“True Compassion for Self and Others Means Setting Boundaries”
Welcome to April, we hope this blog finds you somewhat slowing down here in the West as we get ready for the Easter holidays.
Here at Core of Wellbeing we are always finding ways to share information and tips that can improve your wellbeing and have you feeling happier. After our recent Online Parenting Workshop Series, we were asked by many individuals’ how they could set healthy boundaries? We thought that we would write this for them and share with you all as well.

It is part of human nature to want to help others, we are hard wired to notice another’s struggle and want to do something about it, but what about our own struggle or the notion of us being at our best. It seems, that we realise at some point in our lives we are helping others or giving more to others despite ourselves and our own wellbeing. It’s like we start thriving early, with a richness, passion, and energy for life. Then somewhere along the line our energy starts to deplete and then our richness and thriving seems to slowly be stripped away. What we have noticed is this is generally from us not putting boundaries in place to protect some of the beautiful richness of ourselves and it seems we get caught up in “I should” or in people pleasing and the busy treadmill of life and the research supports what we have noticed in our work with individuals. So, what is it we can we do to help care for our richness and energy? We can initially get clear on our values and what’s most important and then it is much easier to create boundaries, as values can be the guiding force or light for our decisions. For example, if my highest value was family, yet I am getting caught up in over working, there will be distance between my behaviour (what I do/action) and my values. It won’t feel good, and we then feel dissonance as we say in psychology, creating anxiety, resentment, and a reduction or stripping away of our very own richness.

Let’s start with this little check in and maybe notice what you might relate to. Are there more times than often that you are opening emails while cooking dinner or promising family time, do you notice you get caught up in the 17-year-old who made a promise to friends to drive them to the party? And you go even though you had something else planned? Or is it your partner who leaves the dishwasher for you to unload when it is their turn to do so? We just seem to get caught up in the doing, not always stopping to think what we might like to do with our time and to meet our values.

Many people believe if they put in boundaries that they aren’t being compassionate, or rude or are simply worried that someone will be disappointed with them? Really? Maybe it’s time to get disappointed with yourselves that maybe you are not being truly authentic to you and allowing yourself to flourish. In 2 years’, time, or 10 years’ time when the richness and energy is at its lowest and burnout has kicked in who will in fact be responsible for this? Not the needy boss, partner, the child, or the teenager, yes you guessed it you and I. What if this moment, the moment you are reading this you decide to write a different narrative? One with both compassion and consideration to your values and the authentic life of flourishing that you can choose to write and live. As according to Brené Brown, boundaries are finding a way to be generous towards others while continuing to lead with integrity and stay true to yourself. Brown spent years studying this area and what she had expected to find was that the underlying thread with compassionate people was a strong spiritual belief.

Instead, what she discovered is that the most compassionate people had “boundaries of steel”, meaning they had a clear set of boundaries in relationships and in life. So this is the foundation, healthy boundaries is being compassionate with others while honouring our own self-care, it is knowing what’s important to us and living our values.

So how do we do this once we have discovered our values? We pre-plan to ensure others know our boundaries. For example, what is important for you, how do you want to imagine the week ahead? If say, you have an important presentation to prepare for and someone asks you to drive them somewhere (say the 17-year-old), you have the script ready- “thank you for asking me, however at late notice I am unable to as I am working on this presentation that’s important for me to do well in, so I am not available at this time, can someone else help?”. Or if a meeting that is planned to finish at a particular time looks to go over the scheduled time and you will miss out on important self-care you simply thank people for their time and let them know you have another arrangement to attend to. Or this with a child, only 2 cookies after dinner. There are times when you can gain something from conceding, but you’ll need to reset the boundary as a part of the next conversation. For example: “I’m happy to do it again for you, this time. How about you unload the dishwasher the next 2 times, or could how about lending me two people on your staff while I do it? I’ll teach them all I know, and then you’ll have the resources for the future.” Or another great response is yes, I can do that task but I am not available until after the presentation is complete. In this way you are not denying but keeping your clear boundary for your wellbeing and to have time to do what you have set out to achieve.

One thing we have also understood from the research on boundary setting is the people who continue to people please and not follow their own values are the unhappy. Therefore, true compassion for self and others means setting boundaries. Sometimes people might feel disappointed with your response, especially if they aren’t used to you setting boundaries. Think of the YOU, you want to be today and how you want to feel into the future.  We hope that you can all keep your richness and beauty so you can continue to share this with others in a healthy balanced way.

Share with us how you have put a healthy boundary in place and if you have anything to share on this topic

Yours in thriving and positivity

Jo and Crystal