5 March 2020
Setting Personal Boundaries & How To Enforce Them
At one point in my life, a few years back, I thought I had this boundary thing all figured out. I set boundaries appropriately with the people in my life & I knew what I needed, I knew what I wanted & I communicated that appropriately. I'm killing it, right? Wrong.
I quite often talk about how it good to have boundaries set in place, but what are boundaries? Boundaries are limits that give us a sense of control over our physical space, body & feelings. Basically, anything that that is important to us. It could be our personal space, emotions & thoughts, sexuality, possessions, time & energy, values, culture & religion. We have the right to have our boundaries respected & we also have the right, obligation even, to enforce those boundaries within our lives. And none of the makes us unloveable or less valuable.
"A lot of people find it easy to state their boundaries, but fewer people are willing to follow through & act on their boundaries. And a boundary isn't actually a boundary unless it's enforced through your actions. If you say you won't tolerate drama, or disrespectful people, or liars or cheaters but you stick around after someone continues to create drama, or disrespect you, or lie, or cheat, them I'm sorry but you do actually do tolerate those things." - Mark Manson
Not holding true to our boundaries is also known as self-abandonment. This means that we tend to self-abandon our feelings, emotions & thoughts. And we put other people's feelings & needs before our own. For a while there, I thought I could fix anything or anyone, that I could do or say something that would make us all happy. Spoiler alert! When this happened, I only ended up sacrificing my own needs & wants. So, the question is, how do we set boundaries & how do we enforce them?
To start off with, I found defining what was important to be really beneficial. Ask yourself, what are my rights & what do I value? Make a list. Do you value time to yourself? Lots of communication? Then there should be boundaries around these & it's important to remember that boundaries can vary based on the relationship.
Trust you instincts. What is your gut telling you? I also found it helpful to check in with myself while identifying any boundaries. How are you feeling, emotionally or even physically, when you think about someone crossing the line? If it's not good, you probably know where the line needs to be drawn.
Now that you have an idea of what your boundaries are but people are going to test them, both intentionally & unintentionally. Now what?
First big thing what learning to say no. No is a powerful word but it can be scary to say at times. Most of the time, the person you're saying no to won't get mad or angry. Maybe they'll be a little shocked if they're so use to you saying yes but the shock will wear off. And if saying no does make someone angry, then too bad! You could always say, "Thank you for thinking of me but no." or you could always say "Sorry, I'm not available." But at the end of the day, no explanation is really needed. Don't feel like you have to explain yourself.
Being direct is something I've also found extremely important but also helpful. When I say be direct, I mean being assertive & firm without being aggressive. Using "I" statements are effective. You're taking ownership of your feelings & are stating what is needed. "I" statements can be hard in the heat of the moment when we are feeling all kinds of emotions but I feel as though we get much better results if try to control those emotions.
So now you're aware of your boundaries & you can start enforcing them! It's not easy & it does take practice, thoughtfulness, self love & self esteem to get here so be proud of that! Remember, boundaries aren't concrete walls. They're more like cardboard boxes. Sometimes they can be flexible, they can be picked up & moved closer or further away from you. But the decision is entirely yours to make.