Boundaries Over Burnout
Season 3, Episode 4
We all have at least one person in our lives that requires a well-fortified boundary or two. Without a proper boundary, you are bound to burn out. Oh, if only setting a boundary was easy. Lucky for you, this episode is an easy button. Why burn out when you can simply upgrade your boundary business?
Today we’re going to cover the following:
- What boundaries are
- Healthy boundaries vs unhealthy boundaries
- The various types of boundaries
- How to set and reset boundaries
- Personalities that struggle with setting healthy boundaries
- Personalities that target those with unhealthy boundaries
- Trusting the boundaries you put in place even when there is negative fallout
- How to choose boundaries over burnout
Boundaries over burnout? Challenge accepted! We’re choosing boundaries over burnout because we deserve to have our needs met, our standards respected, and not run ourselves ragged trying to people-please everyone else but ourselves. The burnout when you’re a people pleaser is real and it’s something I see over and over again in relationships that fail. So if you tuned in it’s likely you’re curious about how you can improve some boundaries in your life and the truth is, we ALL can. Every new relationship will require you to set boundaries whether it be professional, personal. As you grow you will drastically change.. so as you change your boundaries will also change. So, let’s dive in.
What are boundaries?
The dictionary definition of boundaries states that they are: “guidelines, rules, or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe, and permissible ways for other people to behave around them and how they will respond when someone steps outside those limits.”
We define boundaries as a set of standards that you live your life by. These boundaries represent physical and emotional limits that you don’t want other people to cross. When your boundaries are respected and you are respecting others’ boundaries you are creating a harmonious relationship.
You might be wondering, why is this important for empowering your life?
- Part of self-love empowerment is saying no to things that don’t serve you anymore or that are not a match for your standards. Essentially having a lack of boundaries in any relationship equals chaos.
A good quote for this concept is:
When you learn how much you’re worth you won’t give discounts”
Healthy boundaries vs unhealthy boundaries
You can have healthy boundaries or unhealthy boundaries and we’re going to define those for you here. Let’s look at healthy boundaries.
Healthy boundaries are the ultimate guide to successful relationships. Without healthy boundaries, relationships do not thrive—they result in feelings of resentment, disappointment, or violation. These healthy boundary patterns are learned early on by how we witnessed our parents in relationships with others but also their relationships with themself.
If your parents put their needs last, you might fall into a similar pattern and lack healthy boundaries. Because so few of us understand what boundaries actually are, we rarely see evidence of them working. We likely didn’t witness healthy boundaries because some of this bad boundary setting is supported by societal norms and pressures.
But when boundaries are healthy and working they can do wonders for your mental and relational health. Boundaries for individuals change as society changes. For example, we have more sensitivities to how a woman wants to be treated. Or how a person of color wants to be treated.
As society grows, our minds expand, our relationships mature and our boundaries, therefore, have to morph as well.
There are certain personalities that struggle with boundaries
There are three abusive clubs for those that are boundary offenders:
- Those with unhealthy boundaries are not good at respecting others. We will call this group the No boundary club.
- Those that get angry about you setting boundaries are those that benefited from you not having any. We’ll call this one the Take advantage club.
- Lastly, it’s the manipulator that makes you feel bad for having boundaries or standards. This is the manipulator club.
If you have trouble setting boundaries, you are not alone. They are hard for all of us, at first, especially if you are a people-pleaser.
How to set healthy boundaries
Let’s look next at how to set healthy boundaries.
Your boundaries are your responsibility. Your job is to know what your boundaries are and communicate them to anyone in your life ahead of them trespassing and especially if they push your boundaries. You will essentially be teaching them what is ok and what is not ok to do and say and do around you.
Setting boundaries will make others feel safe around you and allow you to feel safe in your environment. It is a way to exhibit self-love, thereby increasing the love or consideration shown to you by others. Intact boundaries give measured protection to your space. Through the use of your healthy boundaries, you determine which words and actions you will accept and which you will block when they are unacceptable.
The beauty is you get to decide what these are. Here are some examples of healthy boundaries:
- Saying no without guilt to a situation that doesn’t serve you or feels off.
- Saying yes because you want to do something not because you feel obligated to.
- Freedom is a healthy boundary by giving space for autonomy and avoiding codependency.
