Setting healthy boundaries is something that I’ve had to learn the hard way in my own life. I’ve compromised values, beliefs, and opinions to try and make others happy. Can you relate?
Usually, in these type of dynamics, I ended up feeling spent and used. This wasn’t the other person’s fault; it was my own. That’s why I believe the first step in setting boundaries is accepting full responsibility for my life.
It starts with me. There’s an awful lot of talk around setting boundaries with others. However, when I respect my own first, I have a lot more to give. For example, when I say no to that next beer or that next episode of the Netflix series, and I get some sleep as I’d planned, I wake up feeling rested and ready to tackle the day.
When I set boundaries in my relationships, I prevent burnout, I have less resentment and more balance in my life. In the past, when I’ve said yes to things that weren’t the best use of my time, I would dread the task and even unfairly resent the other person. When I’m asked to do something, it’s okay to say something like “thank you for asking but my plate is really full right now.” When I need to think about it, I might say “I need time to consider but I will get back to you.” When I set boundaries I communicate with others how I want and expect to be treated. However, again, when these things aren’t clearly stated, I can only blame myself.
Another aspect of respecting boundaries is distancing yourself from toxic people. I appreciate the Maya Angelou quote “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.” If your interaction with someone consistently leaves you feeling like you can’t say no or you find them speaking on your behalf without your permission or even gossiping about you, check your boundaries! These are some of the things to watch out for. Life’s too short to let your boundaries down. It might be hard because that person may be a familiar presence in your world, but sometimes the best thing to do is let go and walk away.
Setting boundaries does not mean isolation. On the contrary, community is important for everyone. Still, one phrase I heard growing up was ‘if you don’t choose your friends, your friends will choose you.” Post-pandemic, I’ve found that quality not quantity, for me, has been a healthier way to live.
I leave you with an inquiry. What’s the distinction, in your own life, between healthy and unhealthy boundaries?