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The Icky Side Of Setting Boundaries – 4 Ways To Honor The Fear & Do It Anyway

Written by: Yolan Bedasse, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Yolan Bedasse

“I can’t do that. I’m not fearless like you”. These were words thrown at me by someone afraid to remind a co-worker to address them respectfully. I’ve also heard some version of this response when talking to clients about setting any boundaries in their personal and/or professional lives:

 

Young man bungee jumping over river.

“You don’t understand. If I do this... insert consequences here"


“Every time I try to, I get nauseous”


“ I do communicate what I need but I don’t consistently follow through”

 

What’s my response to my alleged fearlessness? Well, first I laugh because if they only knew. Then I remind them, that standing up for yourself isn’t about being fearless, it’s about deciding to prioritize your needs and your expectations despite the ick factor that comes from the fears. So if at this point, you’re expecting me to give you tips and tricks on how to overcome the fear, I can’t help you. I don’t think you ever conquer the fear but rather you learn to honor it and act accordingly.

 

To honor something is to hold it in high regard. However, that doesn’t mean you dwell on the fear or allow it to dictate your decisions but rather, you recognize it as the cautious version of yourself that’s trying to keep you safe because it doesn’t know differently.

 

So how can you recognize the fear, honor it, and then handle your business? By remembering these four things:

 

1. Remember who you are


The number one thing I want you to know is that your worth is a given. It is not dependent on any job, opportunity, or person. Why is this important? Because once this sinks in, you’ll realize that you don’t need to ask anyone permission on how to treat you. Not a parent, family member, friend, significant other, and most definitely not that person at work with the fancy job title. No matter what, we all deserve to be treated with respect and have the right to that expectation.

 

2. Remember your why


I get it. Any form of confrontation is uncomfortable. But if you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: remembering your why is about making yourself the priority because nobody is obligated to take care of you but you my friend.

 

A few years ago, I was working in a situation that I would describe as toxic. I got to the breaking point when I caught a bad case of the flu during a critical week when deliverables were due to our clients. We’re talking voice loss, headaches, fever, chills, fatigue… the whole production. Instead of worrying about my health, I was concerned about what my leadership would think of me allowing myself to fall at the 11th hour. So when I could, I joined calls (with no voice) and checked in with the team throughout the day in between my NyQuil-induced naps. Crazy, I know. But something shifted that week. In the middle of my poor attempt at being a team player, I received a message from one of the directors at the time, not to ask if I was okay, but to confirm whether or not I was contagious because “she was currently sitting at my desk”. I prioritized my recovery and rest after that. When I walked into my leader’s office a few months later requesting a transfer, I kept this in the back of my mind to fuel my why: I’m the only one obligated to take care of me.

 

It truly feels like an out-of-body experience when someone you hold in high regard says some downright disrespectful things to you. So when I requested a meeting with my leader to discuss my concerns, he told me I was “unreasonable” and “selfish” for wanting to “abandon” the team. I was momentarily speechless. Then I remembered my why. So I squared my shoulders and said “No one is obligated to me but me. So if doing this is beneficial for my health & well-being then call it what you want”. The downside, he denied my request. The upside is that it was my last day working with him. With the help of more reasonable individuals in the organization, I was transferred into a better situation.

 

Was that fun for me? Absolutely not. Did my legs feel like spaghetti when I walked in and out of his office? Of course. Was there ever a chance I was going to back out? No. Because I reminded myself of the late nights, weekends, snarky comments, numerous times I was sick, and the toxic interactions I had. It reminded me of my why. For more on my burnout story and path to recovery, check out My Burnout Made It’s Debut In A Pretty Pink Dress.

 

3. Consider the potential consequences


If you read my story above and went “Good for you, I try this at work, I’ll get fired and I have bills to pay Yolan!”. I hear you completely. There will be times that you want to say something and you decide not to because of the long-term impact. And that’s okay. I’m not here to tell you to blow up your life. But I am here to show you that you are capable of pushing past your fear. Remember safety is in the familiar which means fear lives in the unknown. Taking a minute to think through the potential scenarios, outcomes, and consequences will help you prepare, analyze the impact, and decide if the cost of inaction is worth it or not. Above all else please be gentle with yourself. It might take you a few tries to communicate what you need and in some cases, you may decide not to. And again, that’s okay. Tim Ferriss has a great technique to help us define our fears and think through different scenarios/outcomes. He gives a great overview with tangible steps during his Ted Talk here.

 

4. Remember feeling “fearless” is a scam


One of the main concerns I hear from coworkers, friends, family, and clients on why they don’t set boundaries is the discomfort. The discomfort of having the confrontation, the nausea that comes with it, and the potential backlash. Our brain is designed to keep us safe and safety means sticking with what’s familiar. If difficult conversations, standing up for yourself, and reminding others to address you respectfully are not things you’ve done in the past, of course, it’s going to feel dangerous. But also remember the brain will deem something safe not based on whether it is good or bad but based on familiarity. So how do you quiet the mind when the danger bells are going off in your head before and during these difficult moments? Slow down and just remember: safety is in the familiar and familiar is in the evidence of what we’ve done before. So just think of it as you setting these boundaries now is gathering evidence for a future version of you.

 

Conclusion


Being able to masterfully set and maintain your boundaries is not about being fearless. It’s about the sense of self, remembering your why, analyzing the cost of inaction, and then acting accordingly. Boundaries are simply the decisions you make daily to prioritize your well-being… despite the ick you may feel from your fears.


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Yolan Bedasse Brainz Magazine
 

Yolan Bedasse, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Yolan is a certified life coach and loves all things that exude cozy, homey vibes. She started her corporate career 10+ years ago and understands first hand the struggles of navigating a stressful job and the pressures of every day life. She’s been the woman whose image of a “put together life” actually required a careful dance of being kept awake at 2am by her own thoughts and never asking for help. In 2022, she became a certified life coach with the goal of helping women who also know this struggle. Her fellow hyper independent, over-thinkers who want to be self assured, get into a loving relationship with the word no and wear their imperfections proudly. All while finding little moments to exhale.

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