with The -C- Coach.
Introducing the fourth wellbeing pillar:
Hi there people passionate about happiness!
Welcome to our fourth pillar - Boundaries. For the next two weeks, you’ll have an opportunity to work on your communication within the sphere of personal boundaries to enhance your sense of empowerment, self-control, and overall wellbeing.
So let’s take a look at the results* of the Boundaries survey. It's evident our community is struggling with setting and honouring our needs and limits – the invisible boundaries that determine how we live our lives and who we truly are.
The challenge to communicate our needs, desires, values, and beliefs spans across different aspects of our lives, including work, friends, and family. We are a community of people-pleasers and so it follows that the majority of those around you appease you to avoid feeling guilty, or, are just not brave enough to disagree and feel uncomfortable in doing so. We are passively supporting each other’s personal brand, needs, and beliefs by not communicating our own truth, or saying the dreaded three words - yes.
*Results are a snapshot as of 26-May-23 at 11:00 CET
Do you feel confident about managing boundaries at work or in your personal life?
We are not a confident community with only 21.05% of us able to honour our boundaries. This means 4 out of 5 people are failing to activate their sense of agency and autonomy due to the inability to set and maintain boundaries. With 42.11% finding it hard to say no - which means they’re saying yes to things they don’t want to - we are self-sabotaging our purpose and strength to follow through on what’s important to us.
The irony here is we lack the confidence to manage our boundaries - but by implementing personal boundaries more effectively we would boost our own self-confidence to repeat it in the future! So the key is to feel uncomfortable within the unfamiliarity of implementing boundaries until consistency creates familiarity and norm.
Do you feel confident saying no to things you don’t want to do?
Fellow HROI community members are feeling the pressure to say yes - nearly 70% of us. Where is this pressure coming from? Are we living in FOMO? Are we living in fear of looking weak or not good enough if we say no? Are we culturally so accustomed to serving the needs of others that prioritising ourselves means we have to feel selfish?
I hear you and understand the overwhelming desire to do what feels easy - just say yes, but know this - every time you say yes you’re not promoting healthy and sustainable relationships in your life. By saying no, you promote empathy, compassion, and mutual respect. People might not like you - but they will respect you honouring your needs and limits and might even feel inspired to do the same.
What’s the type of boundary you struggle with the most?
The majority of our community, 38.89%, struggle to communicate with people and set boundaries in an area I refer to as your personal brand - your beliefs, opinions, and your needs, which are all values based and therefore a part of your personal identity. Have you ever noticed you feel a physiological reaction when someone’s beliefs or opinions don’t align with your values? Ever feel or react defensively? It’s because your brain registers it as a threat - so you’re in fight, flight, or freeze mode in response.
Failing to communicate your boundaries impacts your self-worth. It leads to learned helplessness, needing external validation, and builds fear of rejection. This connects to the 30.56% of us who can’t set boundaries with those close to us. Most likely we are assuming that they should understand us, our needs, and our desires. This doesn’t foster a healthy relationship based on trust and safety, ultimately putting us in a position of being a victim, rather than owning and honouring our boundaries and being clear on our limits.
The -C- Coach advice column.
The -C- Coach is responding to the stories you have submitted. For each wellbeing pillar, we're choosing one of your stories and sharing guidance on how you can incorporate positive changes in your life.
Dear The -C- Coach,
"I want to improve the way I communicate with people when they overstep my personal boundaries ... I find myself in paralysis mode. I can't tell people how I'm feeling in the moment when they say things to me which I feel are really inappropriate or rude to me. This is quite common with my family. I don't want to hurt anyone but I find that swallowing my voice constantly, so I feel shut down and it means no one knows how I'm feeling or what's important to me. I don't know why I just freeze! I get so frustrated with myself after it happens. Sometimes when the same conversation comes up with the same person or even someone else, I might actually explode as well. So it's either not saying the things I want or just a completely crazy response. Please help me find a way to communicate better."
- Luis, 31, Start-up entrepreneur
Hi there Luis,
Firstly thank you for sharing a vulnerability publicly with our community in this space. I can understand it feels debilitating to be in a position where you can’t communicate your needs, values, desires or limits. You’re not alone! Truly. Effective communication in person is one of the hardest aspects of being a human and interacting with others right now. It might sound strange to say this, but we in an era of a global digital community overworked, overwhelmed by information on a daily basis and tired - so communicating our needs doesn’t come so naturally to us anymore as a species… there’s so many places to hide! It’s true that this has impacted other areas of our human interactions like the deterioration of sex in relationships - but that’s for another newsletter!
I say this, so you know you’re not alone. It would be fair to say that all my clients share your reaction - and I say reaction because it’s filled with emotion - you blow up like a volcano when certain conversations are repeated with you! This is a natural reaction when we feel under threat. Essentially what’s happening is you feel like you’re being attacked, and your brain is registering a threat to you; this is particularly relevant in regards to where it concerns your values, beliefs, opinions, or anything that makes up your personal brand.
When your personal boundaries are crossed, it directly impacts how you feel; like trust, safety, and connection with the other party/parties involved. It feels even harder for us to communicate with our family because it’s more emotional for us - they mean more to us, so if we get it wrong, we potentially have more to lose. Your paralytic response is your brain ensuring your survival - it’s safer not to communicate how you truly feel if this causes further harm. However, you’re left feeling increasingly frustrated with yourself, and the other person!
