Ask An Empowerment Coach: How Can I Set Boundaries, Find Peace, and Li – Journaling is Self-Care LLC

Ask An Empowerment Coach: How Can I Set Boundaries, Find Peace, and Live Authentically Without Hurting People's Feelings? (Journal prompts included!)

Ask An Empowerment Coach: How Can I Set Boundaries, Find Peace, and Live Authentically Without Hurting People's Feelings? (Journal prompts included!)

My clients are ambitious and loving women who come to me because they're  sick and tired of shrinking around their needs and getting the short end of the stick in their relationships. And the question I am asked the most often, even before enrolling a new client is “How can I set boundaries, find peace, and live authentically without hurting people's feelings?”

While my heart breaks a little for each woman that asks me this question, it excites me too. I love answering it because my response helps my clients shift from feeling powerless and ashamed of their needs to understanding that they're valuable and are just as entitled to receiving pleasure, having fun, and being happy as anyone else.

Sound intriguing? Great! Keep reading and I’ll help you sort this out!

Set Boundaries, Find Peace: The Key to Getting Out of Your Own Way

Set boundaries, find peace. Following those two simple steps can  be deeply impactful and they’re often life-changing. Yet, actually taking this action is a process that’s easily muddled with tons of confusion and difficult emotions. 

Let’s start with the latter. The difficult emotions. It’s also the part of the initial question that causes my clients the most anxiety. It’s the part about hurting other people’s feelings.

How can I set boundaries, find peace, and live authentically without hurting peoples feelings?

Yea, this is a two parter.

Other people’s feelings aren’t any of your business, so don’t drive yourself crazy worrying about them.

This isn’t mean. This isn’t careless. It’s a fact.

No matter what you say or what you do, you cannot control how another person will react. Trying to control another person’s reaction is just as pointless as trying to control the weather.

These are both things that people freak out about unnecessarily and as a result, they cause their own stress and suffering.

Let’s break down a bit.

You have a day in nature planned. You're going hiking and picnicking by a beautiful creek near the trail. But when you check the forecast over your morning coffee, you see that there’s a 90% chance of rainstorms throughout the day and you just heard a rumble of thunder. 

You don’t want to hike and picnic in the rain. You want to hike and picnic on a sunny, clear day like the one you saw on the forecast three days ago when you made this plan. You become agitated and upset that your entire day is ruined. 

Your entire day doesn’t have to be ruined though. Okay, hiking is out of the question, but you can still read the book you’ve been wanting to start or finally get to the laundry that’s been piling up. 

Your day doesn’t have to be completely wasted simply because things aren’t going according to your plan. You can still do something that makes you feel happy and accomplished, you just have to accept where you do and don’t have power.

No, you don’t have power over the weather, so don’t fight with the weather. You have power over your own actions and emotions, so choose the actions and emotions that feel best to you.

Before you can set boundaries with other people in your life, you’ve gotta look in the mirror and start setting boundaries with yourself. Make the decision that you will no longer play a role in your own suffering.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to feel upset or disappointed that your nature filled day is going to have to be pushed back. I’m saying that those emotions are not the end all be all.

You have the opportunity to turn the day around. Embrace spontaneity. Every second of your life cannot and will not go according to your plans and there are many, many interesting and fun opportunities in that, IF you allow things to be that way. This is one of the situations where you have power.

Now, let's relate this lesson on power to the question you have about setting boundaries. "How can I set boundaries, find peace, and live authentically without hurting other people's feelings?"

Your friend Amber is in a toxic relationship. You love her, so you feel bad that she’s in pain. You cry with her, you give your best advice (she never takes it though), and you let her stay at your place when things are too chaotic for her at home.

You have to be there for her because she doesn’t have anyone else. Plus, she was there for you when you went through hell in the past. ← Your hypothetical words, not mine.

But the reality is that not only is Amber draining your energy, but you’ve become the third person in her toxic relationship and it is consuming and depressing you just as much as it's consuming and depressing her!

  • You can’t make Amber take your advice, which is why she’s still with him after you’ve told her to leave 400 times.
  • You can’t make her see that she can do better, which is why she still talks about how great he is every time they make up.
  • And you can’t cure the trauma she’s holding onto that has made her a magnet to this dude which is why she's in so deep. 

However, what you can do is set boundaries in your relationship with Amber.

You can explain that you can no longer spend so much time in her relationship because your friendship has become unhealthy and codependent, so you're pulling back. And then, you can take action by sticking to your word and stopping her vent sessions after 30 minutes instead of allowing yourself to be sucked in for three hours.

