I hope setting boundaries becomes as popular as gratitude and mindfulness one day. Knowing, understanding and enforcing your boundaries is just as critical to your overall wellness as being mindful and gaining awareness.
In one of the classic scenes in dirty dancing, Johnny shows Baby the difference between his dance space and hers (though I totally get why she was invading). I love using this reference to explain boundaries to both staff members and clients alike. It’s a great visual to show not only how we can define our comforts with physical space but also an example of where we draw lines for ourselves. Where we know we have reached our limit and where we know we can’t give more. There won’t be any invasions of my dance space because I set and enforce my boundaries because I (mostly) like myself and know I deserve to set my own boundaries.
I cannot emphasize enough, how important setting boundaries and enforcing them are to your overall self-worth. That’s right, having boundaries and setting limits as to what you will and won’t accept into your life is directly tied to your self-worth.
Boundaries + Enforcing x (limit setting) = SELF WOOOOOORTTHH! (imagine Oprah shouting this with ephaaaaaasissss!)
What are boundaries exactly? We know where country or state lines are and we may know our credit card limits, these are boundaries that are easy to see. Boundaries are limits we set or lines we don’t cross based on our comfort level, ethics, professional guidelines, beliefs and as well as our spiritual and physical limitations. They help us manage our resources.
Can you work for 12 hours straight? How about 16? What about 24? Where do you draw the line?
I need sleep, it is part of my self-care plan. It keeps me physically healthy if I get 8 hours of sleep, 6 at the least. I know this isn’t an option for everyone but I have tried to build my life around getting the right amount of sleep for me. There are very few events that are worthy of me staying out past 2 am. There are even fewer events that I need to be out of my house past midnight. While I was and still am referred to as an old lady for my love of being home early or falling asleep where ever I am at my usual bedtime, I don’t care. I am healthier and saner for it. My clients get better service, my coworkers get a positive upbeat me who may receive baked goods.
Without boundaries, it can be hard to notice what “stuff” is actually yours and what comes from our clients, bosses, family, friends or total strangers. Last year I have had four different women tell me not to have children (two of whom were total strangers). Without asking for their advice, they put their own issues on me and for a moment I took it. I began thinking, yea they are right, why would I want to add on a new stressor to my life, one that would be ongoing. They were all in bad places and found a listening ear in me and shared items I did not want Whether I choose to have children now or at any time in the future would be up to me. I almost let them take away energy and space in my mind with their own issues. BOUNDARIES! This is where they come in. I wasn’t going to allow their outlook to affect my choices. Two of them didn’t even know my first name!
I often hear that there is a twinge or larger feelings of guilt after a boundary is set. When you cut out or cut off a person who is draining on your energy a normal but unearned feeling of guilt may appear. Acknowledge it and let it go. That is most likely your unhealthy baggage of learned patterns of thinking coming up (see the above about video regarding dance space). Know that when you set boundaries with unhealthy people, places or things they will not respect it or honor it. They will try to break down that boundary. However, you need to keep it up, enforce it, honor it and respect it.
Tighten up those spagetti arms, put on some heels and stay in your dance space!
Where are your boundaries?