Don’t Give to Much of Yourself Away
When we think of “boundaries,” we think of restrictions and constraints—rules you must stick to.Truth is you can set boundaries, based on values important to you, and live truer to who you are.
Without boundaries, you’ll often find yourself acting from a place of fear, resentment, and frustration with yourself and others. When you live by your rules, you’ll allow experiences and people into your life that will keep you happy and healthy.
Following patterns prescribed by others, you actually ignore what matters to you as an individual. By identifying what’s most important to you, you can set boundaries in your life that actually set you free.
How do you know if you need to set some boundaries for yourself?
Take a look and see if any of these sound like you:
You get really irritated when someone cuts you off in traffic, TV commercials drone on and on. You’ve been feeling more resentment than love toward those you care about lately. You’re consistently allowing other peoples’ needs to come before yours. Do you struggle to make decisions?
Is saying NO difficult and does it make you feel a lot of guilt and anxiety.
If you saw yourself in any of these, don’t worry—you’re human! However, these emotional responses tend to stem from a fear of failing. which does not have to rule our lives. You are enough, you are lovable, and you cannot fail just being you. Let’s look at how you can take some action to make your life more the way you want it to be.
How to Set Boundaries
Identifying what’s important to you will help you feel more freedom, productivity, and joy in your life.
1. Identify your values.
The simplest way to do this is to spend five minutes a day taking notes about what’s important to you.
2. Get down and dirty with your feelings.
Spend time being aware of how you feel: Every time you feel a heightened emotion brewing, tap into the situation. Rather than judging this emotion and yourself, be aware of where that feeling comes from. Having this awareness can help you identify the values that are most important to you.
3. Create boundaries that help you honor these values.
Develop boundaries that help protect your top values. Don’t put yourself in situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Even if it seems like the norm.
Make a list of boundaries you can set to help you better achieve your own list of values. Then, once you have an understanding of what boundaries you’d like to put into place, segment them out into three different categories: work, relationships, and self.
For work, you might have “make consistent space on the calendar for uninterrupted breaks.” For relationships, you could explore “schedule in regular date night.” And for self, you might prioritize “make time for fun each week.” Spend five minutes writing down the new boundaries you’d like to try out and bullet point the action steps to achieve them.
4. Be prepared for people in your life to not respect your boundaries.
Once we set boundaries, people are going to push them—it’s inevitable. So figure out what you want to do once that happens!
Let’s say you set a boundary about your schedule, saying that your work hours are for work and your after-work hours are for you, your family, and friends. But one family member always wants to talk on the phone during your workday. Knowing that this person is going to keep asking to talk on the phone during your workday, send them a message with the hours that you’re free. If you write down your planned responses, you’ll know exactly how to respond once the situation arises—and it’ll be a lower stress moment for you.
If your family member still urges the conversation, don’t give them an ultimatum, just gently state you still have time for them and remind them of the hours you’re free. Do this as many times as you have to! Along with the patience with yourself, have some patience with others. It may take a while for these new boundaries to be accepted, but what will ensue is a more respectful and balanced relationship.
If you give in to your family’s needs above yours, you may end up feeling resentful and frustrated with that family member. Stick to your boundaries, and both parties win.
5. Remind yourself you are allowed to have boundaries.
No one is going to love you any less because you have decided to respect yourself! In fact, you’ll find them loving you more. You’re setting boundaries that allow for growth and healthy relationships—and don’t we all want that? We all have a fear of not being loved, but healthy boundaries are fundamental to self-care. Without them, we often fall into burnout, resentment, and frustration because we allow others into our sacred mental and physical space.
6. Start with small steps.
The next time someone asks something of you that oversteps one of your new boundaries, remind yourself that you don’t have to say yes to them. If it feels hard at first and you give in, that’s OK—next time will be easier. If you do find yourself faltering, remember your values and why they’re important to you.
It sometimes helps to have someone that inspires you in mind—for example, I love Ronald Reagan and his leadership skills, so I’ll think of him and remind myself to stick to my guns and stay true to myself.
You could also have a reward system in place: If you find yourself honoring your boundaries for a week, you could buy yourself something to reinforce your positive efforts. Soon, defending your boundaries will become second nature.
I have found,although not easy, it is empowering to say NO!
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