We’ve all been there, overwhelmed, giving everything to other people and it leaves us low. We give all our energy to those around us, our partner, friends, family, kids, work, colleagues, parents. Some of them more demanding than others, some of them are needy, and some of them are toxic.
We hear about self-care everywhere, it’s a buzz word all over social media and our friends are talking about it. We all know we need to do it but we all are confused wondering what it really means.
One area in that we hear about often is boundaries. Some confuse boundaries as being selfish however healthy boundaries allow us to have a stronger sense of wellbeing as we can protect ourselves from burn out as well as having stronger, healthier relationships.
What is a boundary?
Boundaries are the physical, mental and emotional limits we have in place with people and work so that they know our expectations. At a basic level, they protect us from being violated in some way.
They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Typically, our outer world boundaries are a projection of our inner world boundaries so if we accept too much and don’t have healthy boundaries, this tells us about our inner world and how we feel about ourself. Boundaries are powerful tools to ensure our wellbeing and mental health. While we mostly understand physical boundaries, we often do not understand emotional and conversational boundaries. They apply as much to each aspect of our lives.
Why is it important?
Boundaries are important because they set the standard of how we want to be treated, they are basic guidelines that we have in place at work and at home. The issue is that they are not always healthy and can then create difficulties in all areas of our life.
A lot of our behaviours stem from our values and belief systems that we formed in our early years. If we are not aware of the underlying values and beliefs that are driving our behaviours as we get older, this can easily stray into habits, actions, behaviours, and expectations that can cause a lot of issues for us as adults.
What can we do?
If we are really honest with ourselves, in what I can a meaningful conversation- we can identify within us what we need to heal to allow us to create healthy boundaries in our life. We can look at what we have come to accept, what we need to forgive and what we need to reject in our lives.
If we had an old mobile phone, we would upgrade it and yet we don’t realise that we can upgrade our way of thinking to. As we get older, these beliefs that we formed in childhood may not be serving us anymore and it may be time to address what needs to change in our belief systems and what behaviours we need to change to support our boundary setting.
If we pay attention, our bodies, our intuition tell us when our boundaries are crossed. I love the saying The body never lies! When we feel anxious, exhausted, low mood, low energy, shame, guilt, anger are all indicators when we need to question our behaviuours, our beliefs and our boundaries.
5 steps to creating healthy boundaries
- Be sure of you
When you are sure of who you are and what you want from your life, you will be clear on how you would like to be treated. Whether that’s from a parent, a child, a colleague or a stranger.
- Heal your inner world
We all have things in our past that have shaped our values and beliefs, our story which in turn sets the standards for our life and how we like to be treated, or what we tolerate. But we don’t need to live there. We can heal events, thoughts and experiences that no longer serve us. From being bullyed at school to being shy as a child to having a toxic relationship- whatever it is, we can let it go. You see there is no such thing as holding onto an event. The truth is that when it passes, the only place it then exists is in our minds, it’s the attachment, the emotion to the event that is the problem. And this can be identified, released and let go of.
Form relationships with people who make you feel good about yourself. The ones that lift you up and don’t drain you (you know who they are). Use your energy to guide you- who drains you and who recharges you and makes you feel warm and nice?
Communicating your boundaries is crucial. You can only expect what you accept. YOU have to show people how you’d like to be treated. And keep telling them until they know. If they keep breaking the boundaries, it’s because you let them. Saying no is a boundary. Not giving away all your energy is a boundary. Not sacrificing too much of your time for others is a boundary. And the only person that can decide what is right- is you.
- Stay firm
Sometimes this means cutting the toxic things and people from your life. Although this may seem easier said than done, when you realise how much better you feel for having and maintaining boundaries in your life and not having the toxic people, things and events pulling you down, you will realise it is SO worth it!