What are boundaries?
Boundaries are about you,, not anyone else. These are your personal boundaries. You need to set boundaries for yourself, based on your values and morals. Setting your own boundaries comes from a place of empowerment. It involves you deciding what you participating in and who with. Learning to say no and realising no is a full statement and full sentence. No requires no explanation! Looking for approval is a human trait, we need approval from our peers, relationships and family. Codependency (See last week blog post) and people pleasing is not setting your boundaries, that’s why learning what you want and what you are prepared to put up with is so important. Remember being in a toxic relationship is not good for you or the other person.
How to set boundaries?
- Let go of your guilt.It’s ok to be yourself. To say no and yes to different people and situations. Guilt can tie us down, make us do things we don’t want to do. It’s time to let that go. It’s okay not to do something for someone. Like always being the great neighbour that babysits for others, not take that phone call from your parent right when your favourite program is about to start. Guilt can eat you up inside, no one is making you feel guilty but yourself. To help you stop I suggest you begin to write down when you feel guilty and about what. Now look at this list one item at a time and reevaluate whether you would expect someone else to do these things for you? Can you let them go? Can you stop feeling guilty about not doing something? Are you suppose to do it in the first place or is it someone else’s responsibility? Hand it back to them if it is.
- Learn Self-care.Extremely important if you want healthy boundaries is the art of self-care. Please look over my blog for the posts on self-care and self-soothing. If you are not taking care of yourself you can not look after anyone else! You will only burn out that way. Then who will look after you? Learn why you are now looking to make healthy boundaries for yourself. You need to identify what you are doing this for? It can be a reminder to keep going when the going gets tough. Write it down, put it where you’ll see it as a reminder, Journal about your progress.
- Learn to say NO!This involves not just with family, friends, work but also in relationships. Relationships should develop naturally over time and not involve you being pushed into something you are uncomfortable with. Trust yourself and your gut here. If you feel uncomfortable, then you are having your boundaries pushed beyond what you find acceptable. Sometimes you have to say no for a while until you get comfortable with it, then you can learn when it’s okay to say yes. remember you don’t have to apologise for saying no nor do you need to explain!
- Know what you want in life and don’t be afraid to ask for it!What are the basics you will settle for? Respect – yourself, others? Relationships -with work colleagues, family, significant other? This could be an endless list of what you find as acceptable behaviour from yourself and other. So go ahead and make that list. Start with different areas of your life – work, friends, family, children if you have any, significant other, health, home – yes home the physical location, building etc, what do you want and what do you have already and where does it fall short?If you take these areas first you can see where your boundaries are being encroached upon. If you don’t know what you want you at least should know what you don’t want! Next, learn to ask for what you want. If you’re afraid someone will leave you, ask yourself are you really settling for someone who deserves you in their life? Start small, ask for something from someone, say no to collecting the child for the neighbour, don’t answer the phone to your parent every day -particularly if you find them draining. Draining people are negative people you might want to reassess your relationships with them, its okay to let them go.
- Don’t control others.You can’t control anyone but yourself. You can’t make anyone happy, You can’t make their day just perfect. Other people are responsible for their own boundaries, their own decisions, their own lives. It’s time to let those people grow-up and take responsibility. You are doing them no favours by taking on their responsibilities.
- Only apologize for what you did wrong NOT what someone else did.Similarly to control, if you have codependency you tend to say sorry for everything and everyone even when you’re not at fault. Learn to say sorry only for your own mistakes.
- Use a calm voice.If someone is upset about how you are changing that’s on them not you. You don’t have to put up with someone else’s anger, hang up the phone, close the door, walk away. Remain calm. You said no! That’s ok, you don’t need to repeat yourself! If you feel unsafe trust your gut, get out, stay out and look to your support system
- Have a support system
Not everyone will be in your support system. You need to have some trusted advisors e.g. doctor, therapist or a very close friend or family member. Make sure you know the person well before confiding in them. You should be very comfortable with them, know they have your best interests at heart at all times. Make a list of these people and add them to your self-care kit for bad times and days.
- When learning new boundaries you might need to keep a tight reign on them at first.It’s better to start off with more rigid boundaries that can expand than have ones that you need to contract. We need to see some good results, we always need a win early on when making changes. So remember to start small if needed, stay safe, start from where you’re at in life. If anyone violates your boundaries you need to be calm but assertive as soon as possible at the time. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you and get away with it. Remember this is the new you, with new boundaries in place.