Personal Growth

Boundaries: why are they so important?


This morning I had a quick chat with a colleague that was leaving the company for what I think was another job. When I asked her where was she going she simply answered that she didn’t had anything yet but that she was going to take her time to find the ‘right fit’. That sometimes you just need to find what feels right for you. This person has worked with us for a bit less than two months and her very honest and respectful answer made me think about what we all should be considering as the ‘right fit’.

Over the years my standards and my concept of a what one would consider the’ right fit’ have dramatically changed. These days I am at a much better position (in my head) than I was a couple of years ago when my priorities about what the ‘right fit’ could be were a bit more fuzzy.

I would usually stress to find a job in my area of expertise leaving the selection process to the companies. It was an approach a bit naive.  Last year after working for two of the worst companies (startups) that I have worked for I decided to be more careful and to use interviews to, why not? interview back. Yes, I know it is not the usual thing especially because when you start you are eager to simply get experience. But after you get some experience, it is wise to really think where are you getting into. These days I see probation period as a safe heaven to really see if what was promised is indeed delivered and if we are a good fit. We all should do that, really. Because there are bad situations that we can get into by accepting unreasonable work conditions that will be more expensive to pay mentally (in mental heath) than if you simply leave and look for something else. It is true that we all need money to pay the bills, etc…but when the work is too toxic, I honestly prefer to work in a coffee shop in between gigs than to stay somewhere where it does not feel right and suffer the consequences of neglecting my own self-esteem.

set firm boundaries

Some of the things that I learned working for these horrendous companies were the following:

  • You need to think about what you are willing to accept and what you won’t accept
  • When you make up your mind about these boundaries, you must communicate these boundaries to the relevant person that is not respecting them, superior, HR.
  • You have to admit that you don’t have control about others people’s reactions to your boundaries.
  • You don’t have to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with and you can always walk away.

I admire people like this woman at work that believes in herself and bets on her success no matter what. I recently had to set quite a strong boundary myself, with all the risks that accompany to do something like that. But at the end you can only control what you do and how you treat yourself. I am  definitely learning to let go to the need to control an outcome and to embrace that whatever must happen it will be for the best and to welcome that change.

In Ireland there are many companies that do not respect personal boundaries and people deal with this the best they can. I do value my own free time and I do not feel guilty to admit this. I think we all need to be more than just employees and if that is what makes someone’s happy, good for that person but we are not all the same. Even the most ambitious types will succumb to burnout eventually if they are not careful balancing their professionals and personal lives.

There are also other companies that even though they respect more the personal boundaries of their employees, they have no structure at all, as in the case of many small companies. And without structure, there is nothing to hold onto.

There are more and more articles these days that are showing that the fancy office perks do not ultimately make for employee happiness as this has more to do with respect for their own working styles and personal boundaries. Promotion, bonuses and good performance indicators help people to feel valued when they work hard more than a Pizza Friday.

So here are some tips to set healthier boundaries in all areas of your life:

1. Say NO 

If you find yourself doing things to please others, acting out of guilt, bottling up your feelings if someone makes you angry or upset then you need to think about the need to  put yourself first for your own mental health. I am a ‘Yes’ woman ‘ in recovery and I know it is hard, but  you shouldn’t say “Yes” all the time to others when you haven’t taken the time to take care of our own needs first.  This type of behaviour will only drain us  affecting our overall happiness.  It is nice to take charge in a different way and instead of feeling angry or victimised feeling a bit ackward (only at the beginning) because you are actually saying what you feel and setting a boundary.

2. Break bad habits

These are  unhealthy relationships or situation that we used to accept that are not in line with what we want fro life, Whether it is a bad job or bad colleague or toxic people, once you actually see this pattern and how you play into it, it can’t be unseen. . This is the moment when you can start making good changes and breaking this bad old habits.

follow your passion

3. Face the real fear  behind ‘the excuses you tell yourself”

I would tell myself, well, it is not so bad. If only I wait this many months..bla bla bla.  At the end the solution is really simply expressing your needs and letting other people deal with it as they please. Valuing the need to be accepted by others over your own needs will never make you happy, as you’re trying to control something that is really out of your control. You are ‘YOU’ and some people will accept you, some other won’t and it is really not in our control.  For me it was important to let go of that need to control the impression I gave to others and the need to always please.

4. Don’t let fear control your actions.

Whatever decision you make in life make sure that fear is not behind as the result of these decisions are usually awful An example would be: I am not applying to that job as I don’t want to be rejected or I am afraid I will get it and have to move, and so on.

5.  Act on your new beliefs with courage

Saying “No” or being honest if somebody upsets  you is difficult but acting against your fears  and expressing yourself openly will help you to find ‘your place’ in the world. Those who can’t accept your boundaries are clearly nor right for you and  it would be way worst to fail to notice this as it will lead to more negative relationships and experiences.

 6. Sometimes it is simply better to let go

As we learn to let you of the need to control, we realise that some things are simply not meant to keep the same.

Let me know if you have experienced something in the past or are going through that now in the comments below and share this post if you liked it as it helps a lot!


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