Stop Dropping Bombs on Luxembourg

Last week I hosted a webinar training on setting and maintaining healthy boundaries for all the owners in a franchise.

If you were to ask some people in my life if I should be teaching about how to set and maintain healthy boundaries they may get a hearty laugh. There are plenty of folks in my life who over the years have experienced me having mushy, malleable boundaries. 

And there are a special few who have experienced the technique my therapist lovingly refers to as me “dropping a bomb on Luxembourg.” That’s the thing I do after not speaking up for my needs for too long and then suddenly becoming quite hard and harsh with the unsuspecting offender of my not-known-to-them boundaries.

But as I told the folks on this webinar, what qualifies me to teach about setting and maintaining healthy boundaries isn’t that I’m naturally great at it. It’s that, as an empathic people-pleaser, I used to be so flamingly awful at it and now I’m pretty damn decent at it a good amount of time, so my learning about boundaries has been experiential and my understanding embodied.

Here’s the thing I’ve come to understand about boundaries that makes them so profoundly difficult: setting a boundary means you have to you use your own experience to gauge what you think you get to need or get to ask for.

Read that again.

Rather than choosing what you get to ask for based on how you anticipate the other person will respond, setting a boundary means you ask for something based on your own experience. Which means you have to validate your own experience, not require someone else to.

I’ll give you an everyday ordinary example: if it’s important to you that you pick up your kid from school in the afternoon, it means you have to act as if it’s important and ask others to understand that even if they don’t agree with you. You have to cut the conversation with your long-winded neighbor or coworker short so you can leave on time. You have to organize your afternoon schedule to give yourself a big enough window to get to their school without driving like a crazed person. You have to pull yourself away from the relentless to-do’s and affirm to yourself that picking up your kid is important even if the person on the other side of that email or phone call has to wait an extra hour.

It comes down to self-validating, which has everything to do with self-worth. Which isn’t something you can just decide to suddenly have. 

Except it kind of is. 

You can decide to act as if you have self-worth, in tiny ways, over and over. Not in the fake it ’til you make it kind of way, but in the practice it ’til you embody it kind of way.

So here’s your challenge: choose a boundary with yourself. Something like I want to get to bed by 10 every night this week. Or I want to workout 3 times this week. Or I want to limit myself to 10 minutes of instagram a day. 

Practice behaving as if this is important to you. Which is to say, validate that it’s important to you by keeping your word to yourself. 

Not only will you get the benefits of the things you want (more sleep, more exercise, less screen time), you will get the real-deal benefit: a healthy injection of self-worth and self-trust. 

And the cool thing about self-worth and self-trust? It grows quickly with just a little watering. And it changes all the games.

What word are you going to keep to yourself this week? (You are worth getting to want this!)

Jay Fields