Emotional Boundaries and Stuff We Love to Love and Hate
Ahhhh, boundaries…Don’t you just love them… Or, to be precise – love to talk about them, and be generous with them…Generous, in terms of allowing others to use them, help themselves to them, step on them, play with them…often times abuse them…While you, from the position of the wise old and somewhat battered sage, observe, bitch and moan.
You see, I happen to believe that the solution to our many problems lies in getting clear on our boundaries. In setting them, honouring them and fully respecting them.
So, let’s see…What are boundaries?
There are many definitions of what constitutes a boundary, but to put it simply, they are where I end and where you begin.
They are a manual that helps people how far with you they can go. They are basically saying: Hey sunshine, this is who I am and how I roll. Take it or leave it…With all the love! No hard feelings!
Boundaries are essential for wholesome and healthy relationships and for your general wellbeing. Setting boundaries is a skill that many people never learn.
Most just thread carefully, and play the avoidance game, thinking that by severing the ties and avoiding the real issue and the open conversation they have ‘set’ the boundaries and ‘showed’ others how ‘strong’ they are.
For most people setting boundaries can be very challenging as they require a deep inner work and brutal honesty with oneself first and foremost. Having healthy boundaries means knowing and understanding what your limits are, having clear awareness of what you are no longer available for. What is and what isn’t allowed.
When your boundaries are lose, your basic needs will not be met and when your needs are not met, you are likely to experience a bout of anxiety, overwhelm, overeating, overworking, to name but a few.
You need to be very explicit as to what your limits are – what can pass and what cannot. If you don’t state your limits clearly, others will trespass them all the time. Be clear on your emotional, physical, spiritual limits. Anything that makes you uneasy, anxious, stressed will have to be communicated straight away, otherwise you can get into endless justifications that are very often triggered by self doubt and the fear not being accepted.
Most of the interactions, deals, relationships end up badly because one side has failed to mind read and therefore respect the other side’s boundaries.
Many people agree that boundaries must be respected, yet they themselves don’t honour their word or even their own boundaries.
The good old fear of not being loved and the fear of being branded rude, arrogant, selfish or impolite are just some of the things that stop us from honouring our boundaries.
I used to have a black belt in setting and unsetting boundaries, allowing others to literally walk all over me, claim my time, energy, resources, personal space and expecting me to oblige. And obliged I did. So much so that I ended up ballooning to a safe weight of 103.6kg.
Yes, you read it correctly…I intentionally used the word ‘safe’ there…Why, you may ask? Well, because safe is what I connected to love, respect, appreciation, importance.
My behavior was safe. My availability was safe. My openness was safe. My purse and credit cards were safe. My free coaching sessions were safe. My apartments were safe as they offered a safe sanctuary and served as safe hotels to many a professional user! I was loved for being safe. It was safe being safe.
You see, in order to accommodate everyone and be there for everyone I forgot about myself, and in order to be there for everyone my body did what it new best…It expanded the boundaries. I became huge.
My default setting is not the one of a victim, but rather a soldier, if you like. I chin up and turn up and do what needs to be done.
And it wasn’t until I became a general that things started shift – in my personal relationships, in my business and in my health. The moment I set the boundaries without much noise, I lost all that was not in alignment with who I am and what I stand for, and needless to say, the weight dropped, all 44kgs just left… Without dieting and without rigorous exercise regime.
I share below the exact points that I introduced in my life that helped me stay true to myself, honour my boundaries and lose weight as a happy collateral.
The show was finished, the barriers were up and only those with VIP (Value Intention Purpose) Pass were allowed to remain.
So my dears, if you are currently living without any clear boundaries and are a fertile ground for trespassers , may I invite you to consider the following: would you allow any random person to walk into your house and take anything they want? My guess is NO.
The same goes with boundaries. Learn to say NO to anything that threatens your emotional, physical, financial and spiritual wellbeing. The absence of appropriate boundaries can over time, be destructive and can deplete you of all your resources, especially your sense of self worth.
