There is so much to talk about when it comes to boundaries, this will be just the first part of a series of blog posts.
Who has trouble with boundaries? I used to, and I know a lot of people who still do.
Do you say yes to everything because you don't know how to say no? Do you say yes even when you don't have the time or resources to actually commit to what you are saying yes to? Do you say yes because you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or risk upsetting them?
Maybe you're not a "yes" person. But do you say no to everything? Do you know you can't commit your time and resources to all that is asked of you, but instead of choosing you instead say no because you feel like this is the only way to be fair?
Boundaries can be hard, especially when healthy boundaries have not been modeled for you. In my experience observing and talking to people, very few people learned what good and healthy boundaries looked like growing up. Figuring out what boundaries actually are as an adult, however, is one of the most important things we can do!
I'll admit - it took several years and a lot of trial and error to discover what healthy boundaries look like for me. One of the hardest things, especially for women, is that we want to help everyone else and don't want to be mean. That's one of the misconceptions about boundaries, is that by saying no, you aren't a good person. In fact, holding healthy boundaries is actually a sign of respect - it is respectful of yourself first and foremost, but it is actually respectful to others.
The process of creating healthy boundaries in my life was so gradual, that it wasn't until I'd actually been giving myself the respect and care I deserved by maintaining them that I realized - hey! I've finally got it!
So here's a little bit about what healthy boundaries looks like, versus not having them.
Healthy boundaries reduce stress. When I was learning what they were, my biggest indicator was to pay attention to *how I feel* in a situation. Doesn't it *feel* different when you make the decision for yourself, instead of feeling like you just can't say no? We've all had that experience - someone asks up to do something, maybe we've even said yes before because we had extra time, but this time our schedule is full. We don't want to let them down, but the thought of saying yes out of obligation just makes us feel stressed. We want to say no, but especially if it's something we've been able to do before we just feel like we have no choice.
There is always choice, though. Holding healthy boundaries is realizing that each and every single thing we do every day is a choice. We're usually pretty good about prioritizing what *needs* to get done (after all, when my fridge is empty, it is still a choice whether i make time for the grocery store!), but after that there is still an infinite list of what we could do in a day. Do you say yes to your friend who wants you to take care of their pet tarantula for a week when they're out of town, even though you hate spiders and would rather squish it flat than feed it? Do you say yes to your sibling who wants to know if you can babysit your niece and nephew, even though you have a big presentation at work tomorrow you'd like to prepare for? Do you say yes to your coworker who asks you to take a shift when you're already working doubles most of this week?
If you're a people pleaser, chances are you will want to say yes to all of those things. If you hold healthy boundaries, you know you don't have to, and it is your choice what is and is not ok to include on your schedule. HECK NO will you watch that awful pet (come on, get a cat!). Not this week - to the coworker who wants you to work their shift, 60 hours is enough! Maybe you're already thoroughly prepared to give your presentation, and you don't mind watching your brother's kids after all, but if you can't watch them you know he'll understand.
Everything is a choice, and it is recognizing this that enables us to maintain our boundaries. When you feel like you don't have a choice, that is usually a sign your boundaries are being crossed. When you feel stressed or upset, that might be a red flag that this has to do with boundaries.
This is a good place to get you started in thinking about your boundaries. There is so much more, especially when it comes to boundaries relating to interpersonal relationships, but choosing how to spend your time is a good way to get your toes wet, especially if you're someone who has had trouble before always saying yes or always saying no.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about boundaries, so feel free to share in the comments about your own experiences, or if there is anything from this blog post you'd like me to talk more about! <3