Having Boundaries Feels Mean

As a recovering People Pleaser myself, I totally got it when a client shared this limiting belief during our session last week. When I think of the countless birthday parties, second dates, bridal showers, housewarmings, engagement parties and third dates I've gone on because it would have been rude to say "no," I've often wondered what the hell I would have done with all that valuable time I gave away.  

Perhaps I would have started my coaching business earlier.  Or booked a few more acting gigs if I had given countless sides (audition material) the precious energy and attention they deserved.   Or maybe my savings account would be a tad more adulty looking...

Yes. I just made up the word “adulty.”

Holding boundaries is tricky to navigate because of old stories that say if you choose yourself first, you're selfish, which ultimately results in feelings of guilt and shame.  

If I say “no” to my best friend’s wedding in St. Croix that I can’t afford, she’ll never forgive me.

My sister wants me to join her pyramid-schemed skincare company that I have ZERO interest in, but I feel bad not helping her out because she’s struggling financially.

My agent wants me to audition for a poorly written movie that pays no money but I’m scared if I say no, she’ll drop me.

Any of these sound familiar or remind you of something else you said YES to that every fiber of your inner being screamed HELL NO! to??

Believe me-- this Irish Catholic GETS IT, but it finally hit me that it wasn’t worth the pent up resentment I built saying yes to soul-sucking activities that left me feeling physically exhausted and creatively spent by the time I came up for air to meet MY OWN NEEDS.

Martha Beck—the genius at the helm of my life-coach training program, uses the term SHACKLES ON for the stuff we don’t wanna do but feel we should.

Does it feel shackles-on? is a great go-to question when I’m invited to an event my gut knows I won’t enjoy, or when a potential client tries to lower my coaching rates, or it’s Sunday at 11pm (way beyond this Grandma’s bedtime) and I feel I have to write a “perfect” #claireyourmindmonday post by the following AM.

And don't get me wrong-- despite battling this ongoing Irish Catholic guilt disorder that sometimes feels incurable, one aspect of my strong religious/cultural upbringing that I pride myself on is SHOWING UP for those I love-- even when I'm tired, run down, or having a Sad Sally Moment.

But where do we DRAW THE FREAKIN' LINE?

The best solution I can offer is assessing how you feel about the shackles on predicament IN THE MOMENT.  Perhaps you decide to take one for the team and show up because your values system says, "You know what?  Sarah was there for me last week when I needed her, so I'm gonna go to her stand-up show that's an hour and a half in LA traffic that probably won't be very funny…"  (Ok that last part was mean)

Or sometimes that not so desirable second date feels like the right thing to say yes to, even when he doesn't knock your socks off (figuratively speaking, my naughty readers!) because you might have a lighter load that week and feel more open getting to know someone before deciding it's a hard pass.

I know, I know: Yeah Claire, but what about when you REALLY don't want to do the thing you feel you HAVE to do because God Forbid, WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?!? 

I can't lie and say I no longer fear what others think BUT, I can safely say that the people I VALUE most don't think less of me now that I'm choosing to place some more focus on self-care, my clients, my new relationship, and expanding my business to name a few...

And as uncomfortable as it is to let those down who don't understand, my deepest knowing self recognizes that they're just not my people.

NOT EVERYONE CAN BE and that's OK.  

One of my favorite take-aways from Martha Beck's program was: If you're NOT pissing someone off, then you're doing something WRONG.

If you're feeling stuck-- whether it's in a dissatisfying relationship, friendship, or job, ask yourself if you're staying in it for you or for them.  

And if implementing boundaries would bring you more peace, abundance, energy and/or rest-- I'd say it's the right thing-- even at the cost of losing a saboteur in your life labeling you  "mean" or "selfish." 

That actually sounds like a big WIN to me, and an act of kindness towards yourself.

I know this isn't a black and white issue, but I bet there's ONE NEW BOUNDARY you could implement today that frees you up.  I dare you to try it…


I'll close with my FAVORITE Elizabeth Gilbert quote:  Say more no's to create room for your yes's.

For this reason, I'm taking on NO more clients.


That would be mean.

Two more.

Contact me.




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