When I was a bit younger, I could definitely be described as a top-notch people pleaser at all costs to myself. I didn’t even recognize it as a problem. As time passes and you get older, you realize that you’ve lost yourself. You don’t know who you are, what you like, and even what makes you happy. You become unhappy and feel stuck. This was me at almost 40.
What woke me up was a stroke. Yup, a stroke at 39.
One of the benefits of this stroke was that while I was recovering, it gave me time. Lots of time to think. This is when you hop off the hamster wheel of life. What is the hamster wheel of life? It’s when you’re so busy just going through the motions, you’re kind of on autopilot, and you realize you are not living but only existing.
Learning to set boundaries and maintain them was the beginning to my very important self-care practice, and I would love to share with you how to get started.
Setting boundaries might sound a bit confrontational or limiting. But actually, it’s one of the most important forms of self-care/self-love and it is not limiting but actually very expansive. It can help you live your life more fully being authentically yourself.
What exactly is a boundary? A boundary is a limit we set around what we consider acceptable and unacceptable behavior. What we will do or not do, accept, and tolerate.
A boundary is very personal, it has nothing to do with another person. It is our own setpoint for what is acceptable in our life and it is our responsibility to set and maintain them and no one else’s. It is also no one else’s business what your personal setpoint is. Everyone is different. So in turn, everyone has different boundaries that work for them.
If you feel someone has stepped over one of your boundaries, it’s because you let it happen.
It is not someone else’s job to uphold and respect our boundaries, it’s our job.
If you set a boundary and don’t hold to it, then you will send the message that no one else has to respect it either.
We teach people how to treat us.
It’s really about taking care of yourself and setting those standards.
If you’re feeling like you’re not being treated right or maybe you’re feeling resentful, this is a sure sign that you need to reset some of these boundaries.
A lot of times we might agree to do something or be and act a certain way just to please someone else or to not anger someone. This will usually bring up feelings of resentment for the activity or the person. This is not a great place to be if you’re trying to be the best version of yourself in the world.
Learning to set and uphold boundaries protects your energy by saying yes to things that bring you joy and saying no to things that don’t. You have every right and I would say it’s your obligation to do this for yourself.
Learning to set and maintain boundaries I believe is the foundation of all self-care.
Here are 5 ways to set boundaries and create a happier life:
- Take responsibility for your boundaries and start respecting them. This might also be you just starting to create these boundaries. This is the first step. Then you need to respect your own boundaries or no one else will. For example, if you set a boundary of not answering any business calls after 5 p.m. and you tell clients this, you need to honor this yourself first. As soon as you cross that boundary and answer the phone at 5:30, that client will know there really is not a boundary.
- When you’re making a decision about something, really check in with yourself and make sure that it’s really something you want to do. Make sure it’s not out of obligation or expectation. If you’re in a situation where you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself, Do I need to set a boundary here? How do I really feel?
- Immediately course correct as soon as you realize a boundary has been crossed. This might take some practice, so don’t be hard on yourself. Change takes time. Also remember you don’t need permission to change your mind about something because you feel differently. If you need to change a boundary, know that this is your right to take care of yourself and you do not need permission.
- Learn to refocus attention on yourself and how you feel. Learn to, at the very least, take your own feelings into consideration as much as everyone else’s. Eventually, this should change into taking your own feelings into consideration first and making sure you feel great about a situation. This does not mean you don’t care about others, it just means you’re checking in with yourself first. You want to make sure you’re aligned with your decision. This supports and protects your energy and helps you live more authentically as yourself. You’re respecting your needs and staying in touch with who you are as a person.
- Know that this is self-care. It is how we can put our best self into the world as a happy person that is not drained. As women we tend to be more nurturing and sometimes are taught to care for everyone else first, put everyone else’s needs first, and then accept whatever is left is for us. This consists of not much or nothing at all for a lot of women, and this happens for most of their adult life. When we don’t check in with ourselves and know our limits, we begin to disappear, and we can lose our sense of self. I’m not saying this doesn’t happen to men also, I’m just saying it’s more common for women, and some women even wear being selfless as a badge of honor.
This needs to change. I think this is why so many women feel lost or stuck as they reach midlife. They have spent so much time putting everyone else first they don’t even know who they are and what they want anymore.
This can be easily changed by reconnecting with yourself and then setting clean boundaries and maintaining them!