the anxiety of establishing boundaries: it’s the worst but I’ll regret it if I don’t


Written by Meg Kant

the anxiety of establishing boundaries: it’s the worst but I’ll regret it if I don’t

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I find boundaries really hard and uncomfortable. I also find that they have an incredibly significant impact on my wellbeing when I implement them. So creating and upholding boundaries is a big priority for me (despite how much I hate it). 

Recently I was getting ready to have a difficult conversation with someone in my life. I knew that the conversation would be uncomfortable and so I was mentally preparing what I was going to say. I planned how to set up the conversation so it wouldn’t feel confrontational. I also planned a gentle way to get my point across as well as my arguments for when my request would undoubtedly be denied/challenged.

the mental battle plan

As I was preparing to have this conversation, I spoke to a brilliant friend of mine (thank you Bianca!). I explained how anxious I was and then gave her the rundown of my mental battle plan. She lovingly listened and then said something so simple, yet profound that it genuinely changed my pending experience. 

She said, “You actually don’t have to give a reason.  You don’t need to defend yourself or your choice.  You can actually just say, “I’m not comfortable with that, so we won’t be doing it. ” Full stop.” 

While I have heard the concept of just saying no countless times before, hearing it in the context of how I could apply it in my own life and situation was actually mind blowing.

no explanation needed

A big source of stress about the anticipated conversation was determining my responses to any and all objectives that were likely to come up. But when Bianca pointed out that the clearest, most direct communication could release me from having to defend myself in a back and forth, it was like a breath of fresh air. YES. I could just say no. No explanation needed. This boundary was a non-negotiable so rather than get into the nitty gritty of why (or why not) I could just state that it isn’t happening. 

Bianca also shared her observation that the more clear she gets on her boundaries, the more she realizes it is actually about doing less, not more. So often when we think of boundaries we imagine they are a big list of things we need to do, when in reality, oftentimes it involves doing less. 

  • Explaining ourselves less;
  • Doing things we don’t want less (or not at all); 
  • Being in space with people we don’t want to be with less; 
  • Volunteering for things we don’t want to do less; 
  • Beating ourselves up less; 

The list goes on but I find it really interesting that by doing less it feels more emotionally challenging for me. I am used to defending myself and making other people comfortable in understanding my choices. It is emotional labour that has become a natural part of my lived experience much of the time. So not doing it actually takes a great deal of effort on my part.

I want people to agree with my choices

I want people to agree with my boundaries, I want people to see and understand that my choice is the right choice. However, slowly but surely I am learning that upholding boundaries means getting comfortable with the fact that a lot of the time people will not agree with me. They will not understand my boundaries, and will at times be upset/hurt/angry/sad about them. But that doesn’t mean I won’t uphold them. 

I am hopeful that over time it will get easier to just be clear, kind, concise and not have to defend myself. So I’m going to continue to trudge along; reluctantly upholding my boundaries and settling into the discomfort of doing so, until it eventually doesn’t feel so hard.

How do you feel about setting boundaries? Are you experienced in it? Is it a new process for you? What is one boundary you wish you had but have been struggling to set?  Feel free to share in the comments.

the anxiety of establishing boundaries: it’s the worst but I’ll regret it if I don’t


Meg Kant




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