We set boundaries every day. Like locking the bathroom door to do your business, informing your dog that she will not get your bacon or covering your ears when your mom fails to adhere by the “TMI!” objection.
On a regular basis, we reassert pre-existing boundaries or establish new ones and for good reason. Boundaries are a protective mechanism. We use them to maintain the proper space allocated for us to thrive. When we respect our own boundaries, we send a message out to people and the universe that we care about our well-being. When boundaries are crossed, we feel stretched too thin and our energy dwindles at an alarmingly quick rate.
It’s our nature and how we’ve been nurtured…
As women we wear many hats: mother, daughter, partner, boss, employee the list goes on. We are everyday firefighters, arriving when help is requested, and doing whatever it takes to save the day. I’m down for all of that.
A recurring question pops into my head, “Why do I feel so exhausted after putting out these fires?”
You see, I’m a problem-solver. My parents are incredible problem solvers, no matter the situation, they found a solution. Naturally, I wanted to do the exact same thing and so I became a Jacqueline of all traits. (Just like my momma…actually though, her middle name is Jacqueline, ha!) For a long time, I cherished the fact that I was the go-to supporter, babysitter, handy woman and doing my best to always be available. I was seeking validation from others to tell me how good of a [blank] I was. I was spreading myself thin and placing my self-worth in what others thought of my capabilities. Then, I dove into my passion of self-improvement and personal development. This took up a lot of time and made it difficult to continue to be at the ready to help others with their requests. Since then, I’ve been more intentional with my ‘yes’s but it doesn’t make it easier for people to understand why they’re hearing more ‘no’s.
Not an easy feat…
It can be really hard to set boundaries with people and with yourself. You want to show that you care, you want to know that people care about you and people see you. You want to live your life your way and not at the whim of anybody… older than 2. I know exactly what that feels like. You are getting there. You are making progress and a great way to do that is by being intentional with where your time and energy goes. By setting boundaries.
I want to be able to look back on my life and say that I was happy with the way I spent each day. They won’t always be productive and they don’t always have to be. But I don’t want to be resentful to anyone because I felt obligated to provide what they needed. No. I want to have the time to accomplish my own goals and take care of my well-being. As a matter of fact, I need to do this because that will only improve the value I can bring to others and I want to help you do the same.
It’s much harder to do anything of this though when our energy finds itself in a location it has no place being.
Places such as:
- Other people’s drama
- Competition with others
- Pleasing others, whose thoughts and feelings we can not control
- Belittling who we are
- Talking poorly about our capabilities
You’re a busy woman achieving your dreams. You don’t have the time or energy to do anything but improve yourself first and foremost.
Boundaries + People
I’d like to think that most people we interact with have good intentions, from wanting to catch up with an old friend to asking for advice.
It can be difficult, however, to articulate that you can’t be available like you once were to the people who request your time and energy. This is even more challenging if they’re accustom to receiving that kind of support. So it’s important to get to the root of why you felt the need to always be that support in the first place. From there, you’ll be able to work through the urge to agree to every request. And it will take time and regular, open communication with the individual(s) to kindly but firmly reinforce those boundaries. It’s still a challenge for me to clearly communicate that. But I do my best to show that I still care and will support them in a way that works well for the both of us.
Just show that you care…
Like I mentioned earlier, people want to know that you care about them.
We reach out for help to know that someone is in our corner and wants the best for us. That might very well be the reason they’ve called on you. Unfortunately, this message gets lost when you’re already overwhelmed and want assistance yourself. So then the result is resentment, frustration and just. more. overwhelm. I’ve been there. I get there. And I can tell you that strategies are crucial to your success.
It’s possible to be there for others in a way that benefits the both of you. Right now you feel like you have to agree to the way that they want your support. No my girl, you have a choice. If you can show that you care in your own special way, call and check in on them, purchase a meaningful gift, that will always be a win-win situation.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Why do you have difficulty setting boundaries with people? Are you seeking validation? Why? Are you afraid of what others will think of you? Why?
- When do they have access to that time? Anytime you’re not working? From 7-9pm?
- Is your phone always on? Have you tried putting your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode?
- Do you give an automatic “yes” to favors? Why?
