It's only in the past couple years that I've started to develop boundaries in my own life. I think what stopped me was not feeling worthy of them and caring about how other people would react to them. It's been difficult at times, but I've definitely benefited from having them in my life.
In this post I talked about self care and why I think it's so important for a healthy, happy life. Boundaries are a form of self-care so I wanted to talk about what they are, why they are important and how you can set and maintain them even when it's difficult.
What Is Self-Care?
Self care is a broad concept that describes taking care of yourself and thinking about yourself and speaking about yourself in positive ways. The main concept of self-care is that you are putting yourself first, you are making yourself a priority and you’re living like you care about yourself.
Many of us, women especially, don’t live like this. We learn from various sources that we should be ashamed of our bodies, we’re too fat or too thin, too bossy, or too quiet. We learn that we are not good enough, in whatever way that means to you. We talk about ourselves in a negative way, we think negative thoughts, put ourselves down, are self-deprecating, or put others needs ahead of our own.
Many people may see self-care as being selfish, but it’s not. Self-care doesn’t mean that you neglect others, take from them or harm anyone else. It means that you take care of yourself, which in turn can help you take better care of others.
It’s a way to “fill up your cup” so you’re not giving from a place of being empty. When you feel taken care of, you can take care of your family, work, run your business and feel generous and joyful doing it. You have an “overflowing” cup and plenty to share with others.
It’s a way to show love and appreciation to yourself, much like you would show to someone you love. It’s a way to build a relationship with yourself based on love and respect.
Self-care practices can be any number of things that make you happy and reduce stress. Here are a few ideas:
snuggling with a pet
spending time outdoors
spending time with family or friends
eating your favorite meal
taking a nap
getting a massage
having quiet time for yourself
reading a book
The only people who get upset by you setting boundaries are the ones who were benefiting from you having none
What Are Boundaries?
Boundaries are determined by you and are what you are willing and not willing to do. They are the line around what you feel comfortable with, what you know is best for you, and what matches your personal values.
Unfortunately, many of us don't learn that it's ok to have and enforce boundaries. We should be “good," not raise a fuss, and just go along with things. When you stand up for what you want, you may be called names, not be liked, and make people angry.
Boundaries can be a hard thing to do, especially starting out. I know they were for me because it meant that I was making people unhappy and I didn’t like doing that. I used to care a lot about what people thought of me and the thought of upsetting someone was difficult.
Boundaries can vary just like self-care and depend on what you decide is right for you.
Here are a few ideas:
Saying "no" whether it's a big or small request
Taking care of yourself and not going to work when you’re sick
Leaving a job that you don’t like or that doesn't appreciate you
Setting work hours if you work from home and sticking to them
Delegating tasks to others to lighten your workload
Choosing not to spend time around others who bring you down
How Can You Set Boundaries?
When it comes to setting boundaries you need to know what's important to you, what your goals are, and what's best for your life and the way you want to live it. Boundaries are also an outward show of the respect you have for yourself as well as what you expect from others so developing feelings of self-worth is also important.
Know What’s Important to You
You need to find out what your values are and what’s important for you. Once you know what’s best for you, then finding your boundaries becomes easier because anything that doesn’t support your priorities is outside your boundaries and you can say "no" to it.
Ask yourself these questions to get yourself thinking about what's important to you:
What are your goals for today? For this week? For this year?
What do you want your life to be like this time next year?
What are the issues you're facing or your family is facing right now that need attention?
Cultivate Self Love
It’s hard to set boundaries and stick to them if you don’t believe you're important enough to have them in the first place. Once you love and respect yourself, it becomes easier to know where your boundaries are and when someone has crossed them. One way to develop self love is to do affirmations daily. It may feel forced at first but once you repeat them enough, your subconscious mind will start believing them and you’ll start acting in ways that reinforce these beliefs.
Here are a few to get you started:
I love myself
I respect myself, therefore I deserve to be respected
I am good enough just the way I am
I am important
I am beautiful inside and out
I am wanted
Stick to Them and Don’t Get Discouraged
Once you start setting boundaries with others it can be difficult, especially if you hadn’t set them before. We tell people how to treat us by what we allow from them. When you set boundaries you’re telling people how to treat you and it may be different from what you allowed in the past. The people who respect you will stay and be ok with it, but some people may leave. Just remember that the people who get angry when you set boundaries are the people who were benefiting by you having none. When people get upset by them, it’s a sure sign that boundaries are necessary.
Keep at it because you're amazing and you're worth it!
Self-care is a broad concept that describes taking care of yourself, thinking about yourself and speaking about yourself in positive ways. The main concept of self-care is that you are putting yourself first, you are making yourself a priority and you’re living like you care about yourself. Boundaries are a form of self-care and are determined by you and what you are willing and not willing to do. They are the line around what you feel comfortable with, what you know is best for you, and what matches your personal values. Three ways to set boundaries are to know what's important to you, cultivate self love, and stick to them even when it's hard.
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