Boundaries are hard.
It takes a lot of courage to stand up for ourselves and to be honest about our needs and limitations. It’s counter cultural and our insides scream that it’s selfish. But the facts are, it is so so important and imperative to our wellbeing to do it anyway. Having boundaries is not just saying “I matter”, but it’s living like we matter. It is about being honest with ourselves and listening to the inner voice that says too much, I can’t, instead of sucking it up and running ourselves the ground.
I’m constantly learning how to do this well in my own life and I’ve been talking to friends who are either brand new or are seasoned boundary setters.
Here’s what we want you to know:
We just need you to respect us. That’s it. You probably won’t understand why we have some of the boundaries that we do, but PLEASE don’t try to convince us. This is hard work to voice our needs and we need you to trust us to be the best experts for ourselves.
Don’t take it personally. It is never our intention to hurt or disappoint you; never ever.
Don’t compare yourself to us. Just because something is okay for you does not mean it’s okay for me. Please don’t ever assume you “know better”. Ask questions to understand, not to change our minds.
It is vulnerable to set boundaries. We might put on a strong front, but really we are showing you our weakness and our “true selves” when we are brave enough to say no.
We’re not doing it because we don’t care. One of the hardest parts is seeing a need and not being able to fill it.
People placing boundaries need support, not opposition. Over all, most people need to take better care of themselves. We need to say a lot more NO’s, so our yes’s can be sure and sturdy and full of life.
So let’s support each other in the process. Let’s be celebrators of each other’s boundaries.
We will respect your boundaries too. You take care of you, I’ll take care of me. No one will ever fully understand what you need like you will, and vice versa, so please help us understand you. We promise to be respectful of your “no”s and your “I can’t”s.
In case you’re curious, here are a few boundaries I’ve set for myself:
-I don’t do evening meetings unless it’s something I really want to do. I love evenings and dinnertime with my family and it’s important to me to have that most nights.
– I don’t fast and I don’t follow people on social media who do intense dieting. I know it isn’t unhealthy for most people, but for me as an eating disorder survivor it is. My commitment to myself is that I will never stop eating ever again.
-I try and do only one activity a day with the kids and I don’t say yes to more out of guilt or obligation. This one is a hard one for me, but I’m really working on it. I’ve realized busyness isn’t good for me or my kids and that it almost surely leads to meltdowns for them and lack of patience (bad parenting) for me.
-I run almost daily. At first it felt selfish and it still does somedays, but I push past that because it is so important for my mental health.
-I have close family and best friends, that means I prioritize them and am intentional about making time for them. What I give them is different from what I give “everyone”.
-If I’m in a close relationship with someone who doesn’t treat me well to my face or behind my back I will try asking questions and finding out if I’ve done something to offend them. If that is unsuccessful I will take steps back, not to hurt them, but because they are no longer safe to be vulnerable around. I get to decide who is safe for me and who is not.
-I limit my time around super negative or judg-y people.
Tell me, where are you with boundaries? What are some that you set in your own life?
Sister, I am with you.
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