“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” ~Brené Brown
Do you have the courage to love yourself and set the boundaries you need?
For years I didn’t, and wondered why my life didn’t work. I didn’t really understand what boundaries were or why I needed them.
My severe lack of boundaries allowed me to give away my energy, time, power, and love to others, leaving virtually nothing for myself.
For years I lived in a perpetual state of lack, feeling like I wasn’t enough. Looking back, it makes sense that I didn’t feel like I was enough; I was giving everything I had to everyone else.
Unsurprisingly, things eventually reached a breaking point, and at the age of thirty-six it all came crashing down on me.
Living without boundaries, overworking myself to the point of burnout, trying to please everyone, battling with money, having an emergency operation, and leaving a toxic relationship had left me almost broken. I finally surrendered and realized something had to give, before I did completely. My lack of boundaries was costing me too much.
At the time I didn’t realize that an issue with boundaries was the root cause to the problems I was facing, but I could no longer deny, avoid, or ignore that something had to change. I had spent too long focused on how I could look after and help others, and simply wasn’t taking care of myself.
Boundaries help us to recognize our own needs. They show us it is perfectly acceptable to have needs and to take care of them. Always.
Not having healthy boundaries allows you to deny your needs through numbing behavior, such as: addiction, overworking, overspending, overdrinking, procrastination, people-pleasing, and unhealthy relationships. Whatever your personal preference, all of these behaviors allow you to disconnect from who you really are and how you really feel.
The more you deny your needs, the louder they shout to try and get your attention, so you have to keep numbing away to quiet them down, and that’s no way to live.
We must establish boundaries to promote and protect our self-care, self-worth, and self-love. It is only from that place that we can look after ourselves, which allows us to truly be there for others.
Creating healthy boundaries means that you take responsibility for yourself, your time, your feelings, and your energy instead of allowing yourself to be buffeted around by everyone else’s.
Boundaries allow you to take control rather than allowing others to control you, and conversely allow you to give more to others because you come from a place of abundance rather than lack.
To create boundaries for yourself you have to tune in to your personal needs and your true feelings.
In essence, it’s understanding what feels good for you, and what doesn’t. As you work on your boundaries, start to notice where you may be blocking your true feelings. If you are perpetually busy or distracted, leaving no time to connect to yourself and how you really feel, then you need to make time to reflect, recharge, and listen to what your body, mind, and soul are trying to tell you.
There are two sets of boundaries you need to work on, which I refer to as your internal and external boundaries. Both require you to take notice of yourself, which may be a new experience if you’ve spent a long time focusing on others.
You can see your internal boundaries as those that you have some control over. They dictate how you treat yourself. Do you sleep to fully recharge your system, eat a healthy diet, think and say kind things to yourself, and make time for the activities that light up your soul?
During my twenties there were times when I hardly seemed to have slept at all. I was at University and worked in a credit control office, which I loathed, and also did bar shifts most nights. I’d spend the day studying, then go to the office and then straight to the bar, working until late. I had youth on my side and all the fire to keep going, but my energy wasn’t really channelled, I was exhausted a lot of the time, and I missed a lot of experiences because I was always working.
I needed to set internal boundaries, even though my life was busy, as my choices were a recipe for burnout.
Life will always get in the way, but do you consistently take care of yourself? If you listen to your heart you’ll know if you don’t. And odds are, you can feel if you don’t.
If you consistently ignore your health and well-being, believe every negative thought you have about yourself, and treat yourself like you’re not a priority, you likely feel both physically and emotionally drained.
Make looking after yourself a priority and notice how quickly you start to feel different. Notice how you feel when you allow yourself to sleep enough, eat well, support yourself, care about yourself, and ultimately, love yourself. All the time.
Looking after your internal boundaries is the foundation for your external boundaries, how other people treat you, and how they and external situations affect you.
The more you can understand your true feelings and attune to yourself, the easier it becomes to set and maintain your personal boundaries, in any situation,
Boundaries are a work in progress; they cannot be a one-and-done exercise. Life and the people around you are constantly changing, so you will need to keep managing your boundaries as those changes happen.
Look at any issue you are facing—perhaps you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, for example—and notice if there is a boundary that has fallen away or may have never even existed. Often when we feel overwhelmed it’s because we haven’t taken the time for self-care so we can be in the best place to find the answers we need.