Boundaries + time
Time is the world’s most valuable resource. We can never get enough of it or get it back. Therefore it makes sense that we be conscious and intentional about how we spend it.
I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt say that I spend my time much better than I ever have before. But I can still spend an entire day doing “stuff” and not remember what I did. And this only makes me feel less productive because there is no measurement of progress. I can also procrastinate and binge watch recommended Youtube videos then feel overwhelmed as I look at my untouched to-do list. Do I regret any of it? No. Is there room for improvement? Heck yes! Am I working on it? Definitely.
Put a value on your time…
The way you value your time will help you and others see what it should be spent on. But it starts with you and what you want for yourself and your life. Write out a weekly schedule with clear and realistic goals to accomplish by the end of that week. Each day, check in periodically to make sure that you’re making progress. I know that I see the most progress when I revise my goals regularly throughout the week.
When you can get clear on your vision, the rest falls into place. Be clear on what fills your cup.
- A 30-minute exercise
- 5 hours of interrupted work time
- 8 hours of sleep
- 2 hours to decompress from the day, have a lovely dinner, take a warm bath, listen to some tunes
- 1 hour to catch up with family and friends
That’s already 16 hours and a 30-minute where you’ve told yourself and the universe that you’re working to improve yourself. It’s when we don’t put up those clear, intentional boundaries that we find our fort of interrupted peace/protected time being infiltrated.
Boundaries + Yourself
I’ve talked a bit about setting boundaries with people and your time but most importantly are the boundaries we have with ourselves.
Do you know when you’ve crossed the boundary you’ve set for yourself? Binge watch Netflix show after show in efforts to escape reality? Or dwell on the hurtful words your friend said to you? Worse, do you “push” through that migraine you get every night due to a short 5 hours of sleep?
How about the kind of information you process on a regular basis. A lesson from a Tony Robbins video? Celebrity news? A podcast episode on self-compassion? Constructive criticism? Praise? Insults? Negative self-talk?
What do you let in?
We underestimate the power of stimuli we expose ourselves to and how deeply it affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. In high school, I watched reality shows religiously; back-stabbing, drama, gossiping, fights and secrets galore. Fast forward several years later, in my mid-20’s and I can’t watch those shows for more than 5 minutes. I’m just not in that headspace. I recognize that those shows don’t provide me the information I can use to positively transform my life. (ABSOLUTELY NO JUDGEMENT IF THOSE SHOWS ARE YOUR S*** BTW).
Be conscious of the messages you let in and live your life based on. We’re always operating on a conscious and subconscious level. You might say tomorrow I’m going to wake up bright and early. Your subconscious, on the other hand, is saying “girl you hardly follow through on my word so that won’t happen”. And then it doesn’t. Our words and actions have a profound effect on what we say and do.
Just like opinions…
Everyone is entitled to their opinions and the good news is that whatever they think about you is none of your business. It doesn’t dictate who you are. It’s not fact.
Put in boundaries with how far you let your negative thoughts fly. Say for instance, you’ve scheduled a beautiful outdoor picnic, and just you show up, it starts to rain. Will you be in a crappy mood and cancel the picnic? Or set a boundary in how far that will get you down?
I experienced this lesson a few weeks ago when I went from being 20 minutes early for work to 10 minutes late. I was on the brink of losing my composure but understood that I couldn’t change the situation. So I made the choice to stay calm and let my workplace that I was going to be late. Simple.
When things aren’t going the way you hoped they would, setting an emotional boundary allows you to assess the situation in a better state of mind. It’s difficult to think clearly when you’re angry or frustrated. Set boundaries for yourself, understand what your threshold for anger, sadness and unfortunate events are and put a plan in place to keep those emotions in check.
Time is precious…
Your time and energy is extremely valuable, the options are endless, your potential is infinite. This means that you want to utilize the time you have to the best of your ability. You mean a lot to many people which is different from being a lot for many different people. Give yourself permission to flourish like the resilient, beautiful plant that you are! Put yourself in a position you can thrive in, feed yourself with the best possible nourishment and set those necessary boundaries. You at your best means anyone and anything that comes in contact with you being a little better. You have the last word in what you do and where your time and energy goes!
What are some action steps you can take right now to set boundaries? Leave a comment and let’s all brainstorm together!