Part 12: Successful vs. Unsuccessful Boundaries
Either your boundaries are successful or they’re not. They either serve you or they don’t. Do they make your life better and more productive, or add stress and frustration? How can you know if they’re working?
Evaluating Your Boundaries
Don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be. Keep it simple by asking yourself this question: How did you feel about your life or situation before you set the boundary versus how you feel now? Do you feel better or worse? Has the situation improved, stayed the same, or worsened?
Some people track daily how they feel about a boundary, either with an app or through journaling. A boundary exists to create a certain dynamic or result, which means it’s measurable.
Perhaps the boundary has to do with your physical health or finances. You can easily track progress and see where you stand. Plus, you can always record how you feel about the boundary and its impact on the quality of your life. Monitor the boundary’s effectiveness to know when it needs to be updated or deleted.
If you don’t feel like you’re making progress despite having the boundary, evaluate the boundary to see if it needs to be more specific, or if it’s being respected by yourself and others consistently,
If within a few months you’re still not making the progress you’d like, try adapting the boundary again or create a new and improved one.
When a boundary is doing its job, you’ll have more peace, happiness, and balance. If everything seems to be going pretty well until someone crosses your boundary, it’s a sign that the boundary you’ve set is actually working; it’s effective.
Remember, your boundaries are reflections of your beliefs, standards, values, wants, goals, desires and needs.
It might be a good idea to set aside time regularly to review your boundaries to see how you feel about them, AND how you feel because of them. Do you have more peace, energy and joy, and more love, harmony, and balance?
Remember to include your professional boundaries. Usually people set workplace boundaries because they feel overworked and stressed. Professional boundaries should keep you from feeling overwhelmed or burned out. If your life is better after the boundary has been in place for a while versus before you set it, you know you’ve set an effective boundary because it’s doing its job.
Ineffective boundaries are easy to spot because they either haven’t changed your situation in a meaningful way or they’ve created more stress and have made the situation worse. What does this mean? It means that they didn’t address the core issue.
When this is the case, don’t panic; just adjust the boundary in question. Keep experimenting and tweaking it until you have a boundary that effectively meets your emotional needs and rights.
What if your boundary has become a source of stress in your life? First, realize that not all stress is bad. A little bit of stress can be a good thing because it motivates us to follow through and get things done. Stress can even be in the form of setting the alarm clock for 5:30 in the morning to get a quick workout in before work. Although it might stress you to get up so early and sweat, it’s good for you… unless you’re getting fewer than six hours of sleep, in which case the boundary needs to be changed.
Boundaries that stress you in unhealthy ways are probably unrealistic or in conflict to how you want to live your life. If the boundary is stressing you, evaluate what it is that you’re really aiming for and then edit the boundary accordingly. Does it really matter if you go to the gym at 5:30 in the morning? Can you swing by for 30 minutes after work instead? Create flexible boundaries that are custom-made for how you want to live your life.
Remember, boundaries are meant to serve you; you’re not a slave to your boundaries. You can change them, get rid of them, or even add more of them. Live your life on your terms.
Set aside time regularly to assess how you feel about your boundaries, and to determine if they’re adding more stress to your life or reducing it. Also, are you happier and in a better mood as a result of your boundaries? Can you see an improvement in your total well-being? Is your life improving? Are you enjoying greater work/life balance? And do you have more quality time for what matters most to you? If so, you can know for sure that your boundaries are effective.