For some reason I am all about boundaries this week. I've noticed that we, as a people, lack boundaries. As I have been listening to my clients, friends, and random people who choose to share their stories with me, I have found that this is a universal problem. As someone who had a serious boundary problem (I used to not have any!) I am very clear about my boundaries and I reinforce them using all my Goddess superpowers. I have all types of power statements like "No." "I'm sorry that doesn't work for me." "I am not okay with your (pick one) tone, negative energy, attitude, passive aggression, lack of accountability etc.." "Please do not do that again." Or, a recent favorite, "If this relationship is to continue, I need you to (pick one) tell the truth, control your temper, follow through, show up on time, stop criticizing me, calm down." I encourage you to watch the YouTube video on Boundaries. It's helpful. It's explains what boundaries are, why we need to have boundaries, and how to set boundaries in relationships. In an effort not be redundant I am going to discuss various types of boundaries and why we need them. There are so many but for the sake of this message, I will include areas that require boundaries that most of my clients struggle to adopt and implement:
Boundaries with work: Work is constant. There is always more to do. We decide where work starts and stops. What are your boundaries with your job? How do you prevent your job from consuming your entire life? A lack of boundaries with work causes burnout and resentment overtime. If you love your job, love it enough to not allow it to consume you. Here are some healthy boundaries you can set with work: Don't add your work email to your phone. Leave work at a designated time and commit to leaving at that time no matter what . Have something you never give up for your job. Some good options could be your lunch break, Tuesday night yoga, Wednesday night Bible School, or a weeklong vacation with your family. Protect yourself. Draw a line in the sand and hold it.
Boundaries in Romantic Relationships: Even in intimate relationships you have a right to you. Losing yourself in a relationship does not serve you nor your partner. If you don't have a you, your partner doesn't have a partner (think about it for a minute). In a romantic relationship, boundaries help define where you and your partner start and stop. It creates natural limits. These limits work to your benefit when each partner understands them and agrees to abide by them. What are your boundaries with your partner? How do you keep "you" in relationship with someone else? Some healthy boundaries might include: going to a guys night or a girls night that your spouse does not attend, having a journal or diary that you keep for yourself, preserving 30 minutes of "me time" each day in which you do whatever you need to do for you to be happy, or waiting to have a conversation until you are ready.
Emotional Boundaries: This is a biggie. You have a right to protect yourself emotionally. You do not have to engage in conversations, listen to stories, or be around things that do not serve you. Many of my clients are emotionally exhausted because they are burdened with other peoples stuff. They are just learning that they have emotional rights. If you are tired, you do not have to talk to your mother. If it doesn't serve your highest good, you do not have to talk to your friend, adult children, mother, father, cousin everyday. You do not have to listen to other peoples problems. Loving statements like, "I can't take that on today" offer an exit out of a conversation that is becoming an emotional dump. You do not have to engage in conversations in which someones word choice, tone, or body language makes you feel uncomfortable. Set a boundary! Let them know what you require to create an emotionally safe space. If they respect the boundary, engage; if they don't, disengage.
Physical Boundaries: Your body belongs to you. You have a right to give permission to be touched and take away that same permission as you see fit. For example, when in a relationship someone might have more privileges to your body. If you end the relationship, you can also take those rights away. You do not have to hug people you do not want to hug. It is not rude or mean. It is honest. If your body was violated as a child (through sexual or physical abuse) it is often difficult to believe you have a right to physical boundaries and to assert them. You get to share what you choose to share. You have a right to be touched the way that feels good to you. Tell people what you expect with their touches, and do not allow anything you do not like.
Financial Boundaries: You have a right to your money. It's yours. You worked for it. You do not have to tell other people how much you make. You do not have to rescue your financially irresponsible family members because you have money. You can be a good friend, and not invest in your friends business. Just because you are married, you do not have to use your personal retirement money to invest in your partners latest business idea...and you are still a loving spouse. Get some money boundaries. Your bank account will thank you.
If you find yