Recently, a blogger sent a love note about boundaries and it made me think, I need to talk more about it. I will admit, I’m not the greatest person with boundaries BUT I have seen a huge improvement with it over the last two or three years.
One of my favorite bloggers, Cara Alwill, recently posted something to twitter and it said: “Setting boundaries is an act of self-love. Enforcing them is an act of self-respect”. Side note, she has a great post on her blog if you want to check it out. Anyway, it was such a powerful quote and it made me really reflect on the boundaries (or lack thereof) that I set for myself. That quote really got me thinking about the boundaries that I’ve set in life. We can have boundaries with our jobs, other people, and even ourselves.
We need to have our priorities together and ourselves should definitely be at the top of our priorities. That can be super hard for those of us who are people pleasers and for women in general because we’re care takers and we put so much of ourselves in other people that it’s easy for us to slowly lose ourselves and lose our minds in the midst of all of it. Nothing is worth the detriment of our mental health. Let me repeat that. Nothing is EVER worth the decline of our mental health. No job. No relationship. No family member. Nothing.
Boundaries in Relationships (friends, family, romantic). This is a tough one. I will not lie. If you’re anything like me, telling your family or close friends “No” is a struggle. Especially with the relationship aspect which I can definetly see where I made HUGE mistakes (I made HUGE mistakes telling my family no as well). Things that no self-respecting woman should put up with were crap I put up with. It was only because I didn’t see the value in myself. My self-worth was low and that was no way to live. No real man wants a doormat. It’s something I’m working on down to this day. I remember I slipped up with someone I was talking to. I explained to him that I didn’t feel comfortable sending sexual photos because someone has betrayed me before. He proceeded to pretend to care then not even 10 min. later, he asked me for sexy pics. I was so mad at him and you would think that made me kick him to the curb. Spoiler alert it didn’t. I continued talking to him and sent him a sexy pic or two and I felt awful. I let myself down. I cried and called myself an idiot. Something that I told myself I would never allow, I did. Talk about a disappointment. I eventually mustered up the courage to just kick him to the curb, after explaining that I wan’t someone who was there for sexual gratification of course.
Boundaries with friends is the same thing with family. If you have a toxic friendship, that is awful. You shouldn’t be friends with someone who would talk bad about you behind your back. You don’t need to be friends with someone who will put you down any and every chance they can get. You don’t want a friend who will use you and abuse you. That is a no go! Just because you’ve been friends for a long time or if you’ve known each other since you were children or just younger in general don’t mean you have to be friends with them. People change. If they was a messed up friend to you when you were younger and they’re still horrible, let them go. If you want to salvage the friendship, things have to change and that means you need to set boundaries.
Think about the type of friendship that you have. If your friend is better for going out to brunch than for being someone who has your back when you’re down, then there’s that. If your friend has shown you time and time again that you can’t depend on them, stop depending on them. Acknowledge who they are that way you won’t get your hopes up.
You have to set boundaries when dealing with a significant other.
Boundaries with our family is tough. It’s really hard to say no to our family. Some may guilt us into doing something. Others just do what they saw their family do and therefore continue that vicious cycle.Whatever the reason, we need boundaries with our family. I remember I allowed family to put things in my name when I knew for a fact that they would not keep up with the payments. Why? To prove to them I wasn’t selfish. Can you believe that? Them aiding in my poor credit just because I didn’t want to be perceived as “selfish”. I also remember having days off and people taking that information as that’s a day for me to run errands for them or to do something for them. Like no, it’s my day off and I will spend it how I see fit. I don’t mind doing favors from time to time but don’t take my day off as an opportunity for me to do stuff for you. At least ask. People will take and take and take and will leave you feeling depleted.
According to Allure magazine and Brit + Co., here are some tips when setting boundaries with family(and friends):
- Be prepared to say “No” more than once. Stay consistent.
- Go to therapy. You will learn more tools say no and you can express your frustrations or success when giving your family (friends) boundaries.
- If they refuse to accept your boundaries even after explaining (and reminding) why, you may have to spend some time away from that person and come back later. If they still don’t understand, then only you can know the next step.
- If you decide to cut the relationship with the friend or family member, explain why. Don’t just drop them with no reason. How else can they improve?
