opportunities for others and changed the way we think and live."
Grab a copy and dig in! The folks at Success are open to our suggestions for people that should have made the top 50 list. You can give them your recommendations at their website. After reading the list, I was disappointed that there weren't very many women on the list. Perhaps we need to step up our game so that we can dominate the next list of top entrepreneurs!
The article on Russell Simmons is worth checking out too. He is full of wisdom and insight about success.
If you are looking for some inspirational reading this weekend, check out the Carnival of Inspiration and Motivation. There a plenty of articles to keep you busy and to help boost your personal growth.