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Setting Boundaries for Breathing Room

By Ana Tampanna

With all the roles that women fill, mastering the art of setting boundaries is crucial. Even I must confess that I have been guilty of preparing 4 individual dinners for one sitting catering to my family's multi preferences! Many of us take on too much, thinking we can do it all, but mindless of the price we pay in the long run. Take a survey of your life's boundaries".do you need to dig some fence post holes?

Personal safety:

Do you have a safety plan in the event of violence? (single AND married women need this)

Do you have a spouse or boyfriend who abuses you?

Does your company have a protection program to protect employees from ex-spouses who are abusive?

Do your children know of homes in the neighborhood if they need to seek refuge?

Do you teach your children that "No means no" and "Stop means stop" even in their play?

Work and career boundaries:

Do you have boundaries for negative people and co-workers who drain you and your time?

Do you set boundaries allowing for your professional development? (Study or research time, as well as training. Also, is this a boundary that is valued and supported by your employer?)

If you work in your home, do you set boundaries with family members so they don't interrupt you?

Do you place boundaries on email that you open?

Family and Life Balance boundaries

Do you set boundaries around personal exercise time and quiet time?

Do you set boundaries allowing for family time?

Do you require spouse and children to share household chores?

Do you set boundaries for television and electronic screen time?

Do you make excuses for your children, cater to picky appetites, and clean their rooms because it's easier for you to do it?

Do you set boundaries to provide for laughter time, vacations, and getaways?

Special situation boundaries

"Do you set stronger boundaries during crisis? (Letting go of committees or extracurricular responsibilities?)

"Is your spirit crushed from a controlling boss? Are you humiliated or manipulated at work? Is your workplace full of backstabbing and malicious intent?

"Do you make excuses for your children, cater to picky appetites, and clean their rooms because it's easier for you to do it?

"Do you allow your critical parent to manipulate your life?

Setting boundaries is the key to taking charge of your life. If you recognize areas where you need to set boundaries, here are some approaches that might help:

Set your exercise and quiet time commitments first. Schedule your day around them. Guard those boundaries fiercely.

Ask friends how they set their boundaries for a particular situation. Gather ideas for different approaches.

Discuss the situation with a counselor. Determine a strategy together.

With your family, create some family policies. Make agreements together".consider appropriate consequences or awards of special family time.

Monitor your progress setting the boundary. Keep a time chart or make notes in your calendar or journal. Review your boundary keeping at the end of each day, acknowledging your progress.

Eliminate "forwards" from your email. Limit yourself to one or 2 ezines and set a time limit for scanning all of them. Evaluate how much they have benefited you in getting results.

Post your goals where you can focus on them daily.

Say "no" and mean it. Remind yourself, "It's ok to say no."

For neighborhood safety, get to know your neighbors. Initiate a block party every year for building friendly morale.

Time management is like filling a closet: there is only room for so much. Allow blocks of time for priorities and focus your attention to avoid cluttered thoughts and messy performance. Boundaries for personal safety are not always taught, but setting them is crucial for survival. Everyone has a right to personal growth, high self esteem, and career development as well, but it takes a determination to set boundaries in order to achieve goals. Sometimes the hardest boundaries to set are the ones for quiet, personal, spiritual time. Maybe we should remember the advice of Mahatma Ghandi, "On days that I have twice as much to do, I meditate twice as long!"

© Ana Tampanna

About The Author

Ana Tampanna, "The Alligator Queen," is author or the "The Womanly Art of Alligator Wrestling." To learn more about her books in addition to her speaking and coaching services, visit her site at

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