- You can respect a boundary by showing respect for differences in opinion, perspective, and feelings.
- Communicating triggers or discomfort.
- Requesting respect and holding a standard for that in all situations.
- Setting a healthy sense of self. This is similar to demanding freedom but clearing up the blurred lines between partnership and codependency.
- Asking for help and accepting help. You get to establish where your boundaries are and what you do and do not want help with.
- Taking space to be an emotional wreck is sometimes only an option when we are alone and allow for emotional upheaval. Taking time away for a break or a breakthrough is a healthy boundary.
- Request an apology if that’s what you need to move on from a jury moment.
Another definition we came across when researching boundaries is this one:
“A boundary is a limit or space between you and the other person; a clear place where you begin and the other person ends . . . The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is, of course, to protect and take good care of you”
You may fall into one of these boundary categories when you look at your relationships. How are you at setting boundaries and how are you at respecting others’ boundaries?
When you cross a boundary of any kind you are inviting the same to be done to you simply by universal law. What you do to others will come back to you. This is the law of karma. (If Universal Laws are foreign to you, check out The 12 Universal Laws show, during season one here.
If you have no boundaries then anything goes and you will constantly be rubbed raw by the sandpaper available for people to use on you because you won’t say STOP, NO, DON’T.
Does that sound extreme? Well, let’s put this into an example so you can grasp the concept.
Hypothetically, you get picked up by an uber driver that has just smoked a cigar and has music blaring loudly that is culturally offensive and he ran every red light and nearly hit a mother and child in the crosswalk. But, instead of asking him to open the window, or turn down the music, or better yet, change the station, slow the f down, and obey the laws, you chose to just sit there silent, suffocating and arriving at your destination depleted and frazzled then you’ve allowed yourself to be violated simply because you didn’t say no. If you asked for fresh air and peaceful music this would teach the driver what you like and it would satisfy your need to feel safe and for your dollars to be spent taking you to your destination without your boundaries being trampled on.
Boundaries of any type are unique to you and you get to choose them as a free human walking on a planet of free will. The driver had preferences that didn’t match yours but in order to know what his boundaries were, you would have had to ask him to adjust his behavior to suit your needs as the customer. He could have said no or offered an apology and followed your healthy boundaries. If you don’t ask, you don’t get it.
If you don’t set boundaries, you cannot expect people to guess how you’d like to be treated. The truth is people are not thinking of you instantly, they are not you and cannot be expected to act the way you would act. They have a choice to think of you inside of relationships if you invite them to the conversation.
Trespassing a boundary always carries a consequence, and it’s important that you communicate what that consequence looks like in advance. For example, a person in an unhealthy relationship might declare that if his partner continues to disrespect his career goals, the relationship will come to an end. It is also crucial to only declare consequences that one is willing to follow through on, or else the boundaries will not be effective.
In general, the key to setting boundaries is first figuring out what you want from your various relationships, setting boundaries based on those desires, and then being clear with yourself and with other people about your boundaries.
Types of boundaries
Physical boundaries represent how we treat our bodies and how we choose others to treat them. This category includes touch, personal space, health needs, and what you do with your own body towards others. Healthy physical boundaries might include letting people know when you need to eat, rest, or move your body. It also includes how close of a talker you’re willing to let in your space.
For example, you might not be a hugger or enjoy a kiss on the cheek from an acquaintance. If you’ve ever been kissed on the mouth during a first-time meeting you know the pain of having your bubble burst. Respecting others’ space might be not trespassing literally in their personal space, reading their phone, or opening their medicine cabinet during a first visit. If you’re uncomfortable physically in any situation it’s important to recognize if your boundaries are being violated or if you’re triggering someone else’s to create an unsafe environment.
Healthy sexual boundaries might sound pretty obvious and sure it’s not just consent, maybe it’s a safe word too. Healthy sexual choices also include respect, alignment, and a willingness to understand desires, and respect privacy. Sexually you can also violate a relationship boundary with an extreme act such as infidelity or a more subtle act such as not practicing mutual pleasing. This boundary seems pretty straightforward but the nuances come when you define your boundaries by requiring a certain contraceptive or respecting a certain cycle aligned with fertility or menstrual cycles.
