Last week we kicked off a brand new mini-series (man we are flying through them!) and this week we kick it off with part one, boundaries.
We all have boundaries but it’s whether we communicate them or not. Some may have lost touch with what our boundaries are, some maybe take a strong stance on where they draw the line, and some may not be able to voice their boundaries at all.
What Are Boundaries, And Why Are They Important For Our Self-Care?
Boundaries are like your own little invisible protection bubble. It’s the expectations and responsibilities that you yourself set for people that come into contact with you. It separates you from others and makes you individual. It is essentially your core set of values that others cannot cross, and it spans over many different aspects of your life. Such as, how you expect to be treated, where your personal space stops and starts, how you communicate your feeling to others and yourself. It's about what is acceptable for you to do for others, without feeling uncomfortable or being taken advantage of. It’s about knowing your own responsibilities, and that you are the sole driver in creating your own happiness. It is about looking after yourself, without feeling guilty, and so much more.
We all know that feeling… That hidden anger when someone crosses the line. But how many times do you voice it?
Here is a couple of examples; You keep getting behind at work because your colleague keeps giving you the work her boss handed to her for her to do. You get internally annoyed, but smile at her, take the pile of work, and sit at your desk. Inside your blood might be boiling but out the outside, you appear fine. To your colleague, this is acceptable for her to give you her work, why? Because you have never voiced to her that you are behind, and are suffering from stress.
Example two; You want a night to yourself, you sit down and you start your favourite TV show. In walks your friend. She doesn’t live with you but just comes round without notice. You tell her it is ok, but in truth, you wish she would message and ask first. You sit there all smiles, tell her you are glad she came round because you had nothing planned for tonight (complete lie). Inside you are internally crying, on the outside you are all smiles. To your friend, this is acceptable. She does it all the time, and you have never voiced that you wish she would message first. When you start accepting something that is not acceptable to your core values this is called people-pleasing. By not voicing your discomfort in the first instance you are telling the other person that it is acceptable and that they can continue to do this.
When boundaries are in place, it allows you to prevent people from crossing over into what is uncomfortable, unacceptable, and hurtful behaviour in your eyes. Communicating your boundaries is important. It’s not about causing conflict, it’s about clearly communicating to others what’s acceptable and what’s not. Without communicating boundaries, how can others be expected to know when they are crossing the line? The less you speak up, the more likely these boundaries are to be tested, repeated crossed, and taken advantage of.
You can have many different levels of boundaries for different relationships. You might not be a hugger at work, but around your close friends you might like a good hug, and that’s ok! Many people have different boundaries in place for the different relationships in their life. This is normal and completely healthy.
How do you start to set boundaries?
If like so many people your boundary lines are blurred you can follow these simple little tricks to work out what your boundaries are. It’s never too late to set boundaries and these can overtime change as we age.
Take out a notebook or journal, and write the different areas in your life.
It could be work, home life, family, friendships, romantic relationships. Any area where you come into contact with people.
Now write down the following categories (you can remove some or include more) in each aspect of your life.
- Physical boundaries
- Emotional boundaries
- Mental boundaries
- Sexual boundaries
- Spiritual or religious boundaries
- Time boundaries
- Financial boundaries
- Social boundaries
Now working through one aspect of your life and one boundary at a time think about what makes you tick in these areas. Remember this can change for different areas.
Maybe you don’t like when your colleagues make fun of your birthmark. Or you don’t like your friends giving you hugs. Start with the little things and then build up to more serious and non-negotiable lines that you don’t want to be crossed.
Take your time with it. It’s not necessarily going to be done in a night, a week, a month, or even a year. Use it as a building block and keep adding and adjusting where necessary.