Calm Down – and Set Strong Boundaries

The Vital Skill Of Calming Down

Being able to recognize when we are becoming emotionally charged, and then having the skill and presence to calm ourselves down, involves a highly advanced set of skills, and it does not happen by accident. Where experienced and mature people seem able to control their emotions and calm themselves down, it has usually taken years of practice.

Keep an eye on YOU. Observing yourself in all situations is an important skill to have, so you can catch yourself very early in the process of getting wound up. The sooner you realize you are getting angry, anxious or upset the sooner you can take steps to calm yourself before things get out of hand. Remember the important piece of acknowledging your feelings.

There are many things you can do to stay calm. Withdraw from the conversation or situation. Take time to focus on yourself and breathe. No matter what the situation is, it is always OK to take time out to calm yourself. This is how to acknowledge and take care of your own feelings. Take responsibility for this and make your feelings a priority.

Learn some simple breathing and relaxation techniques and rehearse them BEFORE you need them.

Remember a driver doesn’t wait until a child has run in front of a car before practicing the emergency stop. Likewise, you will need to have practised these techniques before you need them so they will work for you when you do.

Once you are calm you might choose to let the other person know what is bothering you.

Communicating Assertively
If you do choose to communicate here are some important points to remember:

  • Stay calm.
  • Tell the person what you want to say – as simply and clearly as possible. Do not elaborate or bring in past situations. When stress and emotions are running high, it is harder for people to hear, and take in information.
  • Give the person the same respect that you would wish for, if the situation was reversed.
  • Allow them their response without reacting to it
  • Calmly repeat your initial point.

The ability to calm ourselves down is one of the most beneficial skills we can learn in relating. Being able to take ownership of our own inner reactions and feelings, is a sign of maturity. We don’t make our feelings be about the other person. All of this then allows us to choose a response which honors ourselves, and the other person, in the situation.

When we choose to set boundaries, we are letting the other person know our standards. So our boundaries are always about us, not them.

There is a Right Way And A Wrong Way To Set Boundaries.
We set boundaries around our personal standards in order to protect them. An example of a personal standard might be something that bothers you, or a standard you want to uphold.

Think of something, and turn it into a ‘standard statement’, such as:
“I don’t allow people reading over my shoulder”.
Once you have defined your standard, it is your job to let others know your standards – since they can’t read your mind.

This is called setting boundaries. It is about educating people how to behave around you – letting others know what behavior is acceptable in your space.

Remember, your standards are about YOU. Own them, and when setting boundaries use ‘I’ language. It is not boundary-setting to say things like “Stop that – you are annoying me” This makes the other person wrong without giving them any specific behavioral cues that they can change.

I speak to many clients who think they have set boundaries. They say “I’ve told him I don’t like it.” When in actual fact, they have only criticized the other person and made them wrong, without ever setting a clear boundary.

There are 6 stages to effective boundary-setting which are:

1.    Inform
2.    Request
3.    Educate
4.    Warn
5.    Demand
6.    Leave

At any point if you feel threatened, or you are getting ‘wound up’, you can leave – you don’t have to work through every stage, and you should certainly never put yourself at risk of mental, emotional or physical harm by struggling with someone who is obviously not listening to you.

Exercise: Using the example above (of not liking someone reading over your shoulder) how might each of the 6 stages above sound?
Create a sentence for each one.

Remember, be specific: this is about the behavior, not the person. Your standard is about you.

Practice boundary-setting with the small things first. Choose family or friends who you know will be easy about it to begin with. Don’t make the ‘all-or-nothing’ mistake. Many people sabotage their early boundary-setting attempts by choosing their boss, or most difficult work colleague or family member to begin with. That’s just crazy. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Start small until you have built up your skill level, before you go for the ‘big guns’!

By practising these techniques often we gradually improve our relating skills and experience a higher quality in our one to one interactions with others. Assertiveness, rather than making the other person wrong, can become a finely-tuned skill of mutual respect and regard.

With time and patience it allows us to hold the other person in a positive light while still recognizing and asserting the right to have our own needs respected and honored.


Soul Path Coach and Author Ruth Hadikin, specializes in supporting you on your own greatest adventure: as you find and express your purpose, passion, and unique Soul Path through self-exploration.

Life’s Greatest Adventure is the path of your Soul!

Sign up for Ruth’s newsletter “Life’s Greatest Adventure” and receive a free eBook: “So You Think You Can’t Meditate? A Beginners Guide To Meditation”

For personal support with communication and relating skills contact



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