So there are many boundaries you might set early on in a relationship such as no anal or no oral. To each, its own but sexual boundaries are important to establish early on so you can find out if you’re a compatible match and won’t later violate a request from your lover. If you’ve been told by your sexual partner that they don’t want to do something that’s their boundary and you violate it every time you pressure, sulk or criticize them for not wanting something that you like.
If you’re feeling sexually repressed we have some excellent episodes that cater to letting your freak flag fly but you get to decide what turns you on and what turns you off, always. It may change and that’s why communication relating to sexual preferences is also a way of setting a healthy boundary. Have the talks, share sexual conversations and boundaries regularly so you’re never guessing in the dark or poking around accidentally triggering your loved one to shut down the party.
Intellectual boundaries are one of the most commonly crossed boundaries because they include thoughts, ideas, and the wonderment of being a human and as humans, we like to have opinions. But, we need a safe place to question things, share ideas, brainstorm, create theories, ponder conspiracies, and process information. Intellectual boundaries are violated when we share a difference of opinion or theorize uniquely and we are ridiculed for our thoughts. It’s why some people suggest not talking about polarizing issues over family dinner because it leads to boundary-crossing not to mention indigestion. When you know you disagree on a polarizing issue and you choose to ridicule their position rather than respect it, this is crossing a boundary. rather than listen to learn they may be listening to gather evidence to disprove your position. Discussions are meant to share information, bring value to all the participants, and not determine who is right and who is wrong.
The obvious examples of hard boundaries that should not be crossed are those that divide our country such as racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and political parties. Maybe it’s covid, vaccinations, aliens, what’s happening in one part of the world, or what is happening in own home. If the purpose of the discussion is to harm you or your beliefs this is a non-starter. Recognize the signs when you engage in a tussle with someone that is possibly aiming to cross a boundary to get a negative reaction out of you.
You can always end a negative rant by simply saying, “I don’t see this conversation resulting in a positive solution.” Or you can say, “I require a respectful discourse and I’d prefer to not waste our energy on a difference of opinion.” These are your intellectual boundary sentences for discussions that are manipulative, oppressive, or simply just not serving your relationship. You will always have a difference of opinion with someone you love but you also might have something to learn from them. Learn to recognize the difference. Perspectives help us to expand our views but harmful discussions can also damage our relationships.
Material boundaries are standards you set for your possessions such as your house, car, clothes, jewelry, and even money. Setting standards and limits on how your material items are treated is healthy and prevents resentment in relationships. Material boundaries when set and violated might look like wearing shoes in a house after you saw the no-shoe rule posted.
It’s been said that time is our most valuable asset as it’s never promised, always ticking away, and often times we are trading it for things that don’t fulfill us in the end. Mostly in America, we are trading it for dollars. This sets us up to live for the weekend, lose sight of our vision for our life and deplete ourselves. This is an area that people don’t focus on when setting boundaries.
Setting time boundaries requires your knowledge of your top priorities and setting a commitment to not overcommitting to things outside of your unique priorities. This means you will limit the time you offer to others. If you’re asked to do something that fits your priorities but not your schedule your response can be “I would love to, but I would be overcommitting myself today. Is there another time that we can find to make this happen?”
For a professional boundary that requires you to provide your expertise and time, you can say something like, “I’m happy to help you, here is my rate for that type of consultation. You can follow that sentence by times that fit your priority schedule.” You create unhealthy relationships by violating time boundaries as well.
Some examples would be asking for professional services without offering compensation. Showing up late or not showing at all to a meeting time. If you believe it’s ok to keep others waiting you’re suggesting that both your time and their time are not respected. Time boundaries are also violated when we get contacted on off-hours or vacation time or when we do that to others. Time off should be respected and oftentimes is not in this culture. Reminding your colleagues or partners of business hours helps you enjoy your free time and keep to your priorities.
Setting emotional boundaries means choosing how much energy you are sharing with others, what information you feel safe sharing based on previous interactions. This is also a boundary you set with others as the receiver of others’ emotional baggage.
Healthy emotional boundaries when you’re setting them for yourself sound like “I can’t talk about that in this setting but I’d be open to discussing it later.” Healthy emotional boundaries that you are respecting of others might be violated if you don’t listen to hear them out or if you criticize or ask them to justify their feelings. Feelings come and go but boundary-crossing can leave scars and if you allow someone to trample your feelings you can be sure they will cross the divide again. If you don’t allow someone to feel in front of you, you are depriving them of a safe landing.
