Using Your Values to Establish Boundaries


In their book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, Psychologists Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend note “Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.” One place I can easily see where I end and you begin is with values.

As you lean into your values, you become better able to see how they create boundaries. For instance, if you value generosity, you may find yourself in conflict with a person whom you perceive to be selfish. This values clash doesn’t make the other person bad and you good or vice versa. It just means you hold different core values.

Lean-in #3 of Grow Yourself, Using Your Values to Establish Boundaries, is all about using your top 5 values to create and maintain boundaries that only allow into your life the things that you want and value.

If, like me, you have ever been told, “you need to teach people how to treat you,” or, “you get what you tolerate,” then this lean-in is key for you. Understanding what you will and won’t allow in your space and then enforcing those lines is all about teaching people how to treat you and to get only what you desire to tolerate.

To convert your values into boundaries, I recommend using the Boundaries worksheet. On the worksheet, you write your top five values and begin to translate them into boundaries that fall into one of the three following categories: (a) what I will allow in my space given this value, (b) what I will allow in my space but don’t like given this value, and (c) what I won’t allow in my space given this value.

If you are having trouble doing this there are few internal alarms that we have that indicate a boundary is being crossed. The first of those is anger. When you get angry, many times it is because one of your core values is getting compromised or offended.

The second warning sign is the cringe factor. I learned about the cringe factor from Dr. Henry Cloud in his book 9 Things a Leader Must Do. The cringe factor is any time you have to cringe or take a big gulp to agree to do something or to work with someone. If you experience this, that likely means you know one of your values is about to be upended.

Before you can enforce your boundaries, you have to understand exactly where the line is. Once you know where that line is, you can start to understand better how to maintain them.

You can figure out more on how to maintain your boundaries in the next lean-in, Maintaining Your Boundaries.

Your cape awaits!

Tomi Llama

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