Boundaries can definitely be a tough thing to master, they also can have a profound impact on how we interact with others. For a lot of us, we weren’t taught how to have boundaries so it can be tough to figure these suckers out. Maybe the people that raised us didn’t have boundaries and modeled that for us. Maybe their boundaries were waaay out of whack and they taught us that it was actually bad or disrespectful to have boundaries… ladies and individuals that identify as women I’m talking to you especially here! Maybe when we were younger whenever we exercised boundaries, we received negative feedback (i.e. “geez, you’re such a bitch”… or fill in the blank). Maybe we’re so used to having our boundaries violated, it’s just “normal” and we start to become numb or “freeze up”. This probably feels like shit, also, it’s our brain just moving into protective mode for us (because that actually served a purpose back in the day). This is definitely something to recognize… maybe consider connecting with a therapist if this is your experience. The key message here is, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! You’re body is trying to help you, it’s just freaking out a little because of all that awful stuff that happened.
OK, back to it… having boundaries doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, on the contrary, it means that you’re communicating your needs and you absolutely deserve to do this! It may be that nobody ever told you that, or you don’t feel like you deserve to have boundaries… these messages (or lack thereof) can be incredibly challenging for us and can become ingrained in our minds. Turning this around can take some time, but I know that you’re up for the task! Also, it can be pretty revolutionary when you do.
The first piece can be just figuring out what our own dang boundaries are… sometimes this can be the hardest part. Having that conversation with ourselves can be so pivotal. Find out what makes you happy, what makes you tick, what’s really matters to you. For example, maybe you don’t want to go out every weekend because you need to recharge during that alone time. This doesn’t mean that you’re a party pooper or that you don’t like your friends… it just means that you’re finding out exactly what it is you need to be your best you. Maybe you do best with a small group of friends and enjoy having those deeper connections. If you aren’t really sure what brings you happiness, start playing with that idea. Monitor your interactions and see what makes the most sense.
Next, start noticing when this overstep happens… get in touch with that part of you. I really operate from a place of believing that everyone knows what our needs and wants are. This may be deep down… sometimes waaay dep down, but it’s in there. You know that feeling when someone just keeps on creating irritation for you and you kinda want to rip their hair out (and yours)… listen to that! Another issue that happens when we grow up is we’re so often told not to listen to our guts, if something feels off it either is or might be a result of some intense trauma that is still impacting us. If you’re not sure and are in a place of not feeling like you can trust yourself… that’s a big deal! Getting back in touch with that part of you, that “core self” is so important, and therapy can really help with that.
Also, I want to add… if this a pretty intense violation (i.e. sexual assault, physical assault…), then it might be time to end that relationship. Having said that, I totally get that this isn’t always easy in some situations and definitely the business of a whole other post. For the purposes of this one, we’ll say that it’s not an extreme violation.
OK, once you have an idea of what your boundaries are, don’t shy away from shining a spotlight on those suckers! At first, it might be tricky and we may have a hard time communicating our boundaries. We might let it all pile up until, boom! We are yelling our boundaries at the top of our lungs because that person has violated them a zillion times (I’ve definitely been there). Give yourself a break… if this is new stuff, you may go back and forth on the communicating part for a bit. Maybe that can be part of the follow up conversation you have with this person… letting them know that this is a new thing for you and you kinda don’t know what you’re doing, but you’re definitely trying! Imagine how you would respond to this if someone said this to you… it would probably open stuff up for you a bit. As we all know, it’s probably best to not have to many feelings when we’re giving the feedback… I mean, how many times have we sent that email or text as a reaction and then felt kinda like shit afterwards. Yeah, it may have been totally correct, but it may be missing all of the pieces (like, you also appreciate them and think they have a funny laugh 😊). If we can just speak from our heart, it’s all there… “hey, I know you keep asking me to go to the bar, but that’s not my thing anymore… can we just chill at a movie or something?”. For serious… that can even bring you so much closer… you’re being vulnerable, yeah. Also, if someone doesn’t appreciate this or respect this openness… maybe that’s a sign too (that could be another boundary violation).
So… that’s pretty much it! You totally have this and the most important takeaway is that you definitely deserve boundaries! You deserve downtime to do whatever makes you feel good, whatever brings you comfort. Just try practicing this daily (doing something nice for yourself, recognizing that this is something that feels good for you), do this with no time limit and NO PRESSURE! If you get tied up and it doesn’t happen, that’s OK, just try again the next day. Oh yeah, and if you’re interested in connecting with a therapist and you’re in the North Austin area, feel free to reach out for a free phone consultation: 512-553-2054 or click here for the contact page. Thanks for reading!