Autumn is one of my favorite times of year. It is also a time when life seems to start picking up, after the slowness of the summer. As writers, we are looking at fitting Halloween, the football season, Thanksgiving, and Christmas and the other December religious holidays. Shopping, baking, sending out cards. All of which takes up our time, and involves interacting with other people. At this time, setting boundaries sounds like a really good thing!
Suddenly we have a multitude of obligations, totally aside from our obligations to our writing. Right about now is when we need to learn to say now, in a manner that is gracious but firm, and saves face for everyone. It is time to reinforce old boundaries, and set new ones. If you are saying ye to things, then resenting the time and energy spent, boundaries are something that you need to think about.
The boundaries that you are about to set may be with friends and family, with publishers, editors, individuals that you are working on projects with, or spouses/partners. A good thing to do is to write out what you expect of yourself, and what the deadlines are. Include both personal and business obligations. List them in order of importance. If your list is overwhelming, and you know already that you won't be able to accomplish everything on it, then look at what you can delegate to others ,,, or simply not do.
Become self-aware. Acknowledge when you are uncomfortable with something, or someone. Ask yourself why that is. Ask yourself what you need to do about that. Look at the image at the head of this article. Note where you wants/needs are, where the wants/needs of the other person or issue are, and where the boundary needs to be for you to be comfortable.
Find the best way for you to set your boundaries with others. Find support - someone that you can talk to before, during, and after the process of setting a boundary. Do not carry strong emotions into the conversation about setting boundaries. Remain calm. If you find yourself getting angry or upset, take a short time out, or continue the conversation at another time. Phrase things in a direct, concise manner. Be clear, not vague. You are the one setting the boundary - there is no need to defend yourself, or to debate the need for a boundary. This is your decision, it involves your life, and this is what you are doing. Do not allow the other person to side-track you. If someone is is trying to resist you, calmly restate your request. Do this as many times as you need to. Be prepared to do exactly what you said you would do if the other person did not respect your boundary. If you waver, or give in, they will not respect you, or your needs.
Learn to set boundaries within yourself. Avoiding confrontation is not going to do you or anyone else any good. You may actually end up building resentment within yourself. When you feel uncomfortable in a relationship, look at the following: Where is the truth in the relationship? How much of what is making you uncomfortable actually belongs to the other person/people? What can you do or say to regain a sense of personal power with this person, or these people?
Be prepared to experience a certain amount of guilt over having to establish boundaries. There is a good chance that other people may not want to be accountable for their words/actions, that they will not see the need for boundaries, or that at first they will not honor the boundaries. Acknowledge that you are making a lifestyle change, and that you will have to be making some tough choices. Allow taking care of yourself to become a priority. Know that you are not alone in this, that as a writer (which tends to be a very solitary occupation) you are one of many that are facing the issue of setting boundaries.
A bit of self-promotion here. Aside from setting boundaries, take a look at the very real things you can do to survive the holidays: Surviving The Holidays.
(c) 2000 - 2013 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited in all venues without written permission of the author.