One of the hardest parts of “adulting” is placing boundaries when you need them. The more important the person, the harder the work.

They say in coaching that you get the clients that you need. I wonder if that’s true with all relationships. Our child needed–and still needs–parents with a much more rigid line than we like to take. We had to focus on absolute consistency. It provided safety and scaffolding. The scaffolding included a nonnegotiable bedtime. Clear expectations and visible consequences. Without these boundaries, our lives would fall into chaos, and we would suffer the consequences of a miserable child.

The same is true for the business world. I had a client recently tell me, “I think my staff is waiting for me to make some rules. They will be relieved when I do.” And even with that knowledge, it’s still hard to do.

I don’t like that part of relationships—parenting, friendships, business. I don’t want to be the “heavy.” I don’t like rigid rules myself. I find myself putting my energy toward wishing that I didn’t need to do this important work –why can’t the other person change so I don’t have to do the work?

The paradox is with boundaries is that the tough up-front work is what sets us free. They can give us back our energy long term instead of handing it away over and over because we didn’t do the work.

Holding the boundaries requires self-care. Enough energy to do what might be harder up front but takes care of issues down the line. Remembering the boundaries and keeping them firm.

What boundaries and tough conversations are you avoiding? How does that serve you? You know it’s a big one if you hit an emotional block –queasy stomach, resentment, discomfort. Huge signs that your boundaries needs some adjustment. Avoiding the tough conversations doesn’t make them go away, they just get buried in our selves and multiply. We carry our unfinished work into all of the other relationships in our lives.

Be curious about all of those clear signs from your body that there’s some tough work to do. And you might not want to go it alone.

Written by Dr. Dana Mitra

I am a life coach at Coaching By Dana and tenured academic professor at Penn State.

2 comments

  1. This definetlye feels like an earth element thing to do. Can i ask a quick question? How did you get into coaching? The idea seems so fascinating to me

    1. I was led into coaching through mentoring, teaching, and believing that we all hold inner wisdom. If we tap into it, our lives can be bigger than we ever could imagine. Happy to schedule a no obligation session with you to help you to learn what it’s about. dana@coachingbydana.com

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