Were you ever taught how to have boundaries? Or were you just expected to be or do whatever everyone else expected of you?
If you are like me, there was really no such thing as boundaries growing up. I did not get to decide for myself whether or not I was going to attend a family function, or have to hug the creepy cousin. It was just expected. Children did not get a say.
As an adult, I have struggled to find where my boundaries lie. Because for so long, I didn't have any. I was a people-pleaser! I wanted to be liked, so I did not want to disappoint anyone. I did a lot of things for others, and not much for myself. This is a trauma-response, and had a lot of old messages attached. So, finding boundaries was a struggle.
If you've struggled with all of this as well, maybe something below will help.
Feel Your Feelings
Give yourself permission to have your feelings. So often, we will mask our true feelings with one more submissive or passive, and then we become a doormat. This breeds resentment.
If you've been asked to do something that makes you uncomfortable, this is a blatant red flag. Being aware of WHY it makes you uncomfortable is important to assess.
This is where you recruit your intuition. How do you REALLY feel about what has been asked of you? What about it makes you feel that way? Can you get to a place where you feel differently? If not, then that is where your boundary lies. And however you feel is okay. You may not be safe to express how you feel, but you are safe to have a boundary.
Be Direct & Assertive
No. is a complete sentence! You read that right. No. Say it again... NO.
This seems to be difficult for some. There tends to be a lot of explanation or excuses or smoke-screens happening to justify why you do not want to do something. This is a hard concept for some, but remember this: You do not owe ANYONE ANYTHING... especially when it comes to your peace.
Also, you are showing people HOW to treat you. Boundaries are basically self-respect. So, remember to teach people how to respect you by respecting yourself.
Find friends, family, or even online groups that support your healthy boundaries. Guidance or some cheerleading can also come from a counselor or a practitioner you trust. The people in your life who love you and want the best for you will understand, and they are excellent sources for support when you need to stand firm in your boundary.
If you feel isolated or do not trust anyone around you, there are online resources and books that can help guide you to find your strength and stick to your boundary. My personal favorite is a book by don Miguel Ruiz called The Four Agreements. Basically, he gives you four filters for life: Don't take anything personally; Don't make assumptions; Be impeccable with your word; Always do your best.
Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care
I cannot stress this enough. Self-Care begins with you being gentle with yourself - simple as that.
When you make a decision, that is where your boundary lies. Do not shame yourself for doing so. Your boundary may change at some point and you may be able to give more to a situation, but for now you are where you are, and that is OKAY!
Being a huge fan of mediation and mindfulness, getting quiet after having made your decision is a nice Self-Care technique. Although, I would recommend doing it BEFORE making a decision and asserting your boundary - because it will help affirm your decision - but having quiet reflection can be the most loving thing you can do for yourself once you set a boundary.
Know Your Limits
After having practiced the steps listed above, it will get easier and easier for you to know your limits. Having them in every area of your life is like having a small protective shield around you at all times.
Wellness involves your mind, body, and spirit - so have boundaries for each aspect of your wellness. Have them with not only your friends and family but with work colleagues and spiritual leaders in your community. Keep practicing them with every relationship so that your intimate relationships will be more peaceful and loving.
Feel your feelings. Notice red flags. Trust your intuition.
Be direct. Be assertive. Have self-respect and do not apologize for it.
Rally support. Have backup. Find strength - outer and inner-strength!
Self-Care is essential in all things, especially for your peace.
Know your limits and protect yourself in all aspects of your life - mind, body, and spirit.
Boundaries are like having your protective shield in place so that you can live peacefully.
Boundaries give you the strength to build your relationships from a place of self-love and self-respect.
Boundaries are essential for wellness.
And you are a Wellness Warrior!
Be well, Friends.