It happened again! The boss asked you to stay late and prepare a last-minute presentation, when you had planned to go home and work on your business. You feel sick to your stomach, resentful, and despair about your ability to make your business work.
Or how about this one: You are working at your business, and you are in the flow and feel very productive. But people keep interrupting you. It could be a new associate, calling you frequently at all hours. Closer to home, it could be your child, husband/wife, parent, partner, or some type of relative.
Someone gets credit for your work. Someone goes through your personal workspace or your desk at home. Somebody steals your leads or customers. Someone eats your food. Someone touches you without asking, and you feel very uncomfortable but don't say anything. All of these are examples of ways your boundaries can be violated.
Anger is a common tip-off to boundary violations. Perhaps you get angry and yell at others to leave you alone, only to feel remorse later on. This kind of behavior will drive away potential colleagues and customers. You can have other feelings, too, such as fear, resentment, disgust, shame, or pain. Start allowing yourself to become aware of what you are feeling; the feelings you are experiencing are very good clues to what is going on. Ask yourself, "Why am I feeling this way? What just happened before the feeling? Who or what does this person or situation remind me of?"
I'm sure you're familiar with the common use of the word boundary as the dividing line between one thing and another. You automatically think of national boundaries or city boundaries. Did you know that people have boundaries, too?
* We have a physical boundary, our skin.
* We have an interpersonal boundary, which is how comfortable we are with the physical distance between ourselves and another. Some people are comfortable standing closer to people than others can tolerate.
* We have an emotional boundary. Which feelings are yours, and which ones are you picking up from the people around you? I am sure you have had the experience of confidently walking into a room and the tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife.
* We have many other boundaries, including intellectual boundaries, spiritual boundaries, sexual boundaries, and financial boundaries, to name a few.
Pia Mellody, in her book "Facing Codependence," names five different ways we can experience our boundaries.
1. Intact boundaries. They are flexible, allowing some things in as well as providing protection from others. It is like a cell wall: a "semi-permeable membrane," allowing for traffic across the membrane of the cell's own choosing.
2. Nonexistent boundaries. We didn't know we could have them and we didn't learn how to set them. That makes us vulnerable to whatever assault comes our way.
3. Damaged boundaries. At certain times, with certain people, we can say "no" and set boundaries, and at other times with other people we can't.
4. Walls instead of boundaries. After being hurt repeatedly, we can put up walls of silence, words, anger, or fear to protect ourselves. But it's awfully lonely in there, and we can't effectively connect with people to do business from behind a wall.
5. Moving from nonexistent boundaries to walls and back again. This happens when we spread our wings to take a risk to come out from behind the wall. A painful result sends us scurrying back behind the wall. As we practice and gain confidence in our boundary-setting ability, this boundary will eventually evolve into an intact boundary.
In summary, learning how to set boundaries is a crucial skill for new entrepreneurs to learn. Let's face it, starting a business and developing the skills necessary to sustain its growth takes energy. You don't have the energy to waste on people who aren't going to buy your product or service, those with ulterior motives, or needy time sapping associates. It's time to give up your childhood socialization to always be "nice." Heresy, I know, but it's time to let others be responsible for their own feelings so you can build your business. You can choose to be firm and matter-of-fact rather than abrasive in setting boundaries. Gaining success in setting them is an exhilarating aspect of the personal growth entrepreneurs must experience to succeed in business. Here's to your success!
About the author: Suzanne Thomas was a psychiatric nurse for 28 years. She discovered that the skills she learned in the mental health field came in quite handy in dealing with people, adding to the success of her direct sales and internet marketing business which she is building at www.ccpnetsuccess.com. Copyright 2008 Suzanne Thomas