Rebuilding our boundaries and taking back control of our choices
Boundaries are an important part of daily life to keep us managing the world around us and the interactions that we have with others. If you are usually a “yes” person, do you find that sometimes you don’t have a moment to yourself, that you are always doing things for others and prioritise this over your own needs? Do you find that you can you take on more than you can manage, and important “life” tasks or personal things can be neglected? Or does your list become a list of a list?
If this is the case, it might be time to reflect on your own boundaries and what these mean to you. At any point boundaries can be put into place, subtly and slowly or in some cases immediately in response to when something goes wrong. Both are totally acceptable and valid.
Sometimes, this change of behaviour may become apparent to others around you, and they may question your reasons for becoming more assertive, aware, or resistant or non-accepting of certain things. At this point, the opportunity can arise to determine these boundaries in a proactive way and by making them clear to others about what your expectations on how you would like to be treated are and reminding them of own personal limits.
Many of us believe that doing ‘for’ others is the right thing to do, and in many ways, this a positive trait that helps our families, communities, and our environment to become a more giving and empathetic space. However, if this is impacting on you and causing you limitations in reaching your own potential and goals in life, then this might be the time to start rebuilding those boundaries and taking more control over your own choices.
That leads to a poignant question…..When have you felt comfortable in saying “no.” Having to say “no” usually leaves us feeling guilty, grappling to find alternative suggestions and feeling like we have let a person down. In reality, when we have to sacrifice something in order to give something, this is not a fair trade of our time. It is lose: lose. This is not to say we should only help someone else if it benefits us directly, or only take on tasks that are going to gain us something. It is learning to understand that balance is necessary for our wellbeing. And, if taking on something that will be a detriment to you, it’s making the healthy choice to say no.
Boundaries are something that are very different to us all as individuals. If these are too rigid or too flexible, this can also cause difficulties in missing opportunities and connections or feeling overstretched and exhausted. So, balance is key. Our boundaries will change over time, and we learn to lower them and raise them at different times in our lives.
A good way to monitor your own boundaries is to keep a note about what is being asked of you and how may times you accept or decline these requests. Also to write down, your feelings and emotions about taking something on; Is it easy or difficult for you? Is it in your free time or do you have to re-arrange your own personal schedule? Did something you wanted to do fall by the wayside because of it? Or did this personally help you and make you feel good? This can give you the visual and tangible evidence that you will need, in order to make some readjustments. Remember, boundaries do not make you difficult, defiant, or opposing. They are there to keep you well, safe, responsible for your own choice and help people around you better understand how you want to be treated.