Negative reactions to boundary setting:
Let’s be honest here, the only reason we don’t set boundaries is that we are afraid of the repercussions that our request might be met with. So, it’s fear of an outcome that is unpleasant. Right?
But it is not your business to manage someone’s reaction to your boundary. I’ll repeat, it’s not your job and not your business.
The best way to prepare for this is to expect an emotional reaction. Setting a boundary for the first time might lead to people feeling upset. They’re probably going to take it personally because they’re so used to getting their way with you. They might even think you’re holding a grudge against them or having a shitty day, or something is wrong with you when all you’re doing is setting a healthy boundary for yourself.
In fact, I set a boundary the other day when a person that had repeatedly taken advantage of my time asked to “connect” with me and I said “I’m not interested in connecting but I wish you the best in your new endeavor” and that was just an honest statement. Not a dig, not a criticism, or written in a way that would lead the person to take it personally. It was just me saying no and they aren’t used to that. They replied with hurt feelings and expectations and explanations of all their reasonings for wanting my attention. This pulled at an earlier version of myself that felt bad that they felt hurt but then I remembered why I said no. I said no because I won’t be taken for granted, taken advantage of, or manipulated to feel bad about my desire to say no.
If you know a reaction is coming, it’s easier to just let the reaction come. Their emotional reaction is theirs, it’s not yours to manage. I like to visualize them finding a healthy solution after the person negatively reacts so the people-pleaser in me doesn’t get triggered emotionally. It’s their journey, may they align with someone that is excited to work with them. Hold your boundary and move on. The fact is most boundaries are simply you putting yourself first.
“You are responsible for the energy you bring and for the energy you surround yourself with..”
Ultimately healthy boundaries can serve to establish one’s identity. Specifically, healthy boundaries can help people define their individuality and can help people indicate what they will and will not hold themselves responsible for. Who they will or will not allow in their lives. What behavior is unacceptable and what they will not enable in their own life. Healthy boundary setters see right through manipulation, abusive cycles, and often are cycle breakers.
How to choose boundaries over burnout
Let’s look at burnout.. essentially poor boundaries lead to resentment, anger, and burnout.
“By definition, burnout is a condition experienced by workers and other professionals, in which they develop depression-like symptoms as a result of aspects of their role. Burnout may manifest as showing signs of physical, mental and/or emotional exhaustion as a result of stress-related to their job or workplace.”
Burnout is when you give past the point of comfort and now you’re in pain. Essentially you’re giving even though it’s hurting you. Autonomy is an important part of self-care.
The 5 most common personalities to experience burnout are-
- People pleasers- people who want everyone to be happy even if at the detriment to themselves.
- M- Perfectionists- Perfectionistic tendencies; nothing is ever good enough so I’ll settle for not getting what I want. What I want is impossible. Nobody is as kind/good/giving as me. (Fill in the blank).
- Z- Pessimists- Pessimistic view of yourself and the world. Undeserving, unloved, I could never count on someone to respect me.
- M- Control freaks- The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others. If I give up control it won’t get done so I’ll sacrifice myself to this job/task/role- fill in the blank.
- Z- Overachievers or high achievers, also known as Type A personality.
Question of the week:
Now that you’re empowered by all of this information we have the question of the week. What’s a healthy boundary you know you need to set so you don’t burn out?
Part of self-love is saying no to things that don’t serve you anymore. We are going to end this show with 4 more questions to journal out as you come up with a healthy boundary.
- If you need to say yes to something that goes against your boundary, ask yourself why?
- What personal needs are you serving by allowing this person to take advantage and trample your boundaries? Is it significance, love, connection, variety, stability, or contribution?
- When you look at the emotional guidance scale, what emotion are you serving when you set a healthy boundary?
- How do you feel about yourself when you don’t set a healthy boundary?
Use this podcast to set healthy boundaries with everyone including parents, children, romantic partners, bosses, coworkers, and anyone who interacts with or has power over anyone else.
We hope this gives you some inspiration to rise into your power and stop giving it away to people who don’t deserve it. Burnout is rough.. don’t be a burnout, be a badass version of yourself. One that you feel good about when you look in the mirror.
We love you!