On a coaching call today the topic of setting limits came up, especially with children living at home. I told my client that when I began practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) almost 20 years ago, my instructor provided me with a sign to hang on the doorknob of my bedroom where I practiced TM. It let anyone approaching know that I was busy and couldn’t be disturbed.

The first week or two I would hang the purple laminated sign on the knob and yell down to the kids, “I’m meditating now. Don’t bother me for the next half hour.” They didn’t.

I continued to hang the “I’m meditating” sign outside my door day after day. Until I realized that my kids immediately respected my wish and maintained that respect and quiet from Day 1. My shouting down to them and hanging out the sign was a reminder to me. I’m doing this. I deserve to take this time. I want you (Jane) to know that I (Jane) am doing a discipline that requires my focus. My family got it on the first try. It took me several weeks to notice that I didn’t need to repeat myself or try so hard.

On a designer house tour years ago I came upon an elaborately decorated upstairs bedroom with a 4-poster bed and canopy, a dozen attractively mismatched pillows and one very long rectangular pillow in front of the rest. It was needle-pointed with a one-word message: TONIGHT. (We asked the docent to show us the reverse side. It was also needle-pointed: NOT TONIGHT.)

When you set a limit, know that it is as much for you as for those around you.

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