In my last post I discussed the importance of kindness while maintaining boundaries, and I quickly realized that a lot of people don’t really know what boundaries look or feel like. Boundaries can be difficult to navigate and it seems that too often people look at boundaries as a way to keep people out of their precious space, being guarded, when really they are about a way to keep yourself mentally and emotionally strong and healthy while surrounded by other people’s energies. It’s about knowing what matters most to you and being able to hold fast to those beliefs and values through the constant barrage of in and out personalities and challenges. Boundaries are a set of guidelines you follow regarding what you will accept in the way others treat you, and how you treat yourself.
Other people will always try to make you think and believe that you somehow play a role in how they feel, as well as in their choices and behaviors, but that truly is nonsense. Everyone has a choice regarding how they are going to feel about things, as well as how they will behave. Should it ever be your intention to hurt someone or attempt to make them upset? Absolutely not. That just makes you a jerk, but if that’s the reaction that you get from them by standing up for yourself, it really isn’t your fault. They chose that. The only thing we are truly in control of is ourselves, and once you give your power over to someone to let them dictate your emotions and reactions, you have blurred your boundaries. Well, erased them entirely would be more like it.
When you think about boundaries, consider the following:
It is okay if others get angry– again, their emotions and reactions are their choice and responsibility. You can’t control someone else and you have to be ok with that. You could do every single thing in your power to try and keep someone from being angry and still fail because that person may just want to be angry. Let the need to control others go. Your emotions are more important for you because they are all you have control over. Staying true to yourself is what you go home with each day. If you abandon that to keep someone else placated and content- you’re going to find it very difficult to feel good about yourself.
So the internal boundary is allowing others to feel whatever it is they want to feel. The external boundary is not allowing someone to treat you poorly just because they are angry. They don’t get to call you names, act out, or hurt you. Their anger is not an excuse to be horrible. Not tolerating that is the way you show someone that you will not accept being treated a certain way.
You are setting your boundaries. But keep in mind that you can stand up for yourself and stop tolerating poor treatment without being mean to anyone.
It is okay to say no– guess what happens when you say no to someone? Nothing. They will move on to someone else to ask. It is better to say no than to say yes and be miserable. Not to mention you won’t do whatever it is with the heart it deserves and that isn’t fair to anyone. If they get upset, that’s their choice. If they can’t get over it, good riddance to a bad friend/person/colleague/whatever. You don’t need someone who can’t respect your needs in your life. Say buh-bye.
I’m an introvert so this one is huge for me. I have to be comfortable saying no to people in order to keep myself sane. A lot of people will try to make me feel guilty for it, but I know I would be doing a disservice to say yes to something I didn’t really want to do or that I didn’t agree with. I am the one who has to live with the decision and I finally reached the point where that is a bigger deal to me than someone else’s feelings on the issue. They’ll get over it, or they won’t. Not my problem. What is my problem is if I’m going to feel good about myself at the end of the day. If I go against my authentic self to make someone else happy, it’s not worth it to me. It isn’t right if it’s at my expense.
The boundaries are set: not allowing myself to say yes to things I don’t want to do or don’t believe in, and not accepting someone else trying to make me feel bad or guilty about it. Done and done.
It is my job to make me happy– this one confuses people because they start to think that by looking out for yourself you are therefore selfish and conceited or something. That is not at all the case. What this is about is the fact that if you take the time to take care of yourself first, you are then able to be your best self for everyone in your life. If you rely on someone else to make you happy- you will inevitably be disappointed as no one can do that for you. Your job is to do what you have to do to keep yourself healthy and happy in every way. Then you can show up in your entirety and be present for those that need you. Taking this one step further- it is NOT your job to try to make anyone else happy. We are each responsible for our own happiness. No exceptions.
The boundaries? For yourself- putting your emotional and mental needs first and not expecting anyone else to do it for you, and for others- not allowing them to try to make you responsible for their happiness or make you feel bad for taking care of yourself.
Nobody has to agree with me– this is allowing yourself to own your beliefs and values without a need for anyone else’s approval or agreement. They are entitled to their own as well, so it is not your job to try to convince them of anything. Be open to the disagreement and accept that we all see life through a different lens based on different experiences. They don’t have to agree with you for both of you to be right and to be doing what is best for each of you. It also doesn’t make anyone involved a bad person. We are all just different and that’s one of the beautiful parts of life. There is a theme here with the boundaries, have you noticed?
Do not allow someone else to make you feel bad for believing or valuing the things that you do, and do not lie or try to fake beliefs and values that do not align with who you are just because others do not agree.
I have a right to my own feelings– allow yourself to feel without apology. Whatever you feel, whenever you feel it- is valid. It doesn’t need an explanation or someone else’s approval. They are your feelings, so feel them. What matters isn’t the feeling, it’s what you do with it. Own it, feel it, and process it before you act on it. Give yourself the time to do that so you can avoid unnecessary drama.
That allowance is you maintaining your boundaries. Allowing yourself to get pushed into a reaction is you not maintaining your boundaries. Be responsible for yourself.
I am enough. Period. The boundary that you set for yourself is not allowing the negative self-talk to take over and have you believing that you are unworthy, or less than, or any other nonsense. You are enough just as you are, and it is your responsibility to do what it takes to remember that. Do not let yourself get in your own way. There is a saying (and we know I love my sayings) that
Once you settle for less than you deserve, you get less than what you settled for.
If you do not make it a priority to believe that you are enough, then you will continue to find yourself among people that don’t believe you are either, and you will be treated as such always wondering what is wrong with you and how you keep finding these people. Once you set that boundary for yourself, you will no longer tolerate others treating you that way.
Maybe you don’t start with “I love myself so much!” That may just be too far a leap from self-loathing and a lack of self-worth. So you start with “ya know, I’m pretty good at …” or “I really do have beautiful eyes.” Maybe a simple “I think I’m ok” is where today begins, but each day you put just a little more effort in and keep working on it until you get there. People that really want to push you down and make you feel like less will start to drop out of your life because you won’t be accepting that anymore, and there will be no place for them in your world. That will hurt at first until you realize what’s happening and start to see the people who see more in you show up.
Everyone has to set boundaries for themselves that feel right, but this is a good place to start. These few boundaries help you to walk a little bit taller throughout your day, and in that, demand that you are treated the way you deserve to be. Boundaries are about being completely authentic, again-without apologizing for who you are and what you want for your life and the way you want to be treated.
If you want to know more about boundaries, read Brene Brown’s work. She is the queen of boundaries- being upfront about them, and never making excuses for them. I get her Dose of Daring emails and one I received in the past was this…
It’s a great reminder to carry with you always. We are not perfect. We never will be, and that’s ok. We are perfect in our imperfections. Setting boundaries allows you to embrace your imperfection, be vulnerable, and take risks because you’ll know that the people in your life are those that should be there, who value you just the way you are, treat you the way you want to be treated, and respect what you’re about.
Get started today figuring out what your boundaries are if you haven’t yet, and good luck!