This week is very personal to me. I struggled with establishing boundaries in my relationships for years. I still do, and it is not because I do not know how to be assertive, but more because of having the privilege of growing up/immersed in different cultures and have embraced the good of the those cultures/worlds – so to speak. Over the years, I learn that my values and morals as a human being means more than a cultural or religious tag attached to my name. So, I decided that I will live the rest of my life being true to the essence of me that is all human and does not see the world divided or through boundaries of limitation and judgement.
Back to establishing boundaries. I believe we can function at our higher-self level when we have clear boundaries in our commitments to ourselves and clear boundaries with people we have relationships with. So, what are boundaries? Boundaries are like rules we have set for ourselves in different domains of our internal and external life, and we determine & define the what, where, when, with whom of it all. We most likely have:
- Physical Boundary: our personal space, our privacy, and our bodies.
- Material Boundary: our belongings
- Emotional Boundary: a protective inner circumference that separates our emotions from others. So we only feel responsible for our emotions, so we do NOT feel the need to advice others, blame others, or accept others blames. It also protects us from feeling guilty and responsible for others negative feelings, problems, or taking others negative comments personally. This is one of the most challenging boundary for many to set, because it requires a well-defined and healthy internal boundary.
- Mental Boundary: threshold of your open-mindedness
- Spiritual Boundary: Beliefs that connects you with God or the One greater than you.
- Sexual Boundary: our comfort level of sexual touch and activity
How do we set & establish boundaries in our commitments and in our relationships? The answer is very s
- Learn to say ‘NO’ without feeling guilty
- Learn to put the oxygen mask on ‘you’ first – put ‘YOU’ first
The actual establishing of boundaries can be a challenge, because we are so used to being responsible for so much in our lives that has been imposed on us by family, society, religion teachings and obligations, and finally self-imposed by ourselves within those contexts.
I used to pride myself in being a giving, loyal, and kind person. I was there for everyone and anyone, helping them with whatever I could, whenever I
could, forgive them for transgressions of all sorts, fall prey to criticism and insults of distressed ones who needed a punching bag …etc. During those times, I was feeling the ecstasy of ‘being in service’ according to my truth: the ‘giving, loyal, and kind woman, daughter, wife, friend…etc’ I was meant to be. However, in the process my own needs & desires were always secondary or often times neglected. On top of that my self-imposed truths were chipping away on my self-confidence and self-esteem. It was not a happy place to be.
Tony Robbins says “We all get what we tolerate.” And, that’s true. We all have a self-set threshold of how much CRAP we can tolerate. We set that threshold ourselves. But, why do we have to tolerate crap? I had to ask questions of this sort when I decided to amend & set new values to create a new reality for myself. I had to clean the slate one sentence at a time and re-define values from a different-new perspective, because looking at it from that perspective gave me clarity.
Back to answering the question: we put up with CRAP because deep inside we ‘fear a loss’ of some sort. The pain of that loss is usually greater than putting our foot down and say ‘NO’, so we place the oxygen mask on others before we put it on ourselves. We create and cause ourselves so much suffering because we ‘ought’ to be that self-imposed ‘someone’, and save others, because we have been conditioned to feel responsible for their well-being first.
Let’s see how we can liberate ourselves from this cycle of emotional manipulation and unreasonable expectations. Here are some simple steps:
- Nurture Mindfulness (Week 1)
- Exercise Self-Care (Week 2)
- Forgive Yourself (Week 3)
- Establish Your Boundaries, begin taking notice of:
- WHO do you spend time with?
- How do those people make us FEEL?
- WHAT ACTIVITIES do you participate in?
- How do those ACTIVITIES make you FEEL?
- Slow Down —> Take a time-out —> Reflect on your needs & desires
- Pro-actively ELIMINATE persons and activities in CONFLICT* with your needs & desires, instead actively MAKE time for YOU to work towards your needs & desires.
- Practice saying ‘NO’. If saying ‘NO’ is challenging for you, practice ‘buying time’ as first step to get there. Buying time simply means you will check and get back to them.
*CONFLICT: I wanted to elaborate on this a bit. Your feelings are your ‘red flag’ warning signs. So, if someone or an activity is making you feel uncomfortable don’t swallow it up because of your self-imposed CRAP tolerating mentality. Politely & Firmly communicate it.
Here are some words you can use to Establish Boundaries with those difficult people:
- I don’t want to
- I have decided not to
- I understand your point of view, but …
- I’ll think about it
- I am not comfortable with that
- I have a problem with that
- This is what I need/want – I have learned to use this with people who forget what I asked them for in the midst of their intense lecture of ‘what I should be having or wanting instead’ 🙂
- That’s unacceptable
- I’d rather not
- YES, I do mind
- I’d prefer not to
This Weeks Mantra:
I know what boundaries are. I know how to set them. And, I know whom to set those boundaries with.
Here is a guided meditation to follow along in your journey: