Updated: Jun 10
Welcome back to Self-Care Sundays! Until September I will be doing a series of blogs to explore concepts of Self-care and personal development. Practicing Self-care should not be confused with being 'selfish'. Self-care should focus on being Self-centered (balanced mental, physical, and emotional health).
The topic this week is boundaries. What they are, how they work and my experience with them.
If you couldn’t tell by me moving across the world and travelling solo, I’m a very independent person. Alas, no person is an island. There places I want to go and things I want to do in life which will require me to rely on others. I’m a pretty democratic person so if ever there is a conflict I would try to compromise. The question where is the line drawn? When is it no longer compromising on this situation, but rather compromising myself or my ideals?
Over and over the advice was given to ‘establish boundaries’, ‘boundaries protect your energy’ etc etc. I found most advice about boundaries left a lot open for interpretation. My interpretation of what boundaries are is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. For a while I protected my boundaries like a Night Watchmen, shutting down anyone that attempted to breach my perimeter.
For a person who is prone to independence, I found this daunting and an undesirable exertion. I felt that I was struggling with boundaries. I didn’t seem to be making any progress. People taking my boundaries into consideration. Then I stumbled across this podcast earlier in the year and the host said something that gave me an entirely different perspective on boundaries.
“A boundary is never to change someone else’s behavior. A boundary is for you. It’s the action you will take if something happens that you have decided that you don’t want to be around.”
A boundary isn’t for them! It’s for you (me)! It’s the limits of what you are I am comfortable with. Once the tolerance threshold is hit, it’s my cue to remove myself from this situation.
As my wise friend Mikyba always says:
Once you realize your worth, you stop giving discounts.
That is great advice that I have used in many a situation (including actual salary negotiations lol). As it applies to boundaries, it’s understanding that a situation isn’t acceptable to me and I don’t have to deal with it.
The podcast used several examples but I’ll use the act of cursing for the purpose of this blog.
WHAT IS YOUR BOUNDARY
Establishing my boundaries required a great deal of Self-reflection. I had to know what I did and didn’t like. It will vary from person to person. I also had to dive into why it was a boundary for me. Is this a boundary for me because of a personal experience or is this an expectation that I have based on society?
What about cursing upsets me? Am I okay with others doing it around me? Do I just not want it directed at me? Do I simply choose not to curse?
Once I knew where I stood, it was easier for me to know when a boundary was being broached. It made it rather cut and dry when I was in those situations.
EXPRESSING YOUR BOUNDARY
Like I said earlier, everyone has their own tolerances. I am an advocate of open communication, so I’ve found it very helpful for me to tell people what my boundaries are. You don’t have to, but I like to give people the opportunity to understand my boundaries. Especially if I have previously allowed the behavior. You don’t have explain yourself. Simply say “Hey, I don’t do/like/say that anymore #growth” Some people will never ask what your boundary is (warning sign), so you may have to tell them that this is a boundary for you. I’ve found that most people are considerate, and expressing your boundary is rather anti-climactic.
Again, boundaries aren’t about controlling the other’s behavior. It’s about establishing what you will and will not tolerate. If I tell someone that I don’t like cursing, and they continue to curse like a sailor. I don’t have to say a word. I don’t have to make a scene. I simply remove myself from that situation. It is up to that person to decide whether they would rather be in my company or to continue practicing a behavior that offends me.
Your circle should be full of people who want the best for you. Intentions are great, but actions are better. When I established my boundaries I felt an energy shift. I found the people I was interacting with were ALL of the right types of vibes.
BEING COMFORTABLE WITHIN YOUR BOUNDARIES
Boundaries are a form of empowerment. Once I’ve identified a boundary, I become hyper aware when someone has crossed it. I would have moments of doubt like, does this warrant me to remove myself from this situation? Am I being too dramatic. I quickly realized the answer is no.
My gut/intuition/first-mind has never led me astray. My boundaries have nothing to do with them. If the roles were reversed, I’d respect their prerogative. It’s not far fetched to expect them to respect mine.
This is the space that I hold. If the people or environment doesn’t serve my best interest, I must remove myself from that space. I’ve had to get comfortable telling people what I am okay with and what I’m not okay with. For the most part people have been respectful of it even if they don’t understand.
Conversely, I have to accept that at times I may encroach on someone else’s boundaries. Hopefully, that person will express it to me and we can navigate each other’s boundaries. When we are comfortable with our boundaries, we actually create safe spaces.
There are many types of boundaries and varying degrees from close family to strangers. This is your boundary to protect your energy (Self-care). Your relationship with yourself is the foundation for everything you do in life. If you have done all this work to find what and why your boundary is, and yet you make concessions for people in your life, you are only compromising yourself.
As with all of my blogs, this is written from my experience with boundaries and what has worked for me. Hopefully there will be some helpful take-aways for you. Even if this definition of boundaries isn’t for you, I implore you research the topic on your own. It’s a twenty-minute podcast so if you don’t have time to listen to it now, you can listen to it while you are in the shower or on a commute. It’s a good listen.
Until Next Time,