Boundaries -What do they mean to you?
I’m not going to lie. The word ‘boundary’ sounds about as boring as ‘meditation’. Being bored, where you literally wanting to burst out of your own skin is not exactly a ‘go to’ motivation. My playful, inner child sees boundaries as limits and experiences other people’s ‘sensible’ approaches as diminished, shut down and COLD.
Turns out these ideas are having quite an impact on my life. And none of it is fun. So how do you make boundaries (and indeed the pause or meditation needed to consider the boundaries) into something exciting?
Boundaries take courage (ok, go on then, I’m in!) to love and take care of ourselves, even if it involves disappointing others. Mmm…
Let’s start with an example. I gave up alcohol and had a go at clean eating and intermittent fasting in the month of July and was able to drop about 12lbs. Losing weight meant I had more energy and joy in my fitness not to mention a lot of fun in the summer sales. I then decided to let this new standard go in August as I was on holiday with my family and my birthday and a wedding of a close friend was coming up. I conflated relaxation, fun and connection with others with lowering my standards and dropping a habit which was supporting my physical wellbeing, a ‘boundary’ if you will.
Instead of eating intentionally, I impulsively sampled what felt like every cream tea provider in Devon. For my 41st birthday, I had a few drinks with friends who love me for who I am and definitely don’t need me to drink to connect with them. Hardly a binge but the disruption to my sleep drained my energy and led to poor eating habits for days. I felt resentful, bloated and tired which is a clear sign that I have bulldozed my boundaries. I woke up diminished, shut down and cold this morning (sounds familiar, right?) and lost it with the kids when they weren’t ready to leave the house on time.
‘When I try to be everything to everyone else, I lose me, and that’s who they wanted in the first place’. Anonymous
So here’s the exciting, sparkly bit: Healthy boundaries are evident when we know who we are or, as Dolly Parton says, when WE LEARN WHO WE ARE AND DO IT ON PURPOSE.
Boundaries are evident when we accept and are not ashamed of our emotions and feelings in all our states (including those we had when we lose it with our kids – an old shame spiral for me). Boundaries mean valuing your own opinions and intuition and not deferring to others.
What I have realised is that having boundaries means remaining intentional, conscious and on an ‘even keel’ to get my needs met. For me, this starts with prioritising a very basic need: sleep. Now I realise that boundaries are beautiful, I will be going to the wedding at the end of this month sober - as me on purpose.