Boundaries: A Quick Tutorial on Self-Preservation

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Boundaries are the yes and the no that guide our life. They give us clarity and guidance. Boundaries are driven by our intuition, our set of values and by our life mission.  If we truly check in with what we truly value and what we want boundaries come easily, but we all know that things get in the way of our voice. One of those things is expectations from others and our conditioning to expect certain things of ourselves. The job here in setting boundaries is to shed those expectations and rebuild ourselves in a way that we see fit.  The following is an taken from the Boundaries module in my Self-Care Like a Queen Course. 

Riverbanks.

Boundaries give us direction in life. Many of us feel lost, pulled every which way, but mission driven boundaries are like the river banks to guide our beautiful life. A river is mutable and shifts within those banks.  Boundaries exist where self-love exists and self-love and boundaries are built by a self-care practice. Self-care shapes our riverbanks.

Poor boundaries leave us living lives we don’t want, people pleasing while we remain empty or miserable, and resentful. We teach ourselves and those around us what is important by investing in our self-care. Poor boundaries leave us feeling lost, not knowing what to do next.

Here are some signs that boundaries are poor:

1. FEELING OVERWHELMED BY LIFE. This is because of not limiting what comes in and out of life. There is no dam directing the water to not overflow. Boundaries limit overwhelm.

2. CODEPENDENCY.  When we rely on others to make decisions excessively we lack boundaries. When we do things only because someone expects us to or say they cannot do alone, our boundaries get blurred. When we don't let someone stand on their own two feet, we do them no favors.

3. NUMBING OUT. Feeling lost, directionless and not caring is a sign of lost boundaries. Boundaries provide purpose. Without them the river is too overwhelming and the tendency is sometimes to just give up.

4. BEING RESENTFUL, ANGRY AND LIKE NO ONE HAS OUR BACK. We teach others how to treat us and we do that by setting value driven boundaries. We cannot blame people for taking advantage if we do not teach them how to treat us. We cannot be resentful that our lives are a mess when we haven’t guided them to be driven by what is truly important to us.

5. FEELING SMOTHERED OR TRAPPED.  Sometimes when people’s boundaries are weak they look for a stronger person to guide them. That turbulent river can be scary and if we are the least bit in calmer waters, then those people will find us to cling onto. There is a difference between being a temporary support of someone passing through a messy time versus constantly needing direction. Someone with good boundaries will feel the difference easily and know how to handle it. Setting good boundaries starts with intuition and really looking at what is important to us regardless of what anyone else thinks.

Types of Boundaries:

1. PHYSICAL. How someone is allowed to engage with us physically. Our sense of safety and security and trusting our intuition to guide us to safety. 

2. FINANCIAL BOUNDARIES. Generosity based on value driven boundaries versus being taken advantage of financially out of misguided obligation.

3. EMOTIONAL. How do people or situations make you feel?  Who is allowed to know about our emotional lives?  How are others allowed to speak to us? How are we allowed to speak to ourselves?

4. MENTAL. What is allowed in and out of our minds. What kind of media do we allow in?  Do we allow runaway thoughts drive us or do we let our values drive us?

5. SPIRITUAL. How can values drive our boundaries with our spiritual selves? How do we allow things to enter our spiritual selves, especially if we happen to be sensitive people?  Do we allow enough grounding to engage with the world around us?

Levels of Boundaries

1. FLEXIBLE. Boundaries do not always have to be rigid, after all we can change our minds. We must however be clear on boundaries we allow ourselves to be flexible on. For example, if we have a young child or dog we cannot expect them to perfectly respect our boundaries all the time. We can teach them and allow for flexibility until then. Create as much boundary as possible. For example, with my son he is no longer allowed to rip my shirt down to nurse as he pleases...I mean you have to start somewhere.

2. RIGID.  Some situations and areas require rigid boundaries. It will be obvious because our insides scream when these boundaries are violated.  It doesn’t matter if it makes sense to others or not.

3. SOMETHING IN-BETWEEN.  Intuitively, value, mission driven boundaries are the best. We never want to be prisoners of rigid boundaries nor do we want to be too flexible all the time. Always check in with values, mission and intuition when addressing boundaries.

Practicing Boundaries:

1. Start with why….what kind of life do you want? What is important to you? What makes you feel good? What makes you feel bad?

2. List your values.

3. Create a life mission statement which is a few sentences explaining what is important to you.

4. When you question something...it will probably correlate with a strong feeling in your body. Listen to that feeling.

5. From there you can evaluate decisions based off these feelings, your values and your mission statement.

6. You can even read your values and mission statement everyday as a reminder of your boundaries.

7. Have clear agreements and create awareness around your boundaries as necessary.

8. Openly discuss if someone violates boundaries OR simply say no. After all, you don't owe everyone an explanation. 

9. If someone continues to violate boundaries, ask if they should have a place in your life anymore.

10. If you continue to violate your own boundaries and values, seek outside help from a therapist and/or a coach.