“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”
~Brené Brown

I will admit it here. I am still learning about boundaries. Where I start and stop. Where others start and stop. How to tell them apart. How to know what is my responsibility and what isn’t. My default mode is to know that nearly everything, if not everything, is my responsibility. The reality is that that’s not true.

Just about everyone who knows me knows that I believe in love, first and foremost. I believe in being kind and spreading compassion and care, even in the corporate world. And just about everyone who knows me knows that I believe the first person most of us need to learn to love and treat better is ourselves.

I’ve had clients question the message of Brené’s quote. “Really,” they ask me. “Really it can be okay to do something or set boundaries or say no, even if someone is disappointed when I do? Even if that someone is my boss/partner/colleague/etc.?”

“Yes,” I answer. “Even if that someone is your boss/partner/colleague/etc. And, for what it’s worth, I’m teaching you this and doing my best to learn it myself at the same time.”

At this point my clients usually laugh with me, and then we dive into the situation they’re facing and the boundary they’re hoping to set. We think through if they’re setting it too tightly or too leniently. We make sure that the situation isn’t such a crisis that, while they’d love to set a boundary, that’s not actually what’s best for them or anyone else. And we practice saying, “No” or “Not now.” We practice that as often as we need to, and then I remind my client (and myself at times) that even though we practiced, it will most likely feel uncomfortable – or even awful – when they do it.

I remind my client of something I was taught years ago – if you feel guilty doing something, there’s a good chance that that thing is a good thing to do for yourself. Because we may feel guilty when we set boundaries and when we disappoint others. But it often can be the next best Thoughtful step to take in a situation or relationship. It allows us to love ourselves – and others – more.

Even in the corporate world.

What boundaries have you set recently and how has that gone for you?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

If you want to get better at setting appropriate boundaries, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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