The Fundamentals of Boundaries & Why You Need Them
Lately, I have been reflecting on a lot of the relationships I have in my life. Whether it’s romantic, friendship, or even business - trying to be present in understanding these connections I have developed over the years, has been quite a challenge. If you’re anything like me, you probably know the zodiac signs to those that are closest to you and can probably list several traits off the top of your head to describe the dynamic you have in that relationship. Then you realize as you navigate through adulthood, comprehending your relationships is more than star alignments, but actually requires work.
Let’s take friendships for example. Whether you have several friends or only a close few, it’s most likely that you have a certain friend to meet a specific need. A girlfriend you can chat with about the latest episode of Insecure, or perhaps a co-worker you unload about the nuisance of your manager. You get my drift, there’s almost a friend for everything. Now the problem I face, like most, is establishing what my threshold of, what my mother and I like to call it, too much peopling.
There are more times than I would like to admit that I come across relationships that are emotionally and mentally taxing. As a result, this takes a toll and I often time find myself shutting down and secluding myself in my shell (of course a natural Cancer tendency), as a coping mechanism. I get it, everyone goes through it, those moments when you feel like you’re just burning your self out and spreading yourself too thin and as result start dodging people and end up being looking like the shitty friend no one wants. But, listen, if this pandemic has taught me anything it’s the importance of understanding, creating, and implementing BOUNDARIES. Written in The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown explains, “When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice”.
Boundaries are about, finding a way to be generous towards others while continuing to stay in your integrity. It’s staying true to yourself and grounded while also feeling compassion towards others. It’s so easy to get lost in relationships and friendships when clear boundaries are not established. Understanding what's ok and what's not ok, is essential to the process of getting to know more about yourself, almost like a self-care task.
How many times have you had a hard time telling someone “no”. Just a flat out “no” “not happening” “not today, not tomorrow” just a straight “no”. Then as a result you’re stuck into obligations and situations that you don’t want to be a part of or serve you no purpose. To this day, this is something I constantly battle with, but I am learning this way of thinking can lead to resentment towards something or someone that would normally bring joy.
Setting clear boundaries sends a message to yourself and to others that you have a strong sense of self-awareness and self-respect. The more clearly you communicate your boundaries, the more you can remain generous to others and simultaneously true to yourself. A few tips I’m implementing that may be helpful to you are:
You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. Identify your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limits. This will take time, and a lot of self-reflection but consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. Setting a limit can feel scary, but it can also feel empowering.
Society has conditioned us to believe that from young, emotions are a hindrance. From “big girls don’t cry” to “man-up” we have been made to believe that tapping into our emotions can cloud our judgments. The reality is when we commit to emotional wellness and willingness we understand that emotions instead are signals informing us that something is happening to and/or around us letting us know that we need to take action and choose the best behavior that will move us closer to our desired goals of success.
Making your self-care a priority allows you to give yourself permission to put yourself first. What self-care may look like for you can be very different from another person, but I think we live in a generation where the idea to care for self has been trending. Self-care is more than treating yourself to materialistic items and getting a manicure, self-care is recognizing the importance of your feelings and honoring them.
Give yourself permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them. That can look like being assertive and learning when and how to say “no” without the fear of feeling guilty. Far too many times we believe that we should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because we’re a good daughter, girlfriend, or wife. Once we can grasp the concept of boundaries are a form of self-respect, we soon learn that it’s not enough to create boundaries; we actually have to follow through.
“When you avoid conflict to make peace with other people, you start a war within.”
I'll be transparent and honest to say, that some, if not most, the dynamics of the relationships around me have changed, and I honestly believe that's the point. If we’re constantly growing as individuals, I believe we should want the same for those around us. Now as a mother, of two, I am really big on having my time respected and preserving my energy mainly for my children but as well for myself. I’m always trying to find ways to avoid burning myself out and at the same time being compassionate to those that mean the most to me. This is a ram-packed topic, and I will love to revisit it in the future, as I am constantly learning and applying - but in the meantime, I would love to know what do healthy boundaries look like for you?
Love & Light,