Nancy: I invite you to create your own Boundary Pyramid. Simply grab a piece of paper or your journal, make a pyramid with your cherry on top boundaries at the top, your good-to-have boundaries in the middle and your bottom line boundaries at the bottom.
And you can begin looking at any overdue boundaries that you know you need to set but may not be ready to and you can begin to put them in these categories. You do not need to set any of these boundaries right now, however, you might be surprised that once you write them down and put them in categories, you may recognize that even if the stakes are high, like in bottom line boundaries, you are getting to feel ready to set them simply by acknowledging them
Welcome to Your Permission Prescription. I’m Nancy Levin, founder of Levin Life Coach Academy, bestselling author, master life coach, and your host. I train life coaches, aspiring coaches, and anyone who wants to add coaching skills to their current career, to elevate their life and their business. I’ve coached thousands of people to live life on their own terms, and now I coach, train and certify other coaches to do the same. If you are ready to give yourself permission to finally make yourself a priority and mobilize your vision, you are in the right place. Let’s dive in.
Welcome back to another episode of Your Permission Prescription. Today, I’m going to share with you a little something I call the Boundary Pyramid. So your Boundary Pyramid is about to become your new best friend because I’m going to show you how most likely you’ve already discovered that not all boundaries are equal, and utilizing the Boundary Pyramid allows you to categorize your boundaries. And you’re going to see that some boundaries are really essential to set that they have a significant impact on your life. Other boundaries may feel less pressing and may feel more in the good-to-have but not essential category.
And so today we’re going to sort of talk through the different kinds of boundaries and we’re going to begin to see how you’ve been tolerating the intolerable and accepting the unacceptable in your life, instead of experiencing fulfillment, satisfaction, and authentic connection.
Let’s take a look at the Boundary Pyramid that I first introduced in Setting Boundaries Will Set You Free as well as my Boundary Coaching. It’s comprised of three sections, your cherry on top boundaries is the top pointy part of the pyramid. Your good-to-have boundaries make up the middle and your bottom line boundaries make up the bottom foundation.
So cherry on top boundaries are not difficult to set and the stakes are low. There’s something you’d love to have, but not essential to your wellbeing. For example, I often request that music be turned down if I’m in a loud restaurant, that’s a cherry on top boundary that I have.
Good-to-have boundaries make your life easier and more pleasant. They’re intermediate, so a little more of a stretch, but still not essential. For example, one of my good-to-have boundaries is no longer engaging in or listening to gossip.
And a bottom line boundary is essential. Your bottom line boundaries are your essential non-negotiables. These cause you the most long-term discomfort and resentment. And setting them will make your life infinitely better. They are often the ones you’re most afraid to set and they’re also the boundaries that are way past due. For example, a bottom line boundary in my life is, zero tolerance for abusive language or behavior.
So I invite you to create your own Boundary Pyramid. Simply grab a piece of paper or your journal, make a pyramid with your cherry on top boundaries at the top, your good-to-have boundaries in the middle and your bottom line boundaries at the bottom.
And you can begin looking at any overdue boundaries that you know you need to set but may not be ready to and you can begin to put them in these categories. You do not need to set any of these boundaries right now, however, you might be surprised that once you write them down and put them in categories, you may recognize that even if the stakes are high, like in bottom line boundaries, you are getting to feel ready to set them simply by acknowledging them.
Have you ever wanted to make a major change in your life but found yourself overcome with doubts and uncertainties? I know I have. For example, you may have a clear vision of becoming a life coach, but now you need to know where to begin. This is why I created the Life Coach Starter Guide. Inside this guide is the same foundational work I used to build my own career from the ground up. It provides everything you need to start or enhance your coaching practice. Simply visit nancylevin.com/resources to download today for free. You can also find the link in the show notes. Enjoy!
If you find yourself chomping at the bit to set one of your big bottom line boundaries right now, it might be because you’re beginning to feel permission to do so. However, my recommendation is to take a bit of a pause and to see if you can begin setting some cherry on top boundaries or some good-to-have boundaries, first. It’s really important to practice setting your boundaries so you gain more courage and confidence.
