Setting Boundaries. It all starts with you.
Sometimes we can find ourselves sitting there reaching for the courage to stand up for ourselves when we feel we have been wronged or disrespected. We show politeness in a time when we should be speaking out. Some speak out when they confuse respect for feeling offended. Our boundaries let others know how how to treat us.
I believe we focus too much on our boundaries looking outward at what others are doing which distracts us from the place we should really be focusing. Setting boundaries starts with ourselves. It might seem obvious to some but I have worked with many people over the years who were too concerned with what someone else was doing. As we take in information we are influenced by the world and allow it to rob us of what’s most valuable to us, our time. We get emotional over someone’s actions toward us which in turn disrupts our day throwing us off of focusing on what we should be doing.
Setting boundaries come easy for some and harder for others but why is that? It comes to very different circumstances that involve culture, parenting, personal experiences, and heartache. The experiences we have when we are younger start to shape our world and every new lesson either reinforces this or pushes us to grow.
I struggled for much of my teens and young adult life seeking approval and validation from my parents and peers. I would jump into a relationship as I suffered from the “rescuer syndrome”. This would leave me working to prove my self worth. I would allow people to talk down to me, demean me and take my emotional investment for granted.
It wasn’t until I met a man who would become my mentor teaching me the values of setting boundaries. He asked me what I wanted in life. No one really ever asked me that before. I can even recall my High School guidance counselor telling me I should just go to a community college and study finance versus going to art school. I replied to my mentor with an answer after a few mins and then he asked, “what do you really want, beyond that?” He was showing me that when I said I wanted a girlfriend who would value me what I really should be saying was “I am worthy”. I was focusing on something external when I should have been focusing on what I had to offer.
When we approach boundaries we must be prepared to understand that it has little to do with the outside world or other people. It has everything to do with how much we value ourselves.
SETTING THE FOUNDATION
Set some me time aside. You know, it’s that mythical 15 – 30 mins you’re investing in something that truly makes you happy. It could be going to the park alone and enjoying the fresh air. It could be a 20 min meditation. Set aside 15 minutes each day to yourself and have an idea set aside of what you want to accomplish in that 15 minutes. Is it to relax, gather your thoughts, read a book, watch a show? The more time you start to invest in your personal time, the more value you have in yourself. This also lets you begin setting a daily habit of having boundaries.
Detach from technology. I can’t stress this enough. Having 15 mins to yourself on the phone looking for memes isn’t going to do the trick. When we are awake, we are in a beta brainwave state where we are constantly absorbing information. When you’re on Facetube or Instashame you’re focused on something else, rather than yourself.
Don’t feel guilty about taking time for you. You’re going to surely feel guilty at some point or someone else might try to make you feel that way for doing something that is just for you. We have been conditioned over the years to feel guilty if we only think about ourselves and don’t consider other people. This comes naturally for some but with those struggling with boundaries, this can be a hard one. Investing in you is just as vital as any mindset matter if not the most.
Write down what you want and be clear about it. Most people jump to the things they don’t want in life. I don’t want an unthoughtful partner or I don’t want to say where I want to eat because everyone will probably reject it and then I’ll feel let down. Do you see how that just spiraled out of control? When we jump to a negative thought it leads to another and another. Think about what you do want. I want respect and I want tacos. I don’t care if it’s Monday, because I can just get a fancy margarita making it Monday margarita which will pair nicely with my tacos.
Write that down. Language as you know it is often taken for face value but there is so much more to saying what we want and how we want it and how we communicate. You’ll probably jump right to saying I want when there is so much more powerful ways of stating what you want in life that evokes emotion turning it into a commitment.
- “I want” As in I want tacos. vs
- “I deserve” As in I deserve tacos. vs
- “I will only tolerate” As in I will only accept tacos for dinner tonight. (Note: be mindful and respectful of others. This was only a point to stress. There is a rule of not being a complete arse.)
The way you phrase what you want emotionally triggers your desires and boundaries.
Self awareness. The next time something triggers you, offends you, angers you or evokes any kind of emotion I want you to think about that emotion and follow the thought as to why it makes you feel that way in the first place. It’s important for us to truly understand our emotions at the very moment we are feeling them. Did you go through a breakup and feel unwanted? Does that emotion have anything to do with your childhood and someone leaving you in any way? I didn’t say this was going to be easy but it’s going to be worth it. Get to know yourself more takes honesty which leads to you getting out of your own way.
