One of the hardest strategies to employ is setting personal boundaries. People feel entitled to your life, your finances, and your physical house! However, people feel entitled because you entitled them. You entitled them to move in and out of your house out of their own sheer will. You entitled them to plan your finances around their lives. You entitled them to get you into things before your time. In fact, it is you who got yourself into the things that you are now complaining about.
Thus, setting boundaries begins with assessing your own contribution, what you thought was important in that season of your life, and now what you need to consider moving forward. You cannot be everything to everybody. You would die, and you are not Jesus, Jr. You must learn the art of setting boundaries, caring enough about yourself to ensure that you are covered before you cover someone else.
This has been my mistake in the past, and it led to me struggling financially, not becoming the student I really wanted to be academically, and failing to ensure I was competitive professionally. Although I have the degrees I earned, I initially struggled after graduate school to secure work apart from the immediate environment of teaching since that was my training. I had left full-time work in the business field to enter college because I just wanted something simply better for myself. I didn’t want to settle, and the job I was on felt like I would be settling. However, in some ways it was a mistake to leave that job without a stronger financial plan, which made it easier to dip in and out of hasty decision-making.
Lack of Direction
This gap in my thinking left me dangling emotionally and psychologically, which prompted me to spend financially without true direction. When you do not have direction, you find yourself trying to give everyone else direction, and the way in which you do that is with your finances. Then your finances become the guiding post for everyone’s life simply because you did not set the necessary boundaries with yourself concerning finances.
One of the important ways of setting financial boundaries is understanding your financial boundaries. If you cannot leave a job right now because it is not financially feasible, then that is you setting financial boundaries. There are always safety exceptions. If there are safety concerns at the job, or you have to ride the bus too early in the morning when it is still dark, or you cannot get consistent care for your child, then these are exceptions to the rule. Just remember, however, that the decisions you make regarding exceptions will still affect your finances and your financial decision-making. That decision to exit one thing and enter another has its financial concerns that you must address.
Another important way of setting financial boundaries should really be obvious to us, but it is not. We run our mouths too much. We assume that we are strong enough emotionally to say “No,” but we are not always as strong as we think. Saying “No” is not an easy task if you have been nurtured as a people pleaser. If all you know is how to be agreeable, then that is really all you know, and you may measure success with people based on how well you give over your finances to suit their needs. But this decision leaves you uncovered. You will find yourself homeless trying to cover everyone else.
“Do not become financially homeless helping others”–Regina Y. Favors
It is inevitable that if you continue to make sure everyone else has what he or she needs and not yourself, then you will find yourself sleeping on someone’s couch, lying on a mat in a shelter, struggling to pay your own rent while that person lives rent free in another person’s house, and never having anything of your own to measure personal success.
These are some of the hardest lessons I have had to learn because they were rooted in people pleasing, which I no longer suffer from but was a struggle to overcome. It is a difficult understanding to come to that you are 100% responsible for yourself as an adult once you leave the confines and comforts of your family background and upbringing. It doesn’t matter how well or not well you were raised. It might serve as a contributing factor to know that you were nurtured in financial dysfunction and chaos, but once you hit that door, you are responsible for every financial decision you make. You have to own up to it whether you like it or not.
If you are in a situation that reflects some kind of lack or struggle with emotional, financial, or spiritual homelessness, you have to think about your contribution because you still made the decision. It is not like someone pushed you, i.e., took you by the hand, and put the needle in your arm. It is not like the person who asked you for money took your hand, put it in your purse, and pulled out the money to give to him or her.
You volunteered your time, your money, your body, your belief system, your thinking, and your finances. That is something you will need to accept about yourself.
That money that paid for drugs could have gone to money to pay for college, to open a business, to create another opportunity for yourself, and/or to find work. This means that you decided your money and finances would be better spent in a destructive way that yields you no true benefit.
Setting financial boundaries is a belief system that is not optional. It is an important component of adulthood that will drive and protect other decisions you make. You must set financial boundaries. There are no other options that you can consider because you are responsible for yourself. This means move in silence when it comes to your money. Do not tell everyone everything about what you do, what you have, what you’re going to get, and what you plan to do. Until you are strong enough emotionally to adhere to your own boundary-setting and care enough about yourself to cover yourself, be careful how you guide your finances.
As a solution, the best way to resolve a failure to set financial boundaries is by conducting a gap assessment. On this site, I discuss different aspects of gap assessment, offering also videos on the topic. Click the tab “Gap Assessment” for further insight and access to videos.
Essentially, a gap assessment is defined as the difference between “what is” and “what should be.” You could conduct a gap assessment based on an understanding or lack of understanding concerning your finances, your professional development, and your personal relationships.
- What is the gap?
- What are the tools necessary to close that gap?
- What is my strategy for closing that gap?
A gap open in one area can affect another area and also create a gap in that area. The more gaps you have, the more likely it will be that you will struggle in multiple areas of your life.
The most important takeaway from this article is that you have every right to set personal and financial boundaries. Only you can tell you not to do something or to do something. If you are in a situation where you are struggling financially because of a decision you made, then you told you to do that thing. You told you where to put your money, to whom to give your money, and you justified the reasoning based on whatever expectations you gave yourself to make yourself feel better.
It all begins with you!
That, too, is a difficult understanding to come to because it is much more convenient to blame someone else because of our financial decision-making.
Thank you for reading.
Regina Y. Favors, Owner/Operator
Quote reference derives from Toxic Encounters: Why People Pursue Rebound Relationships. This title is available on Amazon. Click the link for purchase.
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