Two years ago I started the journey of learning what boundaries look like. Over my entire life, I had walked around lacking boundaries and never truly understanding what that meant practically. I did not realise that much of the unhappiness I experienced in my life was because I often over extended myself, was unable to say no and did not know how to solidify my boundaries when people would overstep. This was primarily rooted in an inability to see that I carried around an abandonment wound, which meant that I was deeply afraid of losing people. Worst is, this was operating in my subconscious because I refused to admit some of these truths to myself. It is far easier to live a life from an unconscious perspective because the level of introspection required to admit hard truths to ourselves is often hard to attain.
I started to see that I would often keep quiet when I was unhappy with something someone said or did. I found that my time was inundated with activities I did not enjoy and did from a place of obligation. This is not to say that we would not sometimes have to do things because of responsibilities, but there are areas that require one to say no and we often do not because of fear of rejection and abandonment. We do not want to lose people, so we bend over backwards, accepting bare minimum treatment because we do not believe we deserve better.
I speak from a place of personal experience and unlearning has been hard, and has been a work in progress.
How to learn boundaries;
1. Determine what your boundaries are
There are many areas in your life that will require you to determine what your boundaries are and will be. Often, we have never truly applied thought as to what we will accept and what we will not accept. Boundaries are ultimately a decision made prior to finding yourself in situations as to what you want, what treatment you will accept and how you will handle matters.
- Financial boundaries: Deciding that you do not borrow money to work colleagues. Deciding that you do not borrow money to relatives for day to day expenses, and only for sustainable reasons such as education or business development. Deciding that you do not borrow money you are not okay with never receiving back, therefore any amount that falls outside what you can do without, you will not borrow.
- Personal boundaries: Deciding that you do not have meetings after 5pm on any given day. Deciding that Sundays are strictly for self-care.Deciding that you do not tolerate disrespect.
There are a multitude of boundaries.
2. Decide how you will implement your boundaries
With each boundary you set, you have to predetermine which are you non-negotiable boundaries and which are flexible. This is to help aid you in deciding how to go about implementing your boundaries.
The first thing to know is that you cannot assume that people should know not to cross your boundaries, you will have to communicate them. Affective communication that is polite and assertive, without confrontation, is important. You can also predetermine how many times you will give a person an opportunity to have you re-established your boundaries, after which you need to determine what the escalation will look like.
3. Choose your battles
When going through asserting your boundaries, you will have to pick your battles. You cannot go around getting into boundary conflicts all the time. You will have to work through the process of determining when to lay down your boundaries, when to recement them and when to escalate matters.
In each case, you have to gauge when the time is appropriate. Some matters are best left to simmer over before you discuss them. You will find that people are more recipient when not in the heat of the moment. So, choose your moments and choose your battles. It too is important to gauge the person's character, ebacuse that will help in knowing which approach to take.
Healing your wounds requires active work in establishing boundaries. We all need boundaries, they are the rules of life.
Here's to striving for the best versions of ourselves, one small step at a time.
From one Powerhouse to another
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