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Setting Boundaries – Part Two

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Girl looking upwards to sky praying

Daring to set boundaries


In my previous post, I mentioned that the first step in setting up boundaries is to know and understand oneself and then determine your boundaries and how you will maintain them.

In this post, I am sharing 3 more steps to ensure effective boundaries.

Finding the middle path on the boundary spectrum


As human beings, we can go to two extremes in boundary setting. We can elect not to set up any boundaries at all thus allowing people to treat us the way they want.  This impacts our sense of self-esteem internalizing our feelings which when they finally hit the surface can be volcanic and aggressive to the extent that the other person may not recognize us. Think of a pressure cooker which lets off steam.On the other hand, we may become so rigid in our boundaries that we don’t allow people to come near us and refuse to change.

Ideally, we should set up boundaries that are fluid and flexible to match the need of the situation and the people we are dealing with.

Our personal boundaries may change over time so a rule of thumb is to be adaptable but firm on matters of self esteem and principle.


Emotionally Intelligent People know how to maintain boundaries

I keep seeing instances of people, clients and myself asserting ourselves by maintaining our boundaries.

A client of mine mentioned how the latest corporate policy of idea brainstorming was getting out of hand when a couple of colleagues gave her a ton of ideas and then followed up thinking they would be done expecting her to do the required corporate protocol.

They gave the idea but were not willing to take on ownership or be drivers for the idea.

My client is seen as a friendly approachable person but this time put her foot down when the idea givers thought she should put aside her work to follow through their suggestions.

She asked me if she had been too rude to tell them that there were corporate procedures and how their suggestions were not top of priority for her.

Here’s my take. I think she handled it properly.

Giving ideas or pointing out problems is good. Volunteering to help with the additional work or suggesting a solution is even better.

That’s what emotionally intelligent people do.

Emotionally intelligent people ALSO maintain boundaries.


Karmic Ally Coaching 10 Emotional Intelligence Traits


Create your Boundary Statement and honor it

Boundaries can be set up as your principles, policies or rules with which you deal with the world around you. If you have problems setting up boundaries, then the best way is to write them down and look at them from time to time to remind you what boundaries you have set for yourself.

This is the second step to setting up boundaries.

Many years back, I found myself having work related health problems and the beginnings of a strain in my relationship with my family members who had started mentioning that I was treating the home more like a hotel.

To be honest, I was not surprised. I was putting in long hours at work, more often than not because new demands were being made on me, my subordinates or colleagues. None of us were able to complete our work on time and I was often caught in a situation of sitting waiting to complete my task. (This is one of the downsides of working in global organizations where some of your colleagues are coming into work when it is dinner time in your location and you should really be at home.)

When the migraines and fatigue started to kick in, I had to take a call. I could not eat another pizza to save my life and glugging coffee was just not working in my favour. I could not control or influence my colleagues who were equally fatigued but I could control my actions. I had a talk with our supervisor and we worked out a plan for the entire team.

In the meantime, I created my boundary statement when my doctor started to warn me about future health implications of my lifestyle.

I was much younger at the time but feel free to swipe some of the elements to create your boundary statement:

Elements of my boundary statement on floral paper

My Boundary Statement


Communication is a vital key to success

Once you know your boundaries, communicate them to others. This is the third step and an important one because if others don’t know your boundaries, then they will unknowingly keep stepping over them and the purpose of the boundaries is lost.

Communicate the relevant boundary to the relevant person. There is no point telling your family that your weekends are only meant for family and you don’t want to be disturbed by work but it may be relevant to an associate or colleague who calls to vent or expects you to talk of work on a Sunday when it is not an emergency!

Communication can be done in subtle ways as well as explicitly. Do it whichever way works best for you but make sure that the message gets across. Practice this communication and in time it will become a second nature.


Self preservation requires protecting your boundaries

The fourth step is to protect your boundaries. In other words, communicating is not enough; you need to make sure that you make it clear by word and action that you mean business.

Be authentic, demonstrate integrity, be firm and polite and always be true to your word. In other words, your actions should speak louder than your words.

Returning to the boundary of weekends with family, you may choose not to answer your phone on the Sunday or you may take the call but politely say that you are busy with your family and inquire if the reason for the call is urgent.  Complete the call in less than 5 minutes. The message will get through loud and clear.

There are other ways that you can help yourself and regain a balanced life. Each idea reinforces the concept of boundaries.


To Sum up

Enforcing boundaries you’re not used to enforcing is often not very easy. It is human nature to seek the approval of others but when it encroaches on your life and you lose control of your time, then surely practicing the protection of boundaries is a worthwhile and valuable effort.

Boundary setting and enforcing is an important skill required to be assertive and manage your time effectively. As with all skills, practice makes perfect.

Which steps will you take to reinforce your personal boundaries? Do you have any other recommendations or suggestions for creating effective boundaries? Please share in the comments box below.


