The other day, I noticed a nagging sense of frustration and anger simmering within me over a situation that just wasn’t getting resolved. Here’s what happened: I was told that I would receive something I needed to complete a project. I waited and waited for it to happen and it didn’t. When I followed up, I was told I needed to pay more to get it. I was angry and yet in my mind wondered if I had heard wrong in the first place. I began to justify that it was a lot to ask for so I said I’d be willing to pay for it to help it move along. Even after I communicated that I’d be willing to pay, there was still no movement to get what I needed. I was becoming more and more frustrated and wanted to let others know that this company was not one that kept its word. I felt powerless and unheard.
I also noticed that I was second-guessing why I didn’t clarify earlier what I would receive and then convinced myself that I was expected too much and didn’t deserve to get what I needed. I wrote an angry email in a heated moment, which, luckily, I didn’t send! Instead, I stepped back and 𝒈𝒐𝒕 𝒄𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒓 𝒐𝒏 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑰 𝒏𝒆𝒆𝒅𝒆𝒅 and rewrote the email stating my expectations and the date that I needed this to be resolved.
𝑴𝒚 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒐𝒏𝒈 𝒅𝒆𝒄𝒍𝒂𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒘𝒏𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒑 𝒐𝒇 𝒎𝒚 𝒓𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒔 𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒊𝒂𝒍𝒐𝒈𝒖𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝑰 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒈𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒏 𝒘𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑰 𝒏𝒆𝒆𝒅𝒆𝒅 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒕 𝒆𝒙𝒕𝒓𝒂 𝒄𝒐𝒔𝒕
This demonstrated to me 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕡𝕠𝕨𝕖𝕣 𝕚𝕟 𝕤𝕖𝕥𝕥𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕔𝕝𝕖𝕒𝕣 𝕓𝕠𝕦𝕟𝕕𝕒𝕣𝕚𝕖𝕤 and the 𝐫𝐞-𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 I needed to stand up for what I need or want. As women- especially if you are over 50, were raised when the predominant belief was that “children were to be seen and not heard”.
We were accustomed to cooperate, step back, and let others go first. We were told, directly or indirectly, not to make waves or upset others – especially with family. And when we do speak up for ourselves now, we tend to back down quickly if we get any pushback. 𝑫𝒐𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒔𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒅 𝒇𝒂𝒎𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒂𝒓 𝒕𝒐 𝒚𝒐𝒖?
You may show up as strong and capable, yet the struggles to speak up and hold your ground are quite internalized, which makes you feel alone as you grapple with it.You hide the anger you feel about being treated like you don’t matter by backing down and then self-medicating with food, alcohol, TV or some other form that brings you temporary relief.
When you say yes to something when you want to say no, you get bitter about it and may seek retaliation. What’s actually underneath these beliefs you carry? And how do they get in the way of setting boundaries?
See if some of these barriers resonate with you:
𝔽𝕖𝕒𝕣 𝕠𝕗 𝕣𝕖𝕛𝕖𝕔𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕠𝕣 𝕒𝕓𝕒𝕟𝕕𝕠𝕟𝕞𝕖𝕟𝕥- who am I to say no?
𝔽𝕖𝕒𝕣 𝕠𝕗 𝕔𝕠𝕟𝕗𝕣𝕠𝕟𝕥𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟- if I draw the line, I’ll lose their respect or friendship
𝔾𝕦𝕚𝕝𝕥- If I don’t …who will?
ℕ𝕖𝕖𝕕 𝕥𝕠 𝕡𝕣𝕠𝕧𝕖 𝕤𝕠𝕞𝕖𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕘- going along with something to be included or show that you can do it 𝕁𝕦𝕤𝕥𝕚𝕗𝕚𝕔𝕒𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟- you convince yourself that you are overreacting, that it’s not that bad.
𝔻𝕚𝕤𝕖𝕞𝕡𝕠𝕨𝕖𝕣𝕞𝕖𝕟𝕥- allowing others to make decisions for you-my needs aren’t relevant
𝓝𝓪𝓶𝓮 𝓨𝓸𝓾𝓻 𝓛𝓲𝓶𝓲𝓽𝓼-You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. Identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits. Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed.
𝓜𝓪𝓴𝓮 𝓪 𝓜𝓪𝓷𝓽𝓻𝓪- Brene Brown uses the mantra “Choose discomfort over resentment” to keep her grounded in an awkward moment when she knows she needs to speak her truth and set a boundary. Set one that resonates with you to keep you present and strong.
𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓷𝓮𝓬𝓽 𝔀𝓲𝓽𝓱 𝓨𝓸𝓾𝓻 𝓥𝓸𝓲𝓬𝓮- A common cultural norm for women has been that we should be seen and not heard and that our voices don’t matter. If you have internalized these beliefs, it may be uncomfortable or unnatural for you to make requests or even think that your needs are necessary and valid. Practice speaking out loud to literally get connected to your voice. Try this voice validating mantra while placing a hand over your throat: It’s safe to speak my truth. My voice matters.
𝓑𝓮 𝓓𝓲𝓻𝓮𝓬𝓽- By saying what you mean and meaning what you say, you create a deeper sense of mutual respect. When you identify the need to set a boundary, do it clearly, calmly, firmly, respectfully, and in as few words as possible. Do not justify, get angry, or apologize for the boundary you are setting. You can’t successfully establish a clear boundary if you send mixed messages by apologizing.
𝓢𝓽𝓪𝓷𝓭 𝓕𝓲𝓻𝓶-You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. You are only responsible for communicating your boundary in a respectful manner. If it upset them, know it is their problem. Some people, especially those accustomed to controlling, abusing, or manipulating you, might test you. Plan on it, expect it, but remain firm.
You move from blaming to assertive claiming by practicing these techniques because you are living in more integrity with your own wants and needs. You are defining yourself – how you think, feel, believe and behave and learning to step back and let go when others see it differently.
Remember that you don’t have to be the savior by casting aside what you want to serve someone else’s needs. You are not the only one who can help. As you learn to hold your ground with the boundaries you set, you find a deeper freedom and confidence to take up more space and have a bigger impact on yourself and those around you. 💥
Beth Nelson is an inspiration and leader for women who are ready to awaken into the fullest version of themselves at midlife and leave a meaningful impact on the world. As a Women’s Midlife Mentor, confused and disengaged women in their 50s and 60s hire her to build the necessary confidence to reinvent themselves and create a life full of passion, purpose and authenticity.