I didn’t start out with great boundaries.
I’m still not an expert, but I remember the time in my life when I started to take them more seriously. I was in my late 20’s and I started to experience chest pains. I’d be having a conversation and start to feel stressed and my chest would suddenly feel like it was cramping up. It was difficult to relax. At that time of my life, I was obsessed with being present for people and I was neglecting to work on my own personal dreams.
As I responded more to the needs of others I lost track of taking care of myself all while feeling guilty that I wasn’t giving enough. When I say I lost track of taking care of myself I mean emotionally. It was only after a hurtful confrontation and several disappointments that I started to have some important realizations. I began to see where I had gone wrong. I re-evaluated.
I needed to pull back in investing in others’ lives and focus my energy on investing in myself and the things that I really wanted. This meant pulling back from conversations where I was giving unsolicited or sought-after advice to no end. It meant prioritizing my finances and not randomly giving away money and resources to solve preventable issues that resulted from poor planning. I had been accustomed to putting myself last. Changing what I was doing felt like changing who I was and I was punished for it.
When you start to throw down boundary lines in your life you will often be looked at by those that want to manipulate you as selfish. Manipulation will come to you in specialized attacks. It’s up to you to stand your ground. Relationships will be threatened and retracted and you have to be ok with that.
At the time when I was doing my deepest work in this area, my roommates listened to me complain. They’d confront me like the addict I was and pointed out when I’d go back on things I said I wouldn’t do and I tried my best to listen to them. I was controlled by fear of the consequences and peoples’ judgments of my actions. It was a very healing time for me. I learned that I needed to stop pretending people needed me to figure out their stuff. I learned that I had to prioritize my desires and plan ahead. I realized that there would always be something that was seemed like a crisis and demanded attention but that most of the time it could wait. I decided to not be reactive. These steps later helped me to write my books, take better care of myself and invest in people that were willing to do the work on their end. Later in life, I bought the book “Boundaries” and I devoured it. If you struggle in this area here are three things you can do today.
- Learn all about what boundaries are, which you need, and how to create them
Many people don’t understand boundaries for simple reasons like culture or how they were raised.
- Let others know what your boundaries are
Let people know what your boundaries are and do not accept them trampling on them. This could mean that you will have to be ok with losing some relationships. Structure your life so that you will not have to depend on those that don’t respect your boundaries
- Get support
Friends, a therapist or clergy can help you stay accountable to your boundaries. Give them permission to speak to you.
Have you ever had to set up boundaries for yourself and how did those around you react?