Written By: Vatsala Shukla

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14 Responses to “Setting Boundaries – Part Two”

  1. Lisa says:

    Great post! Love it! At work I am constantly reminding others to use boundaries, as they are such an important thing to do. We need down time for ourselves and if we dont create that space it can lead to consequences as you know. The idea of a boundary statement is awesome. I’m going to do one now.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Glad you liked the idea of a Boundary Statement, Lisa. Do share yours with us when you complete it.

  2. A most comprehensive article on setting boundaries. Often we are not conscious that they are needed in families, between friends, at work & now online. I did struggle to recognize others boundaries and then respect them, but I have it handled.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Respecting other peoples boundaries is the flip side of the coin when it comes to establishing and maintaining one’s own. Looks like you’ve nailed yours, Roslyn. Well done!

  3. Sarah says:

    This is a topic that has long fascinated me; I think boundaries are a challenge for so many of us. I know I’ve veered at times between both of the extremes you outlined at the start, and couldn’t agree more that this is about finding the middle path. Thank you for your insightful article – and advice – on this important topic.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      You are most welcome, Sarah. More power to your resolve to walk the middle path with your personal boundaries.

  4. This is a great topic and one that many of us are challenged by for various reasons. I am someone who always wants to help others, especially when it comes to health and wellbeing, as that is an area that I have lots and lots of experience in unfortunately, having had a very rocky journey back to health so many times in my life.

    I still am not sure if I really am good at keeping the boundaries I set, as I am still a softy and find it does impact my stress levels when I have too much on my plate at one time. It is something I am aware of and am working on, as my health and well being are key to me now and having to say “no” sometimes is okay. The interesting thing is I have set myself up as the one who is “good at doing this”, whatever that happens to be, so it is difficult for people not to ask me and expect me to say yes. I am learning and it certainly does make a difference. I really like your manifesto, as it sounds clear in its boundaries and hopefully is easy to stay true to as well, Vatsala. I’ve always done what is best for me, so that one is a given in my life. Enjoyed your post and how you share your experiences with others!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      More power to you and your resolve to stay true to your personal boundaries, Beverley. In my experience, it is easy to slip off this particular wagon and it is a lifelong journey. Sometimes when we say yes to others and help them to deal with a situation that we ourselves are dealing with, it helps us to strengthen our own resolve to stay on track. Keep being you, Beverley. You are awesome!

  5. Paula says:

    This is really a great article with so many great points. Thank you so much for sharing it. I have recently had to learn how to set boundaries and say no due to health reasons as well. A wonderful reminder!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Welcome to The Karmic Ally Coaching Experience Blog, Paula. More often than not, health reasons are the turning point when we finally set up personal boundaries as the self-preservation instinct becomes stronger and difficult to ignore. I suggest you create your own Boundary Statement in your own handwriting and keep it in a place where you will see it and remember who comes first. Thank you for your kind comments.

  6. Oh my! Vatsala, the idea of a boundary statement never occurred to me and it’s so awesome! I do have my full list of goals written down, my top 3 goals written down, top ideas etc etc.

    Your boundary statement is absolutely fantastic and it’s a great example. Having this written down is very powerful.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thanks Delia! Writing statements of intention, goals, gratitude and my favorite To Do Lists keep me on track. The Boundary Statement came about as a challenge at the time when my family told me that I kept saying things but would I do it? That was the beginning of finally asserting myself. 🙂 The statement keeps changing as I change as a person but it always reflects my core values and principles which makes it easier to stick to.

  7. K. Lee Banks says:

    Thank you for sharing this – it’s excellent advice! I really like your “Boundary Statement” – great idea!

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you! I love the Boundary Statement as a reminder of the limits that I set for others to stay assertive.

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I believe the world would be a better place if high achieving professionals accepted setbacks and challenges to their careers as Wake Up Calls to embark on a Journey where their empowered course correcting actions create a New World Order that encompasses achieving their career aspirations & potential with authentic life balance.

I work with driven, passionate, talented and ambitious professionals who’ve hit a speed breaker in their business or career create their desired breakthrough reclaiming control of their situation with customized strategies and tactics that deliver results.

When my clients first reach out to me, they are not in a very happy place, needing clarity about themselves, their desires, chosen vocation and what will give them peace of mind. They are drawn to me for the very reasons that I highlight in Who Is Karmic Ally Coaching.

Their professional problems are playing havoc with other areas of their life. They know they need to take radical steps to change the status quo but they also know they need support and accountability to get them their desired result.

I really get it, because I’ve experienced that dark night of the Soul. I know firsthand the outcome of getting lost in my work rationalizing decisions that were detrimental to other aspects of my life.

I’ve struggled with and won battles of stress management, corporate politics, life balance and career decisions to emerge in a place where I can confidently say that I live my desired life according to my personal Manifesto and have created a business that provides me with a platform for my desired lifestyle and self-expression for myself. I want that for you too!

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1st place BCB 2012
Email: Vatsala(at)karmicallycoaching(dot)com Phone:91 9818517664
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