Once you’ve developed boundaries for yourself, it’s time to apply that philosophy to everything and everyone else. These are your external boundaries, protecting yourself from the outside forces that can potentially throw you off balance.
I have found it useful to think of our boundaries with other people as energy exchanges. If there are people in your life who regularly leave you feeling drained, then it’s probably time to look at your boundaries with that person to see what might need to change.
You don’t have to give your time to people who leave you feeling depleted. If they request more than you can reasonably give, you can say no. If they are vocally unsupportive of your choices, you can choose to speak about other topics when you’re with them. If you don’t like how they speak about other people, or they have values you don’t agree with, you can choose to spend less time with them, if any time at all.
I found that working on my boundaries made me reassess a lot of friendships and who I trust and want to be in my inner circle.
If there are people who drain your energy, and you feel worse for being around them, then it may be better for you to remove that person from your life.
If that’s not possible, you can always alter how you interact with them. If face-to-face time becomes too challenging you can use another method, such as a short call, brief email, or social media.
Ultimately it’s about finding what works for you and focusing on the people who protect your energy.
If this is a new concept you can, like I did, feel that boundaries have to be big and solid, like a steel wall, so that nothing can ever get past them.
When I left a very painful relationship my first thought was that trust was always going to be an issue for me, so it would be near impossible to have another relationship again. So I closed that avenue in my mind and focused elsewhere.
Maintaining a steel wall like this is exhausting. It shuts out the good as well as the bad, and we risk becoming closed to life. It also means we don’t move forward in life either, as we’re busy using all of our energy to hold up the wall.
Over time I realized that it was most important that I learned to trust myself again, and could start to build trust with other people at my own pace.
As I continued to work on my boundaries I realized that I didn’t need to use so much energy to keep everything out. I just needed to focus on living my life, how I wanted, and to move away, in whatever way I needed to, from what didn’t serve me. Like water.
For example, when a discussion became an argument that I could never win, going round and round in circles, I realized I could just remove myself from the debate. I didn’t have to prove my point to someone who didn’t want a resolution and was only looking to create drama, I could simply go and do something else.
“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.” ~Lao Tzu
My boundaries didn’t need to be fixed and rigid to work. They, and I, could be like water simply moving through life. Flowing with ease this way and that, toward what served me and away from anything that didn’t. No apology.
This approach kept me open and moving instead of shut-off and stuck, able to adapt to all of life around me.
Even when you are really attuned to yourself and have set healthy boundaries, they can still falter. You can still find yourself giving too much of your time, energy, and power, trying to please everyone else, and losing sight of what you need for yourself.
If you find yourself falling back into old habits, recognize that it happened and start to take care of yourself to recover, in a way that works for you.
When you’ve centered yourself, look for the lesson. There is no failing, only learning. Stay like water and choose to be light rather than becoming heavy and weighed down by the situation.
Recognize your humanity and don’t forget your humility as well. Just as there is something to learn, there will be always be a reason to laugh, which helps you let go and move forward.
About Victoria Leek
Victoria Leek is a coach, NLP practitioner, and writer helping women to find clarity, confidence and connection for self-worth and transformation. You can connect with Victoria on Facebook and Instagram, join her Facebook group: SHE – Reclaiming Your Feminine Power, or visit her at victorialeek.com.
The post Two Types of Boundaries That Can Help You Take Good Care of Yourself appeared first on Tiny Buddha.
My dad had a stroke and never got better. He was in a sort of “awake” coma for two years.
I would visit. He was staring at the ceiling but I don’t know what he saw. Someone had lost his glasses and I knew he was blind without them.
When I first would visit, in year one, sometimes I’d see him twitch or even do a little grunt.
The doctors said he was brain dead but I didn’t believe it. I knew there was someone there. He wanted to get out. He wanted to move.
But gradually he stopped responding to anything. And eventually I was hoping he would die. Eventually he did.
Thank god because I was sick of visiting him.
Until he died I would always think to myself: things cycle.
But that only works until it doesn’t. My dad got worse and worse. Nothing got him better.
I was going to say that “work hard and things get better” is the only life advice you need but it’s just not true.
Sometimes things just get worse. And sometimes, for no reason at all, things get better.
Working hard is a good way to increase the chances of the above. But it’s not the be-all life advice.
I was also going to say, “find the joke in everything”. But not everything has a joke. Not everything is funny.
Although if you can laugh about something, that’s certainly better than not laughing.