If you don’t know what boundaries you should set and defend just ask yourself: what would you wish that other people would respect, without you having to tell them.
Once you get clear on what boundaries you want to set, ask yourself what would be the consequences if you insisted on them being respected. This is important, as every decision we make, especially decisions involving our boundaries carry a set of consequences. So, you may be subject to emotional blackmail, you may be ostracized from a community, you may not be invited to a gathering, you may even be fired from your job…The list of potential consequences is long, and so is the list of potential benefits.
By setting up clear boundaries and not allowing yourself to be intimidated, practicing self worth and self respect daily, you will attract the right people and the right opportunities in your life.
Furthermore, you will find yourself having more time to do things that you love, you will find yourself having more energy, getting into the creative flow at a drop of a hat, you will stop procrastinating, and your self confidence will inevitably increase.
Saying NO to what is depleting you, is saying YES to what is nourishing you.
Make it a daily practice to connect with your bodymind and listen to the signals your body send you evey time you tend to repeat the old patterns that are in direct opposition to the boundaries you want.
When you say a weak and incongruent YES, and you wanted to say a juicy and strong NO, what is happening in your bodymind? Do you instantly feel tired, heavy, tense? Do you start yawning? Do muscles in your body tense, does your jaw become rigid? In short, how do you feel?
If you notice that you feel, anything less than light, free, strong, connected, take a bow, retreat and say NO.
You may also want to consider taking a closer look at your life. Do you find yourself being easily pulled into other people’s drama and lives? Has people pleasing become your superpower? Have you lost your inner compass and are overcommitting yourself? Are you staying in toxic relationships out of obligation?
When boundaries become loose they can cause you to feel super responsible for everything and everyone, you will ultimately start feeling powerless and losing sense of self, which ultimately leads to energy drain and permanent state of exhaustion.
The important thing to bear in mind is that setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is a learnable skill. So, if you recognize the symptoms of loose boundaries in yourself, refrain from judging yourself. Stay curious, open and willing to change your current state, reminding yourself that you don’t need to apologize for your needs.
And here is what I did to set and maintain healthy boundaries that ultimately helped me lose 44kgs in the space of 8 months:
- Getting to know my true self – Becoming acquainted with my thoughts, feelings, choices, needs. When you don’t know who you are, you wont know what your limits and boundaries are.
- Be Direct and Assertive – Express your needs clearly and directly. Don’t use softeners and don’t sugar coat. Communicate what you feel and what you don’t appreciate and what bothers you.
- Say NO – Learn to say NO by starting small. Don’t allow others to take you for granted. Sometimes we accommodate people and their needs too much, especially those that are closest to us, that we start assuming that it is ‘normal’ to be pushed around.
- Don’t be a Fixer – Stay out of other people’s (your colleagues/friends/family members) dramas and your need and desire to fix them and sort their lives out for them. Be compassionate, and refrain from being a container for their problems.
- Pause and Breath – When you feel pulled to fix and overextend yourself, stop, take a breath and check in with yourself – How are you feeling? Allow that feeling to come up and stay with it. Ask it what it wants. And honour that. Every feeling wants to be felt, and the sooner you feel it the better.
- Practice Self care and make yourself a Priority – Create a set of daily rituals where you will give time and attention to yourself. Check in with yourself daily, and ask yourself what you need and honour that.
- Practice Self Awareness – In everyday interaction, be attentive and listen. Calibrate how others talk to you and notice how their behavior towards you influence your state and how you feel.
- Ask for Help and Support – If you find setting and maintaining boundaries hard, seek help and support. Reach out to a close family member, a friend, or find a therapist, counselor, coach.
Remember, strong boundaries are not one time event. They are practiced daily. They are not a trend, they are a lifestyle.
Stay true and hustle gently!
P.S. Registrations for NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner in Brussels (June) and in London (July) for 2019 are open. For more information, feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org