Know the difference. There is a very big difference between being offended versus being disrespected. What offends people varies based on a myriad of factors. What is offensive to you could be perfectly acceptable in other countries. If someone belittles you then that is disrespectful. I could write for hours about this subject matter alone and will in another post but baby steps for now.
It’s ok. Accept what has happened and let it go. The past literally does not exist. You must be present at the moment to solidify new boundaries. If you keep looking backward and fail to find resolve at the moment then your new footing will be set on loose soil. Tell yourself it’s ok. Harboring any old emotions keeps us anchored to our old beliefs and boundaries making current ideas unstable.
Don’t get hung up and be angry at yourself for letting people treat you the way you have. We’ve all been there. Remember to love yourself and forgive yourself. If something was your fault in the past make peace with it. You’re here now and the only thing that matters is moving forward.
I want to take a brief break because as we move along you might notice a lot of self development in this article. You’d be right to deduce this much because when it comes to setting your boundaries you must be able to be confident in who you are above all else and know what you want for yourself.
YOU 2.0 AND IT LOOKS GOOD
Stop giving a fu*k about what others think, unless… Did I just go there? You bet I did. Wait! There is a right way to do this and a wrong way. There are two types of people in your life, ones that add value and ones that don’t. Some people won’t care about your boundaries because they are too focused on themselves. So is it their fault that they don’t care or yours for letting them cross the line to your boundaries? This isn’t a jab at you but a shift in perspective because the world will accept you at the value you present yourself as. If someone doesn’t care about your boundaries, then why do you care about their opinion? If someone doesn’t add value to your life then why do you value the why do you compromise? Do you keep quiet out of politeness because you’ve been taught to be well mannered and obedient? When you receive honest criticism from someone who adds value or insight that helps you grow or get better, that’s when it matters and when should care.
Upgrade your circle. There is no doubt you’ve had friends for many years. Your family and friends ultimately want the best for you in the way they think it would be best for you. That doesn’t mean they won’t support you, but what matters is that you identify who your absolute cheerleaders are and who are those that just want to be overprotective of you. Looking to make new friends or outgrow those closest to you doesn’t mean you’re a bad person by replacing your time with others that want to see you succeed and will help you along the way. You don’t have to go on weekend trips with new colleagues but it’s important to find an expert in where you want to grow in life and people that share the same drive.
Own it. This is where you make a commitment. I want you to go back over everything up to now and repeat it 108 times. I want you to tell yourself what you want over and over again until you can feel what your new boundaries are and what you will accept. If you want respect then tell yourself “I want respect, I deserve respect and I offer respect to anyone because I believe in respect.” This mindset frames you to be the living embodiment of what you most desire. It also holds you accountable to walk the walk.
STAND YOUR GROUND
So you’ve done the work and it’s time to embrace the new you and then comes Uncle Phil with his negative attitude because his dog ate his favorite $10 flip flops he got on sale and he knows he could take it out on you because deep down he is unhappy with his own life. Ok massive run on but you get the point as I am sure you have come across someone like this.
Don’t say a word. But Jus, you told me…. I know what I said but the best thing about defending yourself is not doing it at all because you have nothing to prove to anyone else. Change the situation by choosing not to engage, dismiss yourself or modify the experience any way you can because its what you want to do.
Be assertive when it comes time. You might not win over everyone and that’s ok. Remember this is about you, not them. You’re not pitching on Shark Tank and if you were, that’s a circle of insight one might value. Being ok with not getting it right all the time is another art form we will go over another day. Own your ideas, your views, your beliefs. Anytime I begin a conversation no matter how sure I am, I always leave a probability of 10% I could be wrong and might learn something.
Be direct. If you engage in a conversation with Uncle Phil then say what you need to say in the shortest way possible. When you do this, you leave fewer gaps for someone to pick it apart. The more you talk, the less you believe in what you’re saying.
Don’t look back. You’ll have a natural urge to revert back when someone can’t handle the new you and if you feel this is happening to go back to the very first item on this list and repeat. When we are ever feeling less than, tell yourself it will be ok and go back to what matters and that starts with the love and commitment you made to yourself to set new boundaries.
Your life as you make it is well, that as you make it. Finding your boundaries means finding yourself and all that you stand for. When you live with principles you live empowered and free. You’ll be surprised what you’re made of when you get rid of what isn’t adding value in your life.
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