A boundary is basically a circle that you draw around yourself that marks your safe space.
For some people and situations, the circle becomes tiny, almost non-existent, and you still feel good about it. For other people and situations, the circle needs to be massive.
It’s all about learning how your body and mind signal you where to draw that circle now. Boundaries deserve a rephrase.
They are the single best thing to implement for your well-being. Here’s how:
1. How do they serve me?
Make a list of all the different ways in which better boundaries will benefit YOU. Don’t let that urge to scroll or get some chocolate interrupt you. Keep going until you’ve found at least ten points.
2. How do they serve those around me?
Boundaries are not just about you. They also help the people around you to see more clearly and to stop tip-toeing around you. Find three situations when clear boundaries will make it so much easier to interact with you.
3. How does it feel in my body when I ignore my boundaries?
Do you remember that last time you let someone walk all over you? Pretty icky, isn’t it? There’s often a physical sensation that comes along with it. Remember that and recognize it earlier the next time you’re about to drop a boundary.
4. How does my subconscious see boundaries?
“Boundaries are egoistic” – “A good woman is a woman who puts herself last” – “I’m way too sensitive” – “People won’t like me if I set strong boundaries”: We all know these narratives. And even though we might know better, they still often subconsciously run the show. Observe your mind and get to know your boundary narrative.
5. How does a different narrative sound?
You know better than your subconscious boundary narrative. How can you rephrase that? A new narrative could be “Boundaries serve me and the people around me”. Remember it the next time you’re about to drop a boundary.
6. How do you care for yourself?
We often avoid setting a boundary because we fear not to be loved or to be abandoned. Of course, that’s not true. The people who love and support you will be happy to see you taking care of yourself. The next time you’re about to set a scary boundary tell yourself in the mirror: “I love you, I love you, I love you”.
7. How do you start?
If you’re a notorious people pleaser and haven’t set a single boundary in the last decade, start small. Test the waters by leaving the party that you didn’t want to go to a little earlier or by not picking up the phone when that one friend calls that you actually don’t want to talk to right now.
8. How do you know when to set a boundary?
Knowing what you actually want and what you don’t want is important in setting effective boundaries. Often, this is not so much based on logic (there’s not too much logical thinking involved in wanting to spend an evening by yourself or not going on holiday with this one particular friend) but on your intuition. Start to connect to your intuition more deeply by listening to it in the small moment, like when you decide what you want to eat.
9. How are people reacting?
One of the reasons we avoid setting clear boundaries is our need to be liked. And fair enough – our ancient ancestors didn’t really stand a chance by themselves when they were banned from their tribe. Nowadays, however, boundaries are not only possible but necessary. How people react to your boundary says more about them than it does about you.
10. How does a successful boundary feel?
Notice how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally when you uphold a boundary. In the beginning, there might be a lot of shame, regret, or self-doubt. But the more you practice, the more you’ll observe your anxiety and stress levels drop. Because your body and mind have learnt that you take care of them – through healthy and strong boundaries.