• Becky Upchurch

Non-negotiables

We often have things around which we have flexible boundaries. For example, I prefer not to do calls past a certain time, but I will if I feel I really need to. That’s a flexible boundary. But not taking client calls on Sunday mornings from 10-noon under any circumstances? That’s a non-negotiable. There’s a big difference between the two, and it’s important to know how these show up in your own life. If you’re not clear around your own boundaries, you can’t properly articulate them to others. One place you can start? Establishing what your non-negotiables are!

So how do you do that? Start by creating a list of your preferences (such as not taking phone calls during family time, now working certain days or hours, not engaging with people who speak in certain ways, etc.) Then ask yourself, “Is there ANY circumstance where I will allow this?” If so, that’s a boundary that may have various degrees of flexibility. If not, then that is one of your non-negotiables. So maybe no calls during family time EXCEPT in an emergency? That’s a boundary with a small bit of flexibility. Phones off during family time so NO calls are received for any reason? That’s a non-negotiable. And once you know what THOSE are, the better able you’ll be to navigate boundary-setting with others.

One non-negotiable I have discovered in my life is that I will not support perpetual victimhood. Now don’t get me confused, I have tremendous empathy for anyone going through a rough patch…and I realize that some patches are rougher and longer than others. But there are people out there who despite having MANY wonderful things to be grateful for are always looking toward the negative. Being around that is exhausting. More importantly, it begins to rub off on anyone in its vicinity. For me, life is WAY too short to get caught up in all that!

Does this mean that I confront the person, explaining to them that they are violating one of my non-negotiables and must stop or face the consequences? Nope. Does this mean I point out the positives or offer perspective in the hopes that I can help this person shift their thinking? Maybe. But you know what I DON’T do anymore? Guilt myself into listening to all the negative noise when I KNOW it’s not what I want to internalize! So maybe I shift the conversation to something else, or maybe I excuse myself from the conversation. In extreme cases, I may even distance myself or excuse myself from the relationship entirely. But I do it with as little DRAMA as possible, as my focus is never on changing other people to fit my needs but in knowing what my non-negotiables are and striving to live in alignment with them😊


So how do you do that? Start by creating a list of your preferences (such as not taking phone calls during family time, now working certain days or hours, not engaging with people who speak in certain ways, etc.) Then ask yourself, “Is there ANY circumstance where I will allow this?” If so, that’s a boundary that may have various degrees of flexibility. If not, then that is one of your non-negotiables. So maybe no calls during family time EXCEPT in an emergency? That’s a boundary with a small bit of flexibility. Phones off during family time so NO calls are received for any reason? That’s a non-negotiable. And once you know what THOSE are, the better able you’ll be to navigate boundary-setting with others.




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