How to start exploring boundaries in order to prioritize your self-care.
Setting boundaries….two words that are easy to say, but the concept is not necessarily easy to put into practice.
Some of us are better at setting boundaries than others, but most of us have some areas that need some attention.
I became pretty good at setting boundaries at work. Sometime in my 30’s, I identified my priorities and became comfortable saying no to things that were not important to me, and yes to things that were. Learning to do that was a process. I think my upbringing and my personality made it easier to accomplish setting boundaries at work. But, achieving this goal in my private life was a bit trickier and is still a work in progress.
For a long time, I did a lot of what I thought other people wanted from me and often ended up resenting it. So I can tell you with certainty that, if you find yourself doing things and then bitching to your spouse or friends or even to yourself, after the fact, you probably have some form of boundary issues.
Learning to set boundaries is by no means a one-step deal. Like every other area of personal growth, it involves a process of self-discovery, courage, action, and commitment. But if you are at all interested in creating the life you want and the one that is yours to have, it’s an essential step. And well worth it!!
Here are a few strategies to support you on your journey towards setting boundaries:
Reflect on your boundary needs by asking yourself the following questions.
In what areas of your life are you feeling overextended?
Are you feeling frustrated or resentful towards specific individuals in your life? If so, with whom and why?
When do you regularly regret having said yes?
What things are taking up your time that mean very little to you?
What responsibilities are you taking on that are not your own?
In what situations do you say yes out of guilt or fear of disappointing someone else.
Take the time to journal and reflect on these questions? Notice how often some of these situations come up for you.
Know what is important to YOU!
Where do you want to be spending your time?
What’s important to you? Your time? Your freedom? Your relationships? Your Health?
Are you spending your time and energy on things that are in alignment with your core values?
What are your core values?
You can’t set boundaries if you have no clear understanding of your priorities.
When you are not sure, take the time you need to make a decision that is right for you.
If you are in the habit of saying yes to things and then regretting it, start by developing the habit of saying something like, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” Doing this helps you break the pattern of automatically saying yes. It also gives you time to assess whether saying yes really aligns with your priorities and is in your best interest.
Avoid saying yes under the following circumstances.
When you are stressed, you are tired or sick.
When doing so would mean taking on something that is someone else’s responsibility.
When you feel uncomfortable or like you are being taken for granted. Listen to your gut. It is better to say no and reassess than to betray yourself.
Believe you have a right to communicate your wants and needs and, if necessary, learn how to develop your assertiveness skills.
Developing the confidence and skills needed to be assertive requires some work and training. You might have to also work on concepts such as self-love, self-worth, and self-respect. This work might sound daunting at times, but it is a fascinating and rewarding process of self-growth and discovery.
Remember that you are worth it and that learning to set boundaries for yourself is a vital part of creating your best life.