July 18, 2021
Do you ever feel like you are constantly being pulled in different directions? Do you feel as if you never have a moment to yourself? Hi Friend. Looks like you’re in the right place. Let’s learn about boundaries.
This week’s topic is a doozy. I’m sure we’ve all heard of boundaries. Whether that be something you’re used to holding your word to or not, it is definitely an important part of your mental health. When discussing boundaries, sometimes we can be afraid. This is especially true when we aren’t used to standing up for ourselves or dislike conflict. I’m going to do my best to break down how to healthily set boundaries; including when it is appropriate to do so. This is a scary thing for those who have always rolled with the punches but I am here to help you navigate it. Setting boundaries is possibly one of the most important aspects in mental health and self love. Loving yourself isn’t always easy. If you start by taking small steps every day, eventually you will be a pro at putting yourself first. Don’t worry, we’ll start at the beginning. This is part one of this series, so stay tuned for more!
What are boundaries?
In short, they are described as follows: “…personal boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships. A person with healthy boundaries can say “no” to others when they want to, but they are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships. A person who always keeps others at a distance (whether emotionally, physically, or otherwise) is said to have rigid boundaries. Alternatively, someone who tends to get too involved with others has porous boundaries.” (TherapistAid.com) In Laymen’s terms, boundaries are lines drawn in the sand. “I do not like this,” or “Please help me by doing that,” are good examples of every day boundary-setting. If the thought of telling somebody how you really feel, you are not alone. People pleasing, or being a “yes man” is fairly common. Think of how socially accepted it is to run ourselves ragged with every minute of every day being filled with commitments. Often times these commitments aren’t even something we particularly want to be doing, most likely we feel an obligation to someone. This, in turn, exchanges our precious time for somebody else’s happiness (which isn’t always a bad thing!) When it becomes harmful, however, is when we walk on eggshells and are afraid to say no for fear of repercussions.
What makes a “people-pleaser?”
Why do we feel the need to always say yes? Well, here is the hard and fast truth. People pleasing has more to do with Nurture than Nature. According to Dr. Leonard: “…the compulsion to accommodate is conscientious and selfless, yet it can be self-destructive if taken to an extreme. This relational tendency may partially be driven by unconscious mechanisms rooted in an attachment relationship with a parent. Egocentric parents are often consumed with how they feel, and as long as their child feels similarly, the parent is fine. Yet if a child has a feeling that differs from the parent’s, the parent typically has two responses. He or she dismisses the child’s feeling, or punishes and shames the child for having a feeling that is different.”
I’m certainly not bashing anyone here – but if this resonates with you, I encourage you to take a step back and note these feelings.
No matter what your upbringing was, there is a chance that emotionally, all of your needs were not met. We live in a busy world full of busy people. Everybody is trying to stay afloat at all times, more now than ever. The important thing to remember is you control your own destiny. You do not have to repeat traumatic familial cycles. Just because you haven’t learned boundaries, doesn’t mean you can’t teach yourself.
Where do I begin?
The first step is always the steepest. At least, it looks that way from where you’re standing. I promise once we take that first leap of faith, the mountain won’t look so steep. The best piece of advice I can give is to listen to how you feel. When somebody asks you to add another project or obligation to your plate, take note of your initial reaction. Are you anxious? Worried? Mad at them for even suggesting it? I’m betting you’ve felt at least one of those, if not all three. If this isn’t a life or death situation, even if the other person is acting like it is, you have time to decide. Whether that be five minutes or five days, it is important to think about how this added stress can be handled in your every day life. The first thing to come out of your mouth is probably going to be “sure!” But what if you said “I will let you know?” That’s the key. It buys you time to figure out where to fit this new obligation into your already packed schedule without promising any commitments. Try this next time and see how you feel.
Next week we will be taking another look at healing our inner child – a deeper dive than my last article on the subject. Friendly reminder that I take any/all suggestions at email@example.com.
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Thanks for reading, friends.
Veronica – Weekly Wellness