The key to effective communication of your personal boundaries is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and start to do it. Right now it's alien to you but once you do it over and over, it will get easier and it will feel more like a natural response, based on rational process and reasoning rather than an emotional reaction - like your volcano.
A rational response sits in a different part of our brain, so it’s important to tap into what it needs to support you to effectively communicate. Follow my guide below and…
Practice-practice-practice!!! Sit in front of a mirror and allow your brain and your body to familiarise yourself with your choice of words, your body language, and your delivery. It’s the best way to move from paralysis to effective communication.
Give yourself more time to respond: Buy yourself some time with one deep breath in and out. This will give you some valuable seconds to compose a response and process an emotional and/or physiological reaction to the situation. Try nodding if you need to fill in the gap. If it’s not a breath – what works for you? Find something you can consistently leverage by bringing focus to something. E.g., rub the tip of your middle finger with your thumb, nod three times, and/or ‘hmmm’ to fill in the gap.
If you need more time before you can respond- say it! Sometimes it’s necessary for us to respond in a considerate way so prepare one statement you can use repeatedly to buy extra time: e.g., “I can see that’s important for you, but I need some more time to consider”, b) “I don’t feel like I can answer that right now, let me come back to you”.
SMILE! Bring a soft smile before you respond. This automatically sends signals of serotonin to your brain and it changes the tone of your response. It also helps you to stay calm. Try it. Say something that might be opposing in nature and notice how it sounds and looks when you smile. Try not to be overly smiley because this can come across as disrespectful or even passive-aggressive.
Neutralise your tone knowing that 90% of our communication is about tone and 10% is about content. Delivering in a neutral tone is received confidently and you sound more assured to the person receiving it.
Lower the volume so your response is from a place of control and doesn’t come across as aggressive.
Communicate clearly and concisely so that it’s obvious what your decision or statement is so there’s no room for interpretation. When delivered clearly with assurance - people are more likely to respect your decision (even if they don’t like it).
Communicate with confidence and respect which is you being assertive, backed up with a clear decision, and not about you being aggressive or closing someone down in a judgemental or harsh way. (Refer to my Boundaries video Part 2 for more guidance here).
Say thank you if it’s appropriate. This needs to be applied to the situation. If there’s an opportunity to thank someone for them sharing something or asking you to do something, you can say thank you before you oppose their position. This is even where you don’t agree with them. Try framing a thank you in a situation that is frustrating for you, notice what you observe.
THEN - follow it with an “I” statement to make it about your needs, rather than “You” which puts you into attack mode.
“Thank you for sharing your view that you feel I’m destroying my success and career path, however, I would appreciate it if you could support my decision to become a Coach because that’s much more helpful to me.” (Yes, Luis, this is from my own family experience going from Corporate Director to Coach!)
Share your disappointment and sadness. This can be a powerful psychological tactic if the scenario results in someone being disrespectful to you, showing anger or frustration, sharing abusive or unfair comments, or someone is really overstepping your personal boundaries in some way. By saying the words, “I’m disappointed that…I’m sad that…” it reframes the context, diffuses tension, and positions you to be in control, not a victim being walked all over.
Try using “I need” in your communication. If you can integrate a sentence into the conversation that starts with I need, it immediately supports you to communicate what you want and need - even at that moment, or whether it comes from deeply set values or beliefs.
Remember: PRACTICE! Talk to yourself in the mirror, and write it down. Schedule some time right now to communicate your personal boundaries with a loved one, someone at work, etc. And remember practicing equals being prepared, and when we are prepared, we are less emotional in our reaction and more rational in our response.
Next week we start to close our Happiness journey with our final pillar Joy! This will run only for one week before wrapping up in the final week.
Share your story with The -C- Coach!
We want to know the real, human stories behind the statistics and learn about the types of changes that people in our community need to make the most.
As part of the Happiness ROI Programme, we'll be sharing extra tools, guidance, and tips – all backed by brain science – with some of the stories we receive.
Fill out the form and tell us what change(s) you want to make in your life.
Consider recent overall happiness, including your personal and professional life, your relationships, and emotional state.
You've got this.
Visit the Boundaries wellbeing pillar here in the Happiness ROI programme and navigate through your toolkit:
Listen to the Boundaries Empowerment meditation and give yourself confidence and compassion to honour your boundaries.
Watch all 3 videos to power up your ‘i’ statements to support effective communication of your boundaries in a confident and assertive way.
Act. Follow my guidance to define your boundaries in 3 clear boxes and support yourself to define your lifestyle, say no, and practice positive and clear communication.
Learn. Read the science behind why it’s important to implement boundaries across all areas of our life and support a healthy relationship with self and others.
Nourish yourself with a recipe to support your body and brain functioning and boost your energy!
Remember, please contact me any time if you need further support or guidance on the Happiness ROI Programme.
With heart and integrity,
Mehibe, The -C- Coach.
Discover your free wellbeing toolkits.
Over ten weeks, The -C- Coach will be supporting you with expert guidance based on five wellbeing pillars. Every two weeks you can discover your new free toolkit with audios, videos, resources, and exercises to help you to explore and integrate sustainable habits into your daily routine for each wellbeing pillar.
You don't have to do this alone.
Please feel free to contact The -C- Coach directly at any time if you need further support or guidance on the Happiness ROI Programme.
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