We hear about boundaries in terms of saying no to others, standing up for what we want, etc. Doing this work can be so powerful and life changing. But there’s the other half to this equation that we don’t often talk about: how boundary work also includes looking at what we have zero power over.
Maybe it’s because we don’t want to hear what we can’t do, can’t influence, can’t change. Can’t make better or make go away. Where’s the fun in that? But if we don’t carefully discern between what is actually within our power and what is not, we end up not setting boundaries but instead trying to control others and situations. Then, we end up with the frustration of feeling let down, disappointed and giving away all our power. Even worse, they end up feeling managed and not emotionally safe with us.
When you are focused on the other person, you are usually already in trouble by then. By concentrating on what they are saying, doing, not doing, can’t seem to get or don’t follow through on, you are avoiding what is really going on inside of you, which is usually a lot of fear about what will or won’t happen if they don’t change. Alongside the fear is disappointment, anger and/or sadness around what is true. All very valid feelings. Know that the first step to owning your power is allowing yourself to feel the difficult feelings, and sit with the not-so-great reality in front of you. And not try to run from it.
The next step is to focus on the boundaries. What is yours vs what is outside of your realm. Then, what do you want or need to do within your sphere of influence? What do you need to accept? What can you choose today? How can you take better care of your feelings, your needs, your desires? Things within your control, also known as “locus of control,” include:
- Thoughts and attitudes: The way you perceive yourself, others, and the world around you.
- Emotions: Your emotional responses to events and circumstances.
- Behaviors: The choices you make and the actions you take.
- Habits: The recurring patterns of thought and behavior that shape your life.
- Reactions: Your immediate responses to events and stimuli.
- Decisions: The choices you make and the paths you choose to pursue.
- Effort: The energy and effort you invest in your goals and aspirations.
It’s important to recognize that while you have control over these aspects of your life, external factors such as other people, events, and circumstances can impact your experiences and outcomes. Even so, the ONLY place there is power is on the Inside. I encourage you to just experiment a bit this week refocusing on yourself and see how it feels.