healthy boundaries Archives - Dr. Mary Pritchard

Setting Healthy Boundaries

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It was 7pm on a Sunday night. My phone vibrated. I was in the middle of a guided meditation I was listening to on my phone, and yes, I stopped meditating and looked at my phone because it startled me. I saw it was a text and finished my meditation before I read it (believe me when I tell you that there was a day not too long ago when I would have stopped my meditation and responded to that text immediately, so I have actually come a long way!). 

After meditating, I read the text. It was from a former student who wanted my feedback right then on a personal statement she was writing. At one point in my life, I would have dropped everything and spent an hour of my Sunday evening off reading and rewriting something for a student. But I stopped that behavior a few years ago. Why? Because that kind of behavior left me depleted and exhausted. Because that kind of behavior also left me feeling resentful toward whoever was asking me to work in my “off hours” and angry at myself for being a people pleaser and yes woman (more on that in today’s video). Because that kind of behavior ultimately made it difficult for me to show up and be of service at all.

I had a big aha moment around setting healthy boundaries seven or eight years ago. My then boss and I were madly emailing back and forth working on the logistics of a job offer we were going to make a candidate we didn't want to lose to another employer. The catch? It was Christmas Day. Yes, I spent hours on Christmas Day helping my boss write an email offer to a candidate. My then husband asked me why I was working so much on Christmas. I gave him the same excuse my boss kept telling me – that we didn't want to lose this candidate. He pointed out that it was unlikely she'd be checking her email on Christmas or that she'd get another job offer until after the holiday break anyway. I'd love to tell you that he was right… but that candidate was checking her email and accepted our offer… on Christmas Day. (As my boss said, she fit right in!)

The absurdity of the situation didn't really strike me until a couple of weeks later when my boss was bragging in a meeting at work about how we snagged our best candidate on Christmas Day. One of my colleagues commented that it was inappropriate to be emailing an offer on Christmas and interrupting our candidate's holiday with her family. My boss told her that it was okay as she didn't have children. I sat there and wondered why having children gave you a permission slip to actually take Christmas off when my plans with my family (although with no children) didn't qualify.

I would love to be able to tell to that you that things changed forever for me on that day and that I became an expert at setting healthy boundaries at work and with loved ones overnight. But, like much of life, learning to set healthy boundaries was a journey and is still a work in progress for me. In today's video, I share the key pieces involved in learning to set healthy boundaries. I hope they serve you and help you learn to set healthy boundaries for yourself.