Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others. Brene Brown
Veterinarians are really, really good at setting boundaries. Said no one, ever. Well, I might be exaggerating a little bit, but we definitely could use some work on setting boundaries. I know this because when I first started presenting on this topic about 5 years ago, in almost every presentation I rarely got passed my second slide, the one that read, “How do you define a personal or professional boundary?” I would then spend the rest of the presentation discussing the definition of boundaries and what they might look like in veterinary medicine, often after we had watched this short video.
The thought of learning how to set boundaries is a daunting one, especially in a digital world that is trying to convince us that we need to be available to all the people in our lives 24-7. It requires a deep understanding of yourself and what is important to you. It requires practice and patience, not only with others, but also with yourself. It necessitates numerous skills sets, including communication, problem solving, self-management and the ability to prioritize, just to name a few. The goal of this blog is not to turn you into a ninja level boundary setter. Rather, we want you to spend a few minutes thinking about how boundaries might help you be more successful by completing the exercise below.
Answer the following question:
If you could say no to someone or something, knowing there would be absolutely no hard feelings or negative consequences, who or what would you say no to?
- What (be as specific as possible) is keeping you from saying no to this person or situation? Think about the why behind what is holding you back.
- Where have you been successful setting boundaries before?
- What, specifically, has allowed you to say no in previous scenarios?
- How can you apply what has worked before to new situations?
- How do you feel when other people set boundaries that include you?
- What is one simple boundary you could set that would allow you to practice the skill of boundary setting?
We are confident that you can learn the skill of boundary setting. Start small and simple. Engage your community to help and hold you accountable. And, remember, no is a complete sentence.