If you're like me, growing up, the word boundries had a very negative connotation to it. I thought if you had lots of boundaries it meant you were the type of person that was distant, cold, lacked connection, and dare I say - kinda selfish. But as I as I've gotten older I tried to evolved my relationship with the concept of boundaries and quickly realized I basically had it all wrong.
I began to learn this lesson when I got my first full-time job. A job with very little work/life balance. I would get emails at all hours of the night - sometimes even 6:00am on Sunday mornings (I'm sure many of you can relate). As this dynamic evolved I realized how unsustainable it was. The line of where my work life ended and personal life began became nonexistent. There was no way I could continue this way without completely burning out. I was cranky, stressed and felt like I had no time for myself. I knew something had to give. So I came up with my own personal unbreakable rule - I would no longer send work emails at times I personally didn't want to receive them and I would not respond to emails on the weekends unless they were "urgent" - and I mean code red urgent. At first this made me completely uncomfortable. I thought I would be looked at as a slacker, I thought I'd be less productive and I thought there would be all kinds of push back. But to my surprise my co-workers responded with respect and actually some gratitude. I notice I was way more productive with my time at work, because my time outside of the office became more sacred. Less emails came on the weekends and I was able to come to work on Monday feeling recharged rather than burnt out.
What I quickly learned from this experience is that boundaries are the secret ingredient to making any and all relationships completely sustainable.
So whither it's a work relationship, a intimate one, or most importantly your relationship with yourself - boundaries are the most powerful tool you can use. They encourage true connection because you allowing people to know how it is or is not okay to treat you. By setting boundaries you are showing love and respect for yourself and creating a dynamic that allows you to flourish, instead of burn out. You are not trying to control other people, but instead using the power of your own actions to be very clear with what is important to you.
If you have an area in your life that is exhausting you rather than recharging you, it's very possible you need to set some boundaries. But don't be intimidated! I know it can be overwhelming, confusing or simply foreign to you so below I've included some of my personal favorite resources that opened my eyes to the power of boundaries. Check them out, see what sticks and don't be afraid to give them a try.
Who else better to school us on boundaries then Brene Brown herself. Below is a very powerful clip about how to reframe your perception on boundaries.
This list below was given to me from one of my teachers during a boundary workshop. Sometimes setting boundaries can feel extremely unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Many times we want to back peddle when we feel resistance.
One of the best rules of thumb when it comes to setting a boundary is to be "Kind but Firm"
Boundaries require consistency and repetition. So if you are in a position of uncertainty with your boundary, then try sitting with the statements below to feel empowered during the less comfortable part of boundary setting.
What Do Boundaries Feel Like
It's not my job to fix others.
It is okay if others get angry.
It's okay to say no.
It is not my job to take responsibility for others.
I do not have to anticipate the needs of others.
It is my job to make me happy.
Nobody has to agree with what feels right to me.
I have a right to my own feelings.
I am enough.
Lastly is this wonderful exercise by one of my favorite writers Amber Rae that I find to be extremely helpful when figuring out how to set boundaries. She gives you prompts of how to start at the root of what you value in order to know what you need to do to honor it.