Setting Healthy Boundaries and Standing Up for Yourself
Every week is a new opportunity for a new intention and the perfect moment to look for new outlooks. The great thing is, the dictionary is endless... Creating endless opportunities for us to explore words and give them new meanings. Want these in your inbox? Click here.
Over the past few weeks, I have been reading a page from ‘Boundaries & Protection’ by Pixie Lighthorse before my morning meditation. She writes one-page essays on what boundaries means and how to learn to protect yourself.
On various occasions, she discusses the idea that a) we don’t know what boundaries are or why they’re so important and b) no one really teaches us how to build them.
Simply put, boundaries are 'lines that mark the limits of an area; dividing lines.' (from Boundaries & Protection by Pixie Lighthorse). In other words, they're your 'no' muscle. Your ability to say stop, this isn't working, my needs matter, I want respect, and so on.
Your ability to set boundaries equals to your ability to reclaim your space, your needs, to ask others to respect your choices, space, needs.
Your boundaries are your 'no' muscle
The problem with doing that, and probably one of the reasons why it is so hard for us to care about them and understand why we need them, is that we’re often afraid that others will reject us when we do set boundaries. If we’re honest about what we want & don’t want, what we need & don't, it is rather likely that others' desires and needs won't go in the same direction.
The question is (a rhetorical one, of course) - can we live without boundaries? Wouldn't it be exhausting to live our whole lives pretending we're up for everything we're offered? Think relationships, jobs, habits, big life decisions... Does saying yes to show openness at all times really serves us?
‘Daring to set boundaries is having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.’ - Brené Brown
The answer, of course, is no.
We're looking at years, maybe even a lifetime of exhaustion and living in someone else's shoes if we don't set proper boundaries, if we don't flex the no muscle. Have you ever spent a day with a pair of shoes on that weren't your size? It hurts. How about friends, a husband, a house, a job, habits, weekend activities and a morning routine that don't really fit?
Like many, I've spent a lot of time not knowing how to set my boundaries, feeling uncomfortable in places and relationships I didn't want to be in. When I turned 18, luckily, I would often take my backpack and go on solo adventures to new countries and they helped quite a lot, because no one was there to check on me, to tell me what to do. As an introvert, I've always battled external pressures to be out a lot, to party, to spend time with people, and don't get me wrong, I like that. But I love to be able to choose when all these things happen.
I chose this photo of my feet for this article because it represents a milestone in my ability to set boundaries. I was 21 and traveling New Zealand, alone. I was living in a hostel filled with people my age and was always invited to stay up late. Knowing my absence could easily go unnoticed (people can always think you're with someone else, it's a good trick), I would often sneak back to my cosy little tent early. That day, on the picture, I got up at 5am to go and take pictures of the sunrise and the sea with the guys who were surfing.
My eyes went from my feet anchored on the ground to the sky you can see below. I could find no words to express how much my heart had grown, how warm it felt, because I simply had decided to make space for my own needs and desires.
There is a lot to learn about boundaries and it's a long and tough journey. But the contentment and the inner peace we get to experience from doing so is all worth it.
I am entitled to nos.
I am allowed to make space for myself.
And I definitely qualify for having my own space.
Make these words yours.