- Consider your history together. If this is a new thing that they’re doing, take that into consideration but if they have always been like this and has been showing that he or she wasn’t being a good friend (or family member) then it can show you how to move forward.
- Pause and reflect. Sometimes you need to cool down before you say or do something you regret.
- Address the issue when it comes up. For example, if a friend is running late or not respecting your time availability, address it right then and there. That way it won’t seem like this issue isn’t coming up randomly.
- Remind the person that you’re not their therapist. It can be emotionally draining when someone comes to you all the time with problems and vice versa. One question I love to ask is, are you emotionally available for me right now? People really appreciate it!
Boundaries with your job. Working from home has caused another issue that some did not see coming, knowing when to shut off. Since people are home, it’s easy for that line to blur and before you know it, you’ve been working for most of your day. Even when you have to go into your job and you’re not working from home, bringing work home or staying super late can drain the heck out of you. This was a lesson I learned the hard way. When I would try to do all the things at work, I was more angry, I ate terribly, and it really affected my sleep. When I decided to leave whatever I didn’t get done for the next day, it was like a ton of weight was lifted from my shoulders. I was less stressed and more present.
One thing that helped me was to make a list of really important things to get done. One piece of advice that I got from the Skinny Confidential Him and Her Podcast was to make a list of six task that are really important. Then rank those six items from the most important to the least important. For that particular day, focus on the top three and save the bottom three for the next day and then add three more items to that list. That way you get the most important things done first and you’re not overwhelmed.
I’m not sure if there’s such a thing called balance.I believe that there are some items that takes precedence over others. A podcast called Teaching to the Top talks about glass and plastic balls. The idea is this: that for a task that you don’t get to, if you drop the ball on it and it doesn’t break, then its a plastic ball so it should be pushed back. Whereas for glass balls, if you don’t get to that task and it breaks, then it can throw everything off and it would be detrimental. Now the glass and plastic balls will shift from time to time. Ask yourself, if I don’t get this done asap, will I lose my job? Or if I did this task, will that take time away from my family or my mental health?
No job is ever worth your mental health. If I’m being realistic, there are just some times when I have to bring work home but I make sure to not let it happen often. In fact, I do it once in a blue moon. If you have personal days, take them and don’t feel guilty about it either. If there’s a task you just can’t get to, leave it for the next day. You will not die.
Boundaries with yourself. We need to have boundaries with ourselves. It can help us to monitor our behavior and create healthy structures in our lives. If we determine that we can’t do something, then we can’t do it. Maybe you want to save money and so you set a budget that you cannot and will not go over. You’re working towards your personal goals and it isn’t something you can or should compromise. Another boundary with yourself that you could set is to not be on social media for a certain amount of time (I do this personally and rarely meet the limit). Your boundaries should reflect your priorities and your needs.
Setting boundaries with ourselves is not easy at all. It takes lots of grace and practice. The more we work on it, the better off we will be. Below are some tips to help build boundaries with ourselves from the site livewellwithshannon.com:
- Step 1: Identify different areas of your life that need structure or limits, such as finances, relationships, electronics usage, daily routine, physical health, nutrition, emotional health, and so forth.
- Step 2: Create boundaries that reflect your goals and values.
- Step 3: Don’t try to set too many boundaries all at once. Setting boundaries is a process and trying to make too many changes at once can backfire.
- Step 4: Use compassionate accountability. It’s counter-productive to expect perfection and blast yourself for not holding all of your boundaries all the time. When you struggle with a boundary, be gentle with yourself. Being too harsh or unrealistic with yourself leads to shame, hopelessness, and giving up. Explore the reasons for slipping up, adjust your boundaries, if needed, and make a plan to improve.
- Step 5: Make incremental changes. Often it’s helpful to adjust your boundaries incrementally. For example, if you’re trying to go from snacking all night long to not eating after dinner, move your timeline back by 15 minutes at a time until you reach your goal (no eating after 9:00, then no eating after 8:45, and so forth).
Hell, even in the Sesame Street song, The Word is No, there’s are powerful lines (when you think about it) that says: “We’d be worse off without it, no doubt about it/Stand up and shout it No…”. Like a song meant for children is schooling us on the power of the word no. People will call you selfish and honestly, that sounds like a personal problem.