Turns out, they are foundational for living the lives we want, and essential for preventing the 'burnout and checkout' way of living so many of us find ourselves in. But how often do we put aside time to carve them out and define them for ourselves....
If all you hear are crickets and early morning traffic right now, ha! Ya, us too.
Well, let's change that.
Yesterday we asked you to reflect on where your energy is going. For this morning, grab a paper or notebook and ask yourself:
Where am I feeling resentful, or stretched too thin?
Where do I feel I'm giving alot but not feeling supported in return?
Do I feel taken for granted sometimes?
Write any answers down, without judgement.
- Do you feel this way with certain friends?
- Co-worker dynamics?
- Family obligations?
- Pulling too much of the weight, or doing more than your share of the effort with a romantic partner?
In each case where we feel we are giving or stretched too thin, it may be because we have allowed ourselves and those around us to cross our unspoken boundaries.
Recognizing and saying no prevents us from falling back into a loop of giving until we burn out. But if we don't know what our boundaries are, it's much harder to be proactive and to recognize when they are about to be crossed.
1. Make a list of what you want, but don’t yet have, in different areas of your life.
Make sure to include work life, home life, relationships, family patterns, health, finances, spiritual path, and any other areas that are important to you.
2. Make a list of what you will never tolerate again in your life.
This could include patterns from past lovers, friends or family, or even our own inner dialogue and habits.
This question is key--when we can poinpoint those moments of 'I don't want this to keep happening' or 'I don't want to feel this way at work/with friends/with lovers' those are clear signs there is a boundary there that has been crossed. Time to define those boundaries.
3. How would you like to strengthen boundaries in various areas of your life?
- I want to strengthen my boundaries around health by ___________.
- I want to strengthen my boundaries at work by _______________.
- I want to strengthen my boundaries with family by ______________.
- I want to strengthen my boundaries around finances by ___________.
- I want to strengthen my boundaries around relationships by ___________.
- I want to strengthen my boundaries around fun by ___________.
- This is important--if we don't build fun into our lives, we fill it with obligations and work, which can take its toll. Fun is vital too.
- I want to strengthen my boundaries around ________ by ___________.
- I want to strengthen my boundaries with MYSELF and __________ by _________.
- This last one is key--we often put ourselves last, neglect self-care, break promises to ourselves because we think others and other priorities are more important. So, make a few boundaries for you, too.
Once you have these boundaries written out, play with them, edit them until they feel right.
Go out into the day with these boundaries in mind and see how they feel.
Sometimes it isn't about overtly saying 'no', but simply you changing your behavior or words. At work maybe it's as simple as telling your boss or co-workers that you need to leave on time today due to an obligation (hint: that obligation is you!), rather than staying late again without pay.
Or it means shifting the conversation with a friend who often leans on you with their problems but doesn't ask about you.
Or speaking up and lovingly letting your mother know that her worries, while well-intentioned, are not helpful. But instead her insights and wisdom would be even more appreciated rather than her worries.
You may find that the more you exercise your boundary muscles, the more in control, energized, and empowered you feel.
By setting boundaries, it's not about saying 'no', being selfish and giving less to others. It's really about telling people in our lives who we are and what we need. When we say no to the things we don't have the desire, time or energy take on, we can then say yes to the things that really matter. Only then can we show up more fully in our work and our relationships.
By communicating boundaries, we protect our time and energy so we don't give too much. In doing so we take a stand for ourselves and what truly helps us live the life we want. The added power in living like this is it will inspire others to do the same – a domino effect of clear, healthy boundaries and people taking a stand for what they need.
Hit play while you scheme and dream this AM...