7 Cups- Boundaries and Setting Expectations (part 3)
Why do we need boundaries?
Setting boundaries is very important for your own self-care, it can be a very big way to prevent burnout. A lot of listeners may do a lot of stuff at once, and then go on a self-care break to recuperate, but with setting boundaries, you can self-care along the way, and you might not need to take as many breaks!
How do we set boundaries?
I gave some examples of this in the previous steps, but in this step we will be going into more detail on how to set strong boundaries, and some common examples of situations where boundaries would need to be set.
One example I went into previously was setting a time limit; again, I recommend having at least 30-60 minutes to talk to each member, and I recommend only being in one chat at a time, so that you can fully focus on the member you are talking to. This boundary is important because it will allow you to have time to do other things during the day, and it will also allow for you to schedule chats in a timely manner. If the member is wanting more time, that is ok! You can schedule another session with them for a different day, with the same time limit set.
Another example is members wanting you to take chats/support them on something you do not take. This boundary is important because if you do not feel comfortable in a chat (like if the topic is triggering for you) or if you don't know how to support it, it is much easier to turn them away and ask them to find someone who is more equipped to help. I recommend keeping all the topics you take on your chat list, and listing any specific topics you don't support in your bio.
A third example would be if a long-term member is too dependant on you. This could be seen as them messaging you every day, constantly begging you to take more time to talk to them (aka, trying to break the time limit boundary you have set), or spamming you with messages while you are not online (and possibly getting upset that you are not responding). This is another reason why setting boundaries so early is important, as it will be much easier to enforce boundaries we have already laid out, rather than introducing new boundaries (though introducing new boundaries can still be done). In order to let the member know that you want some more boundaries, you can say something like 'hey! It seems like we might not often be online at the same times, and it seems like you are often messaging me when it is not our scheduled time to chat; I encourage you to get more listeners who can also talk to you at different times of the day, so that you have more support!'. Another example is 'I see that you are messaging me a lot, I just want to remind you that I'm not able to reply to these messages until our scheduled time to chat, if you're needing more immediate support during the days when we don't have a scheduled chat, you are welcome to find some other listeners who would be able to provide you with support!'
The last example I want to list here is if a member is asking you a lot of personal questions or trying to focus the chat on you (rather than them!). This is a fine line we walk; we want to remain professional, and not get too emotionally invested in the chat (as that could lead to burnout too!) but we also want to be able to empatize with the member and make them feel like we are relating to and understanding what we are saying. You can share personal stuff about yourself if you are comfortable (as long as it is within the site guidelines), but you never have to share anything you are not comfortable with. For instance, you can share things like your age, gender, and country you are living in (your country and gender may also be listed on your profile). You can also share certain things about your own personal situation, if you feel it might help the member feel like you relate. I usually do this by telling the member I have been through a similar situation, and maybe sharing a little blurb about that situation, while relating it back to them. For instance, for someone struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, I might say something like "I completely understand where you're coming from, I used to experience panic attacks a lot, they were really scary and confusing a lot of the time. What mainly triggers your panic attacks?' If the member wants to know more about your personal story and your experiences with the situatuion, and your comfortable sharing, you can go into more details. Again, try to relate it back to the members situation, as we are here for THEM, not us.