Day 3, y’all ready?
So far we have talked about drinking warm lemon water to cleanse the body and alternate nostril breathing to cleanse the mind but today we will talk about a cleansing practice for your soul…setting boundaries.
I identify setting boundaries in your relationships as a serious soul cleansing practice because it will save you so much time, energy, heartache and confusion when done intentionally and from the heart.
We’ve all had that friend who always needs something, the family member who is always picking a fighting, the chick in our circle who talks our ear off about her ‘stuff’ but never asks about ours, the partner or parent who doesn’t respect our opinions, or even people we feel we have to constantly be on call for. Setting boundaries is self-preservation!
When was the last time you …sat down and thought about how you feel around people in your life? …checked in with yourself about whether you were happy in a relationship OR why you are feeling uneasy or drained in a relationship? …said no, took a day off, or simply required a timeout?
Setting boundaries is one of the most common topics that come up in my work with clients. Truth be told, it is one of the most common topics that come up in my life. I’ve come to realize many people struggle with setting boundaries. Some don’t know how, some never think to, some fear the result, and some were taught not to. Let’s be real…some of us set unrealistic standards for ourselves which might include being constantly available for others.
I, myself, am a recovering boundary-less soul. I used to give so much of myself to others I constantly felt exhausted and unsupported. I was raised to set unhealthy “we don’t talk about our business to other people” boundaries with the world but was not allowed to set even healthy boundaries with close family, especially my elders. (Not uncommon within my culture and community.) I learned the unhealthy boundary I was setting with the world would isolate me while the boundary set with family would drain me. I’m not saying my family didn’t pour into me or that I didn’t have friends that I shared myself with. I was just extremely unbalanced and did not feel I had the right to ask for my needs to be met. As an adult, I struggled to find a middle ground. I’ve since learned and I’m much happier and healthier because of it.
What are boundaries?
A boundary is a standard set to create a buffer between you and others. It can be as simple as saying no to an invitation or as challenging as ending a friendship. The goal of a boundary is to show people what you are willing or capable of dealing with and what you aren’t. Boundaries are about requiring that your needs are met and people love and treat you in ways that are comfortable for you.
Boundaries can look different in different groups of people (family vs coworkers), with different individuals (sibling vs partner), in different environments (home vs school), on different days (work days vs off days), or may depend on how you feel (tired or sad vs happy or energetic. For us menstruating folks think…days 1 and 2 of your cycle vs the rest of the month).
When we don’t set boundaries we allow for our relationships to become one-sided. A healthy relationship requires an exchange of energy between all parties rather than giving or taking.
How do you set boundaries/decide what boundaries to set?
An easy way to start is to ask yourself these questions:
- How do I feel about this person/relationship or in this moment?
- What do I feel I need from this person/relationship or in this moment?
- Are my needs being met?
- If not, what do I need more/less of from this person/relationship/moment?
- What can I ask for or what do I need to do in order to get these needs met?
The tough thing about setting boundaries is that people in our lives may not like it. Some may struggle to respect the boundary and may even threaten to leave. The most important step in setting boundaries is being consistent about requiring that they are met. Boundary setting with adults is not much different than with children…regardless of the response-consistency is key and it may get worse before it gets better, especially if they aren’t used to us, or anyone, setting boundaries with them.
This leads to the final question you can ask in the boundary setting process:
- Is this person/relationship willing or capable of meeting my needs? OR is it realistic for my needs to be met in this moment/environment?
Truth is, some people are not able to meet our needs because they aren’t willing or capable. Setting boundaries with that person might mean ending the relationship or accepting they aren’t capable and no longer engaging with them in that capacity (ex. a friend who doesn’t listen well when you need to talk may be someone you stop venting to). The same goes for specific environments or moments. You may work at a job where setting a boundary like taking a day off might be looked down upon and cause trouble. It may be time to leave that job.
Bottom line is: It is up to you to decide what your level of comfort is in any relationship or situation. You have a right to feel comfortable or ask for adjustments to be made if you aren’t.
What are some boundaries you have had to set with people in your life? How did you do with that process? Join the conversation in the Actualize Your Healing Facebook group.