Life is pretty hard. And it’s Every. Single. Day.
Most days I have a little bit of fear in me.
I get worried for my children. I think to myself, “What is going on in their heads right now?” and I hope it’s OK.
I’d hate to think I gave birth to someone who is now in pain.
I have fear that bad things can happen to me or people I love.
I have fear that things I work hard on will not work out in the end. They say “it’s the journey” and this is good advice also but if the journey is hard I want to make sure there is some comfort at the destination.
I have fear that people will dislike me for no reason. I try hard to please people and I’ve seen too many times where the harder you try to be a good person, sometimes the result is even worse.
Sometimes I think, “What am I doing to improve myself?”
I always advise: improve yourself. If you improve yourself 1% per day then, compounded, it’s 3,700% a year.
People argue and say, “No, it’s 365% a year.” No it’s not. I said “compounded.”
But is it that important to improve ones self? I guess it is. But I don’t know.
It’s hard to improve. And in order to improve, you also have to be OK at being really sucky at something. You have to be OK with being a failure.
Failure is unpleasant.
OK, here’s my advice.
After all my failures. After all of my successes. After writing 21 books. After interviewing 500 of the best peak performers in the world.
After starting and selling many businesses. After tasting the bitterness of so much failure and bouncing back from it. After trying to get good at so many skills and succeeding at some and failing at others.
1) TAKE TIME OUT OF YOUR DAY TO HELP THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE.
Like, if I can help my daughters today, I will.
2) BE HONEST.
So at least you don’t have to deal with the fallout from being dishonest.
It’s hard enough to live one life, let alone a double life.
3) TRY NOT TO CARE WHAT PEOPLE THINK.
Although I know I will always care too much.
4) TRY TO REST.
It’s good to let the brain wander. Creativity moves around a lot inside the brain. You have to let your brain wander in order to find out where creativity is today.
5) DON’T EAT A LOT.
I’m not saying “starve” yourself. But let’s face it: you’re not that hungry. Eat as little as you can get away with. Don’t snack. Eat fruits.
The only reason for this is so you don’t get sick or feel sick and your bowel movements aren’t painful.
6) NOTHING ELSE IS THAT IMPORTANT.
Let bad things happen and look for opportunities in them.
7) IF SOMEONE DOESN’T WANT TO LIKE YOU, THEN LEAVE THEM ALONE AND FIND PEOPLE WHO DO.
8) NEVER DO ANYTHING YOU DON’T WANT TO DO.
Always try to move in the direction that makes you happy. If you want to read a book about fishing, read that book. If you don’t want to go to a wedding, then don’t go.
9) CREATIVITY = FLOW
And flow is fun. Whether it’s playing a game, or writing, or spending time with friends, try to get into flow as much as possible before you can’t anymore.
10) CALL ONE FRIEND A DAY.
So that you aren’t lonely.
I wish I could follow all of this advice but I’m getting better at it.
Every day I’m getting a little better at it.
Today I’m doing a podcast. I’ve done almost 500. So this has been something I’ve worked hard at.
And then tonight I’m performing on the same lineup as one of the best comedians in the world.
I guess that’s a good thing although I’m pretty scared and maybe I will mess up.
So here’s what I will do and maybe this is the best advice of all:
I’m going to pretend I’m an alien from another universe, another dimension.
And I just landed in this body.
And my mission is: I don’t know why I’m here, but I’m here for a reason. Find out why and complete my mission because I’m only here for another 12 hours and then I’m never coming back to this dimension again.
And yeah, that’s the best advice ever!
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Daniel Schaffer.
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In the midst of an incredibly busy weekend I managed to watch all six episodes of Shrill on Hulu. A comedy about a plus size, twenty-something woman trying to find herself in a world that still stigmatizes weight. I think my initial takeaway from the very first episode was sadness. Sadness not just for her but for every plus-size girl who sacrificed her self-esteem for a man who was not worth her weight in salt. I sat there with a brittle smile on my face realizing that she was me. Yes, this strong willed, body-image badass you see every day on Facebook was quite the opposite not so long ago.
Much like the show, I had well intentioned people in my life “helping” me to lose weight, exercise more or cut calories. I can remember as far back as my 10th birthday someone giving me a Gloria Steven’s membership. Yep, it was almost like saying, “here’s your cake & you shouldn’t eat it too.”
