Have you ever said "I have to ____" or "they need me to ____" Do you ever say "I have to do this" for a chore or something, even in your own life? Did you ever say that with things people "need" or want you to do? Do you ever say yes to something and regret it later?
Here's a straightforward way to hack your boundaries using language - this is a massive tip.
I used to do this ALL. The. Time -- "I have to" or "I need to" or "They need me to" -- as if I had no control over my own choice, my schedule, as if I had no choice in the matter.
Do this one simple thing instead
Change "I have to ___" or "they need me to ___" to "I CHOOSE ____."
Even if I didn't feel like I was choosing, every time I caught myself saying, "I have to do this thing," I would say, "I choose to do this thing," because then it forces our brain to evaluate. It makes you take a step back. It kicks off an internal check. Do you want to choose that thing?? Realistically is there time, and does it fit into what else needs attention? How does it fit into your current demands on your time and energy? If you have a choice (which you DO), where will you choose to slot this thing into all the other stuff already scheduled or necessary things?
Once I started to say "I choose ___" it caused a stepping back. Does that make sense? Objectively, is this really something I choose?
Choosing this way relates to internal boundaries, which is part of my Gentle Boundaries Course. Those internal boundaries change our internal language and shift external boundaries because every time we say "I have to" or "they need me to" we remove our choice and voice, losing touch with our inner self.
"I choose to do this errand now" or "I choose to do this chore now" makes big chores and tasks easier because I CHOOSE empowers.
If someone asked me to do a thing because they "needed" something, just changing it to "I choose to do this thing that this person needs" forced my brain to evaluate - is this something I want to choose? Realistically is it even within my capacity to do? Do they really need me, or is someone else available? Can they do this thing without me? Honestly, is this something I can fit into my current responsibilities and schedule? Is this an essential thing, or just that they want it? Either way, when can I choose to do that thing?
It gives you back your choice and voice in a very gentle way.
So try that out and let me know how that works -- if you catch yourself saying "I have to" or "they need me to" or whatever similar sort of language is in your head, know you have a choice, change to "I CHOOSE" and let me know how that works for you.
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