by Madeline Laughs
There are all kinds of personal boundaries. There are emotional boundaries and physical boundaries, ones you make based on how you feel or ones that you make because it’s the smart thing to do. All kinds! You’ve probably been making personal boundaries for a long time and just never knew there was a name for what you were doing. Personal boundaries are created every time we go through some kind of emotional or hurtful time and they are our way of making sure it never happens again.
The problem here is that not knowing we have just made a personal boundary, something we can enforce and continue to use to protect ourselves, means it is forgotten about the minute we feel safe again.
Now that you know that, let’s figure out how to make boundaries when we aren’t in a heightened flight or fight situation. Let’s learn how to make limits so what we just went through, or what we keep going through, stops happening to us. With a boundary already in place, there’s slim chance of a repeat and this boundary will be stronger simply because it was made with a clear head.
Where do we start?
First I think you need to define yourself and your own heart. Think about your needs, whether it’s from others, professionally, romantically or in general.
1. What makes you happy?
2. What do you need in order to feel proud of yourself?
3. Do you feel out of control with your life? What would make you feel more in control?
4. What does having other people in your life mean to you? How important is it in order to be happy?
Having people in our lives is important. Humans are social beings. However having people in our lives to the detriment of our own life is not healthy. If you are a people pleaser, then expect to have many unhappy moments. People pleasers are constantly sacrificing their own happiness in order to make other people happy.
Think about the people that are close to you now and answer the following questions.
1. Does this person make me happy more often than they make me sad?
2. Do they make me feel proud of myself?
3. Do they celebrate me?
4. Do they give back to me as much as I give to them?
5. Am I often resentful of them because I feel ignored?
Think about your answers and if you were honest and your answers made you feel a twinge of anxiety, then it’s time to set a personal boundary for yourself in your close relationships with people. Being a constant giver and never getting anything remotely satisfying for your efforts means you are a people pleaser.
You need to start turning all of that love you’re passing around so freely with people that could care less about it, back on yourself. You need to start loving yourself and taking care of yourself. Here are some basic tips on how to start learning how to self-care.
1. Learn how to say “No” when you really don’t want to do something. Practice grace and acceptance when someone says “No” to you as well.
2. When you open that catalog, think about what you want to buy for yourself first. Then buy it. Spoil yourself for a change.
3. Start an exercise routine, eat healthy and start taking care of your body rather than abusing it.
4. Don’t tell all of your secrets. I know it feels good to share, but share yourself with people that reciprocate. Don’t feel like you have to tell a stranger everything just to make them like you, because trust me, it doesn’t make them like you at all.
5. Separate your own feelings and thoughts from others. Be an individual and realize that you are unique, as is everyone. Another person can not complete you, no matter what Jerry MaGuire said. You can learn how to stand alone, be independent and healthy, all on your own. You don’t need anyone else in order to do that.
The easiest way to start setting healthy boundaries and keeping them is to find other people that support your efforts to change your behavior. If there are people in your life that poo-poo your progress or belittle your new life path, then those are not people you need to have around you. If someone can not respect your personal boundaries then chances are good that they have never respected you. Is that someone you think you can continue to have close? Is that someone you want as a friend?
Once you start this process you will find all kinds of trespassers. There will be people in your life that you never even suspected of being harmful that will show their true colors once you start putting your foot down. It will feel like a veil has been lifted and that you are truly seeing your life for the first time.
It might feel like you’ve surrounded yourself with toxic friends, but that’s only because the ones that are toxic are closest to you out of your own bad habits. We all draw unhealthy sorts to us for whatever reasons. It doesn’t mean we have to continue being around them.
Even though letting some of them go will be painful at first, you have to do that in order to take care of yourself. You will grieve what you thought was friendship, but this won’t last long. Once you see how much time you just freed up to start taking care of yourself, once you wake up one morning and those old feelings of anxiety and low self esteem aren’t there to start your day, you’ll be glad you walked away from them.
You’ll also see that the unhealthy and draining sorts will keep coming around. They won’t just disappear because you made a boundary. Your new shining light will bring them closer all the time. The difference now is that you can see them for who they really are and you can protect yourself from them.
I’ll be talking more about this subject in future posts. In the meantime, get to work on taking care of yourself and make some healthy boundaries. This season make the gift you give, be giving yourself back to you.