When I was about 13 years old my grandmother pinched my back fat in a buffet line on Easter morning asking me “do you really need that?” Frankly, I do not recall a time when I was not conscious of my weight. Not. One. Day.
Throughout my high school years I was bombarded with all sorts of messages that reinforced the notion that I was too fat to have stylish clothing, that solos in high school musicals only went to petite ingénues, and boyfriends were for skinny girls ONLY. I was told that if I ever hoped to marry I better “lose some of the tonnage.” I started with diet pills when I was a sophomore in high school and lived on diet coke. Guess what? I was still fat. Why? Because looking back on it now I had snowballed myself into an eating disorder. The more food became off limits the more I snuck food, stole food, & binged on food in secret. Yeah, I didn’t purge it…but the psychology of binge eating was born.
Fast forward to college.For the first time in my life I was surrounded by boys…and I stopped eating entirely and was prescribed Ritalin for ADHD. I dropped 40lbs from orientation to parent’s weekend. I starved myself so I might be beautiful and hopefully make college a place where people didn’t ridicule me for my size. Then I gave up Ritalin and a lot of the weight came back on. As I started to gain weight the insecurities of old came back in full swing. Then in my junior year of college I met the boy who decimated me. Just like in Shrill he ushered me out the back door when his friends came around, he hit on other women while I was standing beside him, he made fun of me in public, and he cheated on me every chance he got. Why was I with him, you ask??? Because I was told day in and day out BY THE WORLD that no man would marry me if I were fat. Therefore in my mind I was lucky to have this piece of shit and I should be happy with the scraps of attention he so graciously bestowed upon me.
I sold bits and pieces of myself to the lowest bidder and had nothing to show for it but a shell of myself. I lived like that for two years.
When he physically started hurting me is when my mother finally drew the line in the sand. “You better break up with this kid AND you better pray that your father doesn’t find out he’s laying his hands on you…” I decided to break up with him but to be honest it was a lengthy process because, you know, “he’s so sweet when it is just the two of us.” Then totally by chance I met my husband.
I can honestly say at that point in my life I was freighted by him. Not just because he was hot, Tom Skerrit in Top Gun kind of hot, but because he thought I was attractive. He let me know in every possible way that my curves were appreciated. This man was proud to be with me and wanted to show me off. He treated me as an equal and every day showed me how lucky he considered himself to have me in his life…and THAT scared the shit out of me. It is CRAZY how much this scared me. To the point where I tried to find every flaw imaginable to have an excuse to break up with him.
It brings tears to my eyes recalling how broken a woman I was that I assumed a man who loved me must have some major character flaw below the surface.
This man wanted all the parts of me that I had been told by society “no man could love.” His focus was not on the hard shell I had become but the whole package that made me me. Subsequently, I did the ugly cry all through our wedding ceremony because I could not believe a man would ever love me enough to want to marry me. It is gut wrenching to admit out loud, but it is one-hundred percent the truth.
Fast forward almost 20 years and I have an amazing husband who has supported me though countless diets that have all failed and he STILL looks at me like I am Sophia Loren circa 1962. I have created New England’s only plus-size exclusive clothing store and I have had the pleasure of working with thousands of women over the last 16 years. I am a body-image influencer and hopefully teach women to value themselves by my words and actions. I will admit I still have my moments when that creepy voice from the past still rears its ugly head and spews the lies of my childhood …and then on a random Sunday afternoon I watch a new series called Shrill and I am reminded how far I have come. I give my inner 10 year old girl a hug and get up off the couch and remind myself that “I’m the one with the fat ass & big titties” and I get to tell the world what I’m worth.
Janet Tanury has worked in the fashion industry for over thirty years. Her experience in the early years in NYC as a sales person in women’s fashion showrooms and later as a visual merchandiser demonstrated to her that there was a gap in the fashion industry where plus size women were concerned. In 2003 her experience and aspirations for size equality in the fashion industry led her to create New England’s only plus size exclusive boutique, Botticelli Generous Clothing for the Curvaceous Woman. Botticelli is an award-winning plus sized specialty store located in the heart of New England offering affordable fashions both casual and formal. Botticelli’s service and fashions have earned many awards, local and national, and has become a destination location for plus size women across the country and internationally. Janet is the President of Botticelli and a leader of body image positivity in her community. You can connect with Janet on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Image courtesy of Charis Gegelman.
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