This is where you have power. You are in control of your actions and no one else's.

Just like weather, you can't say or do anything to prevent Amber from getting upset with you for setting these boundaries. And also, you can't just assume she will get upset. She might appreciate it and use it as an opportunity to work on herself.

When you pull back, you can even lovingly suggest that she work with a coach, counselor, or therapist so that she can receive a more productive form of help and support. But again, you don't have the power to make her get this help

Of course, you love her and want to support her, but setting boundaries let’s her know that you cannot be on call 24-7 and that she needs to take responsibility for her own happiness and healing. 

And let's be real here, if there was a way you could make Amber do what you want, you wouldn’t be in the situation in the first place. She would have left her toxic relationship the first time you told her to, but remember, you’ve said it 400 times already and she ain’t budgin’! 

So, why should you continue to suffer and stress about things you don't have control over?

The Inner Work That Will Help You Set Boundaries with Ease

If you’re thinking about setting a boundary, you already know that the way things are currently going aren’t serving your highest good. That’s why you made the decision to set the boundary in the first place, right?

Okay. So, since this is so important to you, why do you care so much about how someone else will react? What is really stopping you from valuing your needs enough to do everything in your power to make sure they are met?

I never set out to hurt anyone’s feelings. My intention is to spread as much love as I can. However, I love myself too much to suffer in silence because of the possibility that I might hurt someone’s feelings or cause them to become upset with me because I’ve set a boundary for my own wellbeing.

When you’re so focused on other people’s reactions that they stop you from doing what you really want to do, you end up being trapped in a prison of your own creation. It’s a prison where your mind is the bars and locks.

The upside to this  is that since you created your own prison, you can set yourself free from it too because as you created the bars and locks, you can create the keys.

This is the part that excites me when people ask “How can I set boundaries, find peace, and live authentically without hurting peoples feelings?” This is where you realize that you have the power to shift your mindset and become the boss of your life!

Identifying the Root Cause of Your Inability to Set Boundaries

The beliefs and and opinions you carry are rarely ever based on facts, regardless of how overwhelming or real they feel. Your beliefs and opinions come from your past experiences and traumas that continously replay in the background of your mind. These impressions from your past come to the forefront when something triggers them in the present.

So, when you react in an uncomfortable situation, you’re reacting to the present moment with the same coping strategies you used in the past. And as a result, a younger, less mature version of yourself (most likely a version of yourself as a child)  is controlling your thoughts, feelings, and actions when your past wounds are hit.

 

So, why is your inner child in the driver’s seat? When you were young, you didn’t have the emotional intelligence to process uncomfortable and painful things that happened. As a result, you stuffed them down deep in your mind so that you wouldn’t have to face them. But if you really want to experience freedom as an adult, you have to give these events attention and examine them in order to keep them from disrupting your life. 

Let me set a scene for you here.  

At 9 years-old, you’re innocently minding your own business coloring at the kitchen table. Your sister walks into the room and you see your favorite doll in each of her hands. What? Yes, the head is in one hand and the body is in the other.

She broke your baby!

You’re pissed. This doll has been your best friend since kindergarten and you’re sick of your annoying little sister always messing up your things. You angrily scream at her to stay out of your room and to never ever touch your toys again.

Your sister, too young to take responsibility for her wrongs cries, calls you mean, and says she wishes she had a different sister.

You feel guilty and ashamed. You’ve hurt your little sister’s feelings and seeing her cry breaks your heart. To make things right, you immediately invite her to your room and she has her way with your favorite set of LEGOs. 

A week later, you realize she lost half the LEGO pieces, but you don’t do anything about it because of the incident with the doll. You don’t want to see your sister cry again, so you just find a way to deal with the smaller LEGO set.

Fast forward 20 years, your sister spills wine on the white cashmere sweater your bought yourself as your first fancy adult clothing investment. It's red wine. Merlot red. Cabernet red. Red, red, red. The stain isn't coming out and she just shrugs it off. 

Maybe you yell and call her selfish, but you both know her that ass will be in your favorite date night skinny jeans by next week. Or maybe you hold it all in and just cry into your pillow later. You’re going to get the same outcome, her ass in your jeans. 

You learned that setting boundaries makes you the bad guy when you were just 9 years-old after sister decapitated your childhood bestie. And although that experience isn’t in the forefront of your mind, you’re moving through your adult life doing everything to not make your little sister cry again. 

Maybe this behavior pattern has trickled off into your friend group, dating life, and professional relationships. Do you have a best friend draining your energy like Amber? Are you working extra hours that you’ll never get paid for?