And as a reminder, your cherry on top boundaries again, are simply something that might be annoying you and something that you can make a request around or offer your desire around. So as I was saying earlier, I very often, in loud restaurants, request the music to be turned down. I have a dear friend who when she’s at her mother’s house, always has the TV on and she makes a request for the volume to be turned off at least for meals.
Again, these aren’t the kind of boundaries that are gonna make or break your life, but they are the ones you’d love to have and they’re a great place to begin because you’re simply making a request based on what you desire.
For the medium sized boundaries, the good-to-have boundaries, you’re looking at the limits that would make your life easier and more pleasant. So again, they’re not dire, but they might be causing you some degree of resentment. For example, I have a friend who calls me often and leaves me lots of messages and gets a little irked when I don’t pick up. So as this good-to-have boundary, I’ve let her know, Hey, I will get back to you at the end of my workday. Feel free to leave me as many messages as you like, and I’ll get back to you when I’m able to. So I’m letting her know what works for me.
And finally, there are your bottom line boundaries. And these might be the ones as I said before, that you’re most afraid to set. And in many ways, they’re the ones that are the most persistent, that continue until you take action to protect yourself in some way, even if it means removing yourself from a situation. So for example, it might look like a friend insists on getting into political arguments whenever you’re together and this causes you a great deal of stress. Once you let your friend know how you feel when this happens, you can simply let your friend know that you’re no longer available to engage in these conversations.
One of my own personal bottom line boundaries is that I absolutely need and want to meditate and journal immediately upon waking. So I set a boundary that I won’t communicate with anyone until I finish my meditation and my journaling. This is true when I am at home alone, this is true when I am around other people. I make the choice about when to open myself up to the outside world.
Another one of my own bottom line boundaries is not allowing smoking in my house and not allowing or making myself available to mean spirited criticism. I have a client, Anna, who has a bottom line boundary that she won’t remain in the room when her brother-in-law goes into one of his classic fits of rage. And I have another client, Alex, whose bottom line boundary involves refusing to answer his sister’s nosy questions about his personal life.
So you can see that the degree of boundaries varies. And that’s why I’m inviting you to begin crafting your own Boundary Pyramid, putting the boundaries you know you’d like to set if you were ready to set them, into specific categories. And part of this is really the way that you can begin crafting your own boundary inventory. It’s a chance for you to evaluate where you are with your boundaries before you venture into setting them.
A really important, essential, piece of wisdom I offer you here is to remember that you do not ever have to set any boundary that you are not comfortable setting. In other words, we all have our own timeline. We all have our own process, and it’s most important, it’s critical, that you allow yourself to identify your boundaries and then set them in your own timeframe.
it’s really important, as I was saying before, to write down all the boundaries that you would set if you felt you could. This is a critical moment in the process, so don’t short change yourself. Really be brave. Write down every unset boundary and allow yourself permission to begin setting the simple ones first. And like I said, the good-to-have or the cherry on top boundaries are great practice for your bottom line boundaries.
Now of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and I have lots more about boundaries in my book Setting Boundaries Will Set You Free. So if you have not grabbed your copy of that book yet, I highly encourage you to do so. I include all the details and specifics about the Boundary Pyramid, as well as specific scripts you can use when you decide to verbalize your boundaries. Because remember, not all boundaries need to be verbalized. All of your boundaries are between you and you, first and foremost, even if they involve another person.
So it’s most important when you’re setting your boundaries is knowing that you, and only you, are responsible to uphold them.
Thanks so much for tuning in today. I hope that this conversation about the Boundary Pyramid has helped alleviate some fear knowing that boundaries arise in very different degrees and you can begin with the easiest ones to set to prepare you for the harder ones.
Thanks so much for joining me today on Your Permission Prescription. For even more, I invite you to head on over to nancylevin.com and sign up for my newsletter, The Practice, and follow me on social media. If you’ve enjoyed this episode and want to support our podcast, please subscribe, leave a rating and a review. See you next time.