Boundaries. Ugh, what a subject!
I don’t know about you, but boundaries are something I find are so critical to having a balanced, joyful, and sane life. Setting boundaries, however, is easier for some of us than for others. If you’re like me - if you’re someone who’s helpful, who’s caring, and who wants to be supportive to others - sometimes boundaries can be difficult and challenging to have and to maintain.
There are two aspects of boundaries.
The first part is actually determining what they are, and the second part is maintaining and reinforcing them! I realize that determining your boundaries is a journey in and of itself, because sometimes we just get sucked into the patterns of life, life’s demands and what other people are demanding of us. Those are the things we automatically react to, and that’s understandable. But have you actually stopped to think, “Wait, what are my needs? What boundaries do I need to carve out for myself?”
Trust me, I’ve had to take stock on that multiple times, especially during the pandemic because my boundaries have shifted. For example, one area where I have admittedly gotten good at setting boundaries is with work in teams and projects. I’m realizing where I need to carve out time for myself because I cannot be everything to everyone at all times. I used to think I was “Superwoman,” but let me tell you...I am not. At one point, I felt super productive, and it was great. I was on Zoom calls for eight hours a day, and felt amazing. I’m telling myself, “Yay! I’m getting so much done!” But I was literally collapsing at the end of the day, and I realized it was time to re-navigate some boundaries.
And guess what; we get to create new, improved boundaries, for ourselves! We get to say, “This is where I draw the line. I’m not doing a call before or after such and such a time, I’m not taking appointments on these days…” It’s so important to set those boundaries for yourself - not just at work, but at home and with family and friends, too!
So, first of all, are you actually taking some time to figure out what the boundaries are that you need to set? Some of them we already have, we just need to reinforce them. But I invite you to take time, think through your life and create new boundaries that serve you. You have permission to create new boundaries for yourself as they come up, and you see fit.
The second part: once you create boundaries, you’ve got to reinforce them. There’s no point of having a boundary if you don’t actually stick to it.
Here’s the thing...we are constantly creating and reinforcing unconscious agreements with people. Sometimes we set agreements that let people know, “Oh, I’m going to say this is my boundary, but it’s okay for you to come up with this or that reason to cross it, and I will break my boundary for you.” Instead of boundary crossing being the exception, it becomes the norm. I see this a lot with mothers - many moms have unconscious agreements with their kids. We try to set boundaries, but our rules are always tested. “I’m setting a boundary here, but if you do this and this, I’m going to break my boundary for you.” The kids see and learn that, and then we get stuck in these cycles that no longer serve us.
So, sticking to your boundaries is the super-tough part. But listen up...because here’s where the gold lies. When you set a boundary and stick to it, you’re not just gifting yourself the grace of actually being able to receive from whatever benefit comes from boundary that you’ve set, but you’re also retraining these agreements. You are shifting the relationship that you have with others where they learn to respect you and your boundaries.
Let’s go a little deeper...
Why don't we create the boundaries that we need? Because we’re afraid.
We think, “Oh my gosh...what are people gonna think? Are they gonna judge me? Are they not gonna like me anymore? Are they not gonna love me anymore?” I know the fear of disappointing others may set in right here, but I encourage you to think about the price you’re paying by not setting and maintaining those boundaries. What are the challenges that you are experiencing? Are you setting up co-dependent relationships? Are you not empowering others to give them the space to actually rise up to where you need them to step up and support you? Whether that’s colleagues, family, friends...what’s the price you pay by allowing your boundaries to be broken?
And here’s another thing…(this is where we get really deep):
If you are not maintaining those boundaries for yourself, why is that? What are you getting out of not maintaining those boundaries? When we don’t do the things that we actually want and say we need to do, there’s something you’re getting out of that. Here’s where it takes looking at the heart picture to discover the truth of the situation - where you’ve got to get deep and honest with yourself.
For example: when I was breaking my boundaries and allowing people to create meetings during the time I had carved out for myself, there was something I was getting out of that. My boundary I created was, “I will not do more than two meetings back-to-back, and then I have to give myself a break.” But then people would say, “Oh, but this is important! I just need this quick thing...” And I would take those meetings.
What was I getting out of it? Truth is, I was feeling important. I thought, “Oh! But they need me! I’m the only one who can give this information. My work is so valuable, my knowledge is so valuable.” That’s why I was willing to break my boundary, because I was getting filled with a false sense of significance. Ask yourself, what internal voids are you filling by breaking your boundaries? A sense of being liked or loved? Acceptance? Significance? Let me let you in on a secret: when these items are filled authentically by the people that really matter, they won’t need you to break your boundaries to receive them. And if they do, you may want to reexamine your relationship with them!
What’s the cost you pay by breaking your boundaries?
Here’s the question - is constantly breaking your boundaries worth the cost that you’re paying? The cost of exhaustion, the cost of burning out, not having the time or energy for you, and the myriad of other costs that keeps building up? All you have to do is switch that cycle is to realize that it’s not. To think to yourself, “My worth and value are not from others...they are from myself. I don’t need to get that from others, I don’t need that validation, I don’t need that external value.” When we get to that point, that’s when it gets amazing...because creating and setting the boundaries gets so much easier.
So, let me hear from you. What are some of the areas where you were struggling to either create the new boundaries or to maintain the boundaries that you’re trying to set? Because it is possible. And on the other side of those boundaries is the ability to take care of yourself, to get the rest of the resuscitation or the enjoyment that you’re looking for. Because you do deserve it, and it’s waiting for you.
Until next time, here’s wishing you a great rest of the week, and I invite you to set a new boundary and maintain it!
(And please don’t forget to like, comment, and share this post if it touched or resonated with you!)