Boundaries - the definition of boundaries is to see what is okay and not okay. Being able to say yes to what makes you comfortable and no to what makes you not comfortable. I fall for people saying 'we are only concerned about you' when someone says they are concerned and I tell what's the matter. All of a sudden the news has circulated and I am now in a position where I have to defend my boundaries and it drains more energy. The person who I told in the first place had passed on the information to another and the other person had questioned me in front of more people. It is really uncomfortable. My vulnerability is now exposed and it can be humiliating depending on the personal details being circulated.
What was once my private business and something that I was telling someone in private is no more and the trust is broken. Can I forgive the person? Yes, sure, it was my responsibility not to tell them in the first place but I gave in and did tell them! I don't know why, perhaps it's a way in which they kept on and on and on asking questions until I finally gave in or maybe it's the sense of connection that I felt at the time was strong enough. It was this sense of connection that we all crave. I have learnt from this and I know that it's important to practice boundaries to have healthy relationships. It is rooted in love and goodness for yourself and for them.
Boundaries come under the realm of respect, not just for others but for yourself. It is taking into consideration what makes you feel uncomfortable and what is fine to talk about. When someone breaches your boundaries, it makes you uneasy, uncomfortable and sometimes it's a case of reacting in a compassionate way towards yourself and saying - right, I need to reestablish these again and not let that happen again. I have been fooled in the past with trusting my past colleagues when it came to boundaries and under the same realm of 'we are concerned' which is actually a way of getting information from you and spreading it into the drama filled workplace. This breaks trust, breaks walls and breaks relationships.
Lowering your boundaries when you are sick or exhausted is normal. You are vulnerable in these times. You are going through a time where your strength is under pressure and walls are down. People can unfortunately give into the feeling of someone else caring and allowing them to look after you. We all do it, we all go into this 'child mode' - it's natural. We want the connection to another human and meet them in a way that is empathic and authentic. Empathy without boundaries is not empathy so it is important to protect them.
Be compassionate that your boundaries may fall when you are sick and they need to be protected even more then. Perhaps notice when this happens and become more aware when you are triggered. It all leads to healthier relationships and understanding and for those that do not respect your boundaries - were they ever really your friends to begin with if you can't trust them? We are all allowed to make mistakes, especially when we have so readily sought the guidance from others. We are always improving.
For me improving looks like this, it's accepting myself as I am, being grateful to be alive, knowing that I confident in my own skin, I am a beautiful person, I approve of myself, I love myself and I am a work in progress. I focus on becoming aware of my own thoughts, feelings and limits aka boundaries. What is uncomfortable, recognise why and what beliefs pop up. It's recognising these and having the courage to sit with them and still do things that bring up uncomfortable thoughts. It is not accepting things that are wrong for me and protecting my own boundaries. We cannot have a healthy relationship without practicing boundaries.
Recognise that there are people that will always want something from you. They want your time, energy, money, control, reaction - anything. I used to think that I wouldn’t stoop to someone else’s level and not treat them with respect. It is now a case of me seeing respect for what it is and when someone else isn’t willing to give me the respect I deserve, I owe them nothing. That might seem harsh but if you think of life as a computer game and they are sending in bazooka full ammunition and you don't take out your defence mechanisms to fight then they will send in all they have and more until it has worn you down. With boundaries it is not your responsibility to accept the fault that someone has overstepped them, it is your responsibility to protect yours if they have been overstepped. In computer game terms, your health bar would deplete rapidly after boundaries are encroached, to keep it maintained you need to arm up, say no and defend or withdraw when necessary. It is acceptable to revoke access to you when they have overstepped your boundaries. It is a privilege to be in someone else's story and life. Who you share your story with in person is an honour. No one is automatically entitled to it, you get to decide that and that is part of the beauty of boundaries. You have the decision power of who you allow into your life and you decide who gets to engage with you in conversation, go on hiking trips, camping, who you live with, run with, go cycling with - do any activities at all. Over the last while I can describe different types of boundaries as the list below:
Be compassionate towards yourself and remember that fear blocks love. When you do not love yourself then you cannot protect yourself. Boundaries are an act of self-love. Negativity then flourishes where love has been excluded and we may find ourselves in what Dr. Brené Brown calls a shame spiral. Boundaries are necessary for healthy, loving, connected relationships. They are the foundation of deep and meaningful relationships and genuine connection and trust. If you envision life as a computer game, your health line would drop a lot without them. You could continue to fight but eventually your self-identity would die in the game. It is the same thing in real life with that analogy.
For me practicing self-care and boundaries is figuring out what's important to me and how I do that is up to me. It's reading, listening and watching informative and inspiring research. It's also a case of trying different strategies, not only reading about them. One strategy that has come from research is the practicing of gratitude or recognising a shame spiral. We are need meaning - like tokenising in programming. Once we name what we are experiencing which could be a hard emotion like a shame spiral, it loosens its grip, it gives us power over them. I practice gratitude every morning by writing a few things that I am grateful for and it has also been proven in the research from Dr. Brenè Brown and Dr. Shawn Achor that it can make our lives more joyful - who would not want more joy in their live?! Of course, I try these things, I love trying new things. I also love a good podcast and I have already learnt so much from Dr. Brené Brown and she's doing a podcast. I have just subscribed. I would also highly recommend her Ted talk 'the power of vulnerability' , the Netflix show 'call to courage' and also her books braving the wilderness and lots more. This is the link to her website so you might like listening to her podcast on a run or walk. https://brenebrown.com/podcast/introducing-unlocking-us/ Finally, it is also revoking access to those who do not respect me for in essence, boundaries are about respect and when you respect yourself then you realise how peaceful your life is without giving access to people who do not respect your being, awareness or love of life.
You also start to laugh at the audacity of people across the world telling you what to do, when to do it and how to do it. I have laughed for an entire afternoon after some random guy told me to change my YouTube content and followed shortly by can we work together?! People sometimes like to push boundaries for fun, also remember this. It can be something that they have grown up with in the dynamics of their family and think it's funny. In that case, if it makes you uncomfortable, stay away from them and laugh. Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your compass for your boundaries. When it's off course, bring it back on course. We all make mistakes too so be compassionate with yourself if and when you let boundaries fall and allow someone in that you shouldn't have. It's a case of course correction like when flying an airplane from Ireland to the US and the pilot notices that it's gone off course, re-align yourself like the pilot in the airplane. It's that simple, we learn, we evolve and we grow.
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