Reclaiming My Boundaries
When is the last time you questioned the boundaries you’ve set in your life? Whether it be with friendships, in romantic relationships, with work, or even family… there are certain defined mental or moral barriers we create for each type of relationship we engage with. These are the do’s and do not’s we’ll accept from the people we encounter.
Sometimes, the closer we allow people to get in our lives, the weaker our ability to stick to our boundaries become. We may find ourselves making excuses for other’s actions, which in turn leads to compromising our own values. With so much technology at our fingertips, we are becoming the biggest generation of justifiers. We see our favorite celebrities endorse it on social media, so it must be okay to try. We think “my boss signs my checks, so if they tell me to do it, I don’t have a choice…” My personal favorite, we tell ourselves “I know they like/love me, they didn’t mean to hurt me.” Where there’s a way to justify it, there is a boundary being weakened.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever found yourself doing something from your “I would never…” list. Did you know it becomes easier to shift your moral stance every time you let your guard down on said stance?! You’re essentially getting more comfortable with lying to yourself… A justification is simply another way to lie away reservations. Studies show there is a part of the brain that changes the more we lie. It’s called the amygdala and with every justification (lie) we tell, the less concerned or guilty we feel afterwards. WE ARE LITERALLY TRAINING OUR BRAINS TO ACCEPT THE VERY THINGS WE SAID WE WOULD NEVER ALLOW.
When I had roommates, I constantly had my boundaries tested! It’s as if boundaries are a challenging concept for humans to comprehend. Back in San Francisco, one of my favorite roommates lied to me about something so silly…and for me, lying is a deal breaker for any relationship. I caught them on social media taking birthday shots from my personal stash. When I asked about it, they made up a bogus lie to get out of it. The irony of it all, I wasn’t going to drink it and I would have told them to enjoy the whole thing had they asked me! I strongly believe they thought they could get away with it because we were the closest roommates in the house and to be honest, they were onto something! While that may have been a small scenario, it got me thinking: How do we set boundaries and hold others accountable, so they don’t violate us and so we stop compromising ourselves?
Communication is the key
Not only do you have to verbalize your boundaries to others, you should practice verbalizing them to yourself too. That may sound silly considering its your boundary, but if you remind yourself why you set this boundary to begin with you’ll be more likely to stick to it. You won’t be talked down by a friend or family member. I find that it’s easier to talk yourself out of something you haven’t spent much time thinking about. i.e. It’s not a boundary that immediately affects your life so why worry about compromising it? (see what I did there…that is a justification).
It’s okay to Say NO
Speaking of friend or family member, don’t sell yourself short just because they asked you to. The number one thing you can do is say NO. Be strong. It’s easier to say no to a stranger but it’s more important to find the strength to say it to loved ones. Don’t justify a boundary “just this once” because your bestfriend asked you to or because you think they would do it for you. Chances are they wouldn’t…In fact, the people that don’t respect your boundaries might not truly be your friends.
R E S P E C T
Well, Ms. Aretha said it best, R- E- S- P- E- C- T find out what it means to me! I’ve always said, in every relationship, first and foremost I want respect. If someone respects you they are less likely to violate your boundaries. They might also consider how you might feel/react in situations before taking action or asking for something unrealistic. And when you respect yourself, something magical happens… you learn your worth and become unwilling to compromise.
Reclaim your time, energy, & peace
When all else fails, if you’ve communicated your boundaries, said no, and realize that the person in question doesn’t respect you… you have to be willing to walk away from the situation. RECLAIM YOUR TIME cause no one else can do it for you. You can’t hold onto relationships that are detrimental to your boundaries. You will constantly feel lost when you are willing to bend for others. Your boundaries are the makeup to who you are; your moral code. Also remember if that person asked once, they will ask again even if it’s years from now. You don’t need that kind of negative energy in your life.
It’s also not always easy to spot when someone is taking advantage of your boundaries. It could be a boss overloading you at work, resulting in you stressing off the clock… Or it could be a significant other with expectations that you’re a superman/wonder woman… Perhaps your friends and family often forget to check in, yet you’re always able to find time when they need you. No matter what situation resonates with you, when you’re giving too much and not receiving in return, that’s an indicator that the people around you don’t value you. The question is, do you value you? Think about that the next time your boundaries are in question.