This is just one example of how people-pleasing behaviors can get started. Your specific situation might be based on trying pull love out of a dismissive parent, seeking validation after abuse, or even coping with loneliness from being bullied. 

The point is, you can’t live authentically and freely when you value other people’s feelings over your own. Healing your inner child is the way out.


How to Heal Your Inner Child in Order to Set Boundaries, Find Peace, and Live Authentically

Let’s address the first part of the question now. “How can I set boundaries, find peace, and live authentically without hurting peoples feelings?”

Set boundaries, find peace.

Again, we’re starting with the latter. Find Peace. You have to make peace with the past before you can take action to find peace in the present.

Using my example with your younger sister, your 9 year-old self is still hurting. She is the one in there trying so hard to keep the peace with everyone in your life that you cannot set the boundaries that will bring you peace as a 29 year-old because her anxiety and fear stops you.

To fix this, you need to give your 9 year-old self some motherly love as the adult in her life. 

You'll need to tune into the original situation and remember what you needed during that time but didn't receive back then. 

You may want to let her know that:

  • She isn’t a bad person, nor is she responsible for her little sister’s reaction to the doll. 
  • She is allowed to have things of her own and that it isn’t fair for her to tolerate having her possessions destroyed. 
  • Her happiness matters and that she is valued as an individual.
  • It isn’t wrong to set boundaries, say “No,” and be respected.
  • She can’t carry the responsibility of making everyone else happy

You get the gist, right?

You can have this conversation in different ways. When I do this work with my clients, I put them in a safe state of hypnosis that allows them to sit face to face with their younger selves to have this conversation.

You can also do it on your own by meditating and visualizing the conversation.

Additionally, you can build this connection by journaling and writing a letter to your past self telling her everything that she needed to hear during the time of the initial trauma.

No matter what method you use, be sure to include these elements:

  • Give your younger self a hug and let her know that she’s safe with you
  • Apologize for not having been able to protect or help her in the past
  • Forgive yourself for the way you handled things
  • Give her room to say anything she needs to say (don’t judge what she says)
  • Be patient, empathetic, and calm
  • Allow yourself to let down your guard and feel your emotions 

If it’s your first time doing reparenting work like this, feeling some resistance within your own energy is normal. Be patient and understand that your inner child may need to have this conversation more than once. Having a professional guide you is extremely beneficial as well.


Journal Prompts to Get Your Ready to Start Setting Boundaries 

In true Journaling is Self-Care LLC fashion, I have some journal prompts to motivate you while you’re starting out on your journey of setting boundaries. These will help you to gain a firm understanding of what’s important to you and why.

Work through these prompts with one boundary at a time to get your head in the game and tune into what you are feeling versus what you’d rather be feeling.

  1. In what ways do you want to set more boundaries in your life?
  2. Why is it important for you to set these boundaries?
  3. What thoughts, emotions, and fears stop you from setting boundaries?
  4. How does it feel to continue allowing your needs to go unmet?
  5. What will your life look like a year from now if you continue to allow your needs to go unmet?
  6. What’s next? What can you do TODAY to move forward in setting boundaries in your life?
This is your invitation to work with me one-on-one!

 And for those of you who want to go DEEP into doing this work with me over a 6 week period, I created a simple step-by-step process called the Be Your Own Hero Method to help women set boundaries, find peace, and live authentically. 

My clients usually fit into one or more of these categories:

  • They’re often people-pleasers who are exhausted from working too hard for bosses who don’t appreciate them
  • They’re burned out from playing the therapist and peace-maker to their loved ones—yet when they’ve had a hard day, there is no one for them to lean on
  • They're ambitious boss babes at work, but feel powerless, small, and unheard in their personal lives
  • They feel trapped in their unhappiness because they carry shame and guilt for having the nerve to want more time to rest, enjoy self-care, and receive support from the people they bust their asses to take care of

If this sounds like you and you’re ready to step outside of your comfort zone, invest in yourself, finally feel confident enough to say “No,” and live the authentic life you’ve fantasized about, learn more about my Be Your Own Hero Method here—you can contact me from this page too!

Set boundaries, find peace, and live authentically without carrying the burden of worrying about other people’s feelings.

And because I love you, I’m going to reiterate this important point one more time before I wrap this article up: You cannot control other people's thoughts, feelings, emotions, and opinions. Just like you have your things that you're carrying from your past that need healing, they have their things too.

But regardless of what's going on with everyone else, you have a right to happiness. Give yourself permission to set boundaries, find peace, and live authentically without carrying the burden of worrying about other people’s feelings.

 


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