By Charmaine Griffin
In a perfect world, our needs would always be met by others without having to communicate them. But life isn't perfect, and we weren't born with cosmic labels expressing our boundaries. So, we learned at a young age to say, "no." As we grew older, our "no" may have turned into isolation, suppression, and passive-aggressive behaviors. By setting healthy boundaries, we re-learn how to give a voice to our highest selves. We create space to heal the wounds caused by codependency, abandonment, and internal blockages.
Take a deep breath and think of a time where someone asked you to do something you didn't want to do, or they acted in a way that didn't make you feel good. How did you react? Did you want to say no, but you said yes instead? Was it difficult telling the person they hurt you or made you uncomfortable? How did your response affect the outcome? As you reflect, let's explore a few strategies to help increase your confidence around setting boundaries.
Knowing what your body is communicating to you is the first step in understanding your boundaries. If you are anxious before making a decision, take the time to listen to whatever that energy is trying to tell you. Pause, put your hand at your heart chakra, and check-in with yourself. Is this something you want to do? Is this action serving you? What about this decision or interaction is making you uneasy? Once you are aware of the emotions in your body, it will become easier to recognize a boundary.
Communicate Your Needs
We all need something, and at times we are much quicker to address someone else's needs before our own. Do you need to sleep? Are you overwhelmed with tasks? Are you uncomfortable with someone's behavior and need time to process? Share your needs with others and ask them to hold space for you, whether this means giving yourself time to rest or limiting behavior that affects your mental health.
Practice Saying Maybe
The word "no" is often difficult to say when you have trouble setting boundaries. At times, you might be genuinely unsure, or emotions came up after you've given a definitive answer, and you aren't sure how to address it. The words "maybe" go a long way, especially when asked to do a task or attend an event. The word gives space for you to think over your decision after you've taken the time to see if you have the extra capacity.
Take A Break
At different periods of our lives, like transitions from marriage, children, moving, new careers, and breakups, our ability to give to others is limited. You may need some space and alone time to spend time with yourself and take time away from everyone's demanding needs. If you are a parent or you have a partner, communicate and schedule a time for yourself to pause – this naturally creates a boundary around other people demanding your energy.
Taking care of yourself is an expression of self-love. When you start to love yourself through your actions, you naturally create a boundary against possibly codependent behaviors. Spending time putting yourself first through the act of self-care keeps your cup full, and your time busy, making it easy to say no or "maybe," as needed.
For many of us, setting boundaries is overwhelming. Get in touch with your needs, then slowly practice expressing them to others. Rinse and repeat daily.