Setting our Boundaries

The other day we held a workshop for individuals taking part in our Social Solutions project, which supports coordinators of volunteers at non-profit agencies that work in the areas of homelessness, housing, mental health and addictions.  The workshop was about resetting boundaries and was led by talented facilitator Dvora Levin.

Who among us couldn’t use a reminder to set (or defend) our boundaries now and then?  The workshop came at a very fortuitous time for some participants in particular, but in fact all of us were able to come up with areas of either our personal or professional lives where we could reestablish or reset boundaries. 

But how are we to do it?  Some people are great at setting boundaries and then ‘cave’ when it comes to defending them.  Others aren’t sure how to set boundaries at all, or have many reasons why setting a boundary won’t work in their particular instance.  Levin suggests finding a friend or  colleague to help us reaffirm the boundaries we have created, whether it’s making sure that we take our daily lunch break or sticking to office hours that we have created for drop-in visits from clients or volunteers.  Essentially, we all need to be constantly vigilant about the boundaries that we have created for ourselves at home or work.  You’ve heard the expression, “The only constant is change”?  In this case the only thing we know for sure is that the boundaries we set for ourselves will be tested again and again. 

So, consider this your reminder to take some time to think about the boundaries you may need to reestablish.  It could be that you need to relax your standards, delegate more work, or make sure you leave the office at the end of your shift each day.  Maybe you need to set aside time for goal-setting or reflective thought, or actually attend that yoga class that you keep scheduling into your calendar and missing when it’s time to go.  “This thing about ‘we are indispensable’ is what traps us,” Levin says.  Often we think that no one else can do things as well as we can.  But perhaps we “helpers” just need a little excuse to help ourselves, or lean on someone else for a change.  So take this opportunity to consider:  what will you do to reset your boundaries this week?

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