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Setting healthy limitations

Most of you have heard the term; setting boundaries.

Because of the complexity of my work, the demand, the emotional and physical toll, I must set limits. Most people would never imagine what I do as being any of the above.

Sessions are draining at times, emotional and tiring. They are rewarding as well as fullfilling. The hours are long and I always give 100%. People matter but we are all very taxing at times, involved in deep emotional situations that need clarity. You may never realize how often a day I am being called, texted and e mailed.

This often happens while I am in a session with another client. People are hurting so they don’t stop to think because they’re emotionally invested in their pain and confusion. It’s very understandable. My greatest joy is to bring healing and clarity. I care very much how others feel. Being empathetic, that plays into my emotional well being.

Limits. In order to be well, I must set limits and boundaries for myself as well as respecting my clients time during a session as my own. Believe it or not, you need to do the same. The many facets of your life, whether personal relationships or job, need structure. We all need down time too or we burn out. This is where I very often encourage others to follow the rule of boundaries.

Remember, if you try to drink from an empty glass, you’ll be thirsty. This applies to your life. ‘No’ as a complete sentence:“No, thank you” or “No, thank you. I won’t be able to.” (Say it, don’t apologize, then SHHHH!)

  1. Vague but firm: “Thank you for asking me, but that is not going to work for me.”

  2. Referral/Delegation:“I won’t be able to, but why don’t you ask Joe? I bet he’ll be able to.”

  3. Last Minute Boundary: “I can’t add anything onto my calendar this month, but the next time you’re planning to go _____, let me know as soon as you can because I would love to go with you.”

  4. It’s Not Personal: “Thank you for thinking of me, but I am not doing any interviews this quarter while I am focusing on starting my new project.”

  5. Showing Gratitude: I’m so touched that you thought of me and I really appreciate your enthusiasm and support. I’m sorry I won’t be able to help out at this time.”

  6. It’s Not Whether, But When: “I would like to, but I am unavailable until August. Could you ask me again closer to that time?” or “None of those dates work for me, but I would love to see you. Send me some more dates.”

  7. Gracious: “I truly appreciate your asking, but my time is already committed.”

  8. Word of Mouth Is the Best Recommendation: “I won’t be able to, but let me recommend someone to you who would be able to help you.”

  9. Someone Else Asked First/Family: “I already told my partner/therapist/coach/etc. that I would not be taking on more at this time. I am working to create a more balanced life.” or “That is the day of my son’s dance recital, and I never miss those.”

  10. Know Thyself: “No. But here is what I can do….” (Then limit the commitment to what works for you.)

  11. Time To Assess: “Let me think about it and I will get back to you.”

  12. Give Others a Chance: “You know, I feel like the accounting department is always organizing the office fundraisers/parties. Let’s ask the Marketing Department to help this year.”

  13. The Pressure Valve: Author Katrina Alcorn shares: “We need a ‘safety word’ for saying no — an easy way to tell people that we can’t/won’t do the thing they are requesting, but that it’s not personal.

  14. A great read is called the book -Maxed Out. ‘I’m maxed out’ and people who are familiar with the book know I’m asking them to respect that I’m taking care of myself, and that I also respect their need to take care of themselves.”

When we don’t have boundaries, we end up risking loosing ourselves. More than we might realize. For example:

  • We dread looking forward to each day as we get out of bed

  • We start to resent others for having needs and with any imbalance in our relationships

  • We start to feel “on edge”, angry and irritable with others, even though we would never, ever, let them know this

  • More and more, we start to have trouble concentrating, we forget things, and generally start to “not care”

  • We start to become unaware of what legitimate boundaries look like

  • We don’t know how to handle someone who is hurt by our boundaries

  • We feel “run over” all the time

  • We start to move from crisis to crisis as we continue to feel out of control

  • We feel a twinge of sadness as we think about what we have to look forward to

  • Our life starts to feel meaningless

  • We feel guilty or afraid when we consider setting boundaries

  • We don’t know how to answer someone who wants our time, love, energy or money

  • Our inability to say no actually makes people less responsible, not more

  • If it goes on for too long, we start to feel nothing

  • When we use our boundaries, we feel selfish.

Theres nothing selfish about taking care of yourself. These tips above and what you may experience from not using them are a great starting point. Take it one day at a time. No one is a pro. In time you will be able to care for yourself and others in a healthy way and those toxic people, no matter who they may be can no longer try to get you to drink from that toxic vile of guilt.

Caring, loving, well balanced people have limits and set boundaries. Love yourself!

With Love,


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This is a great reminder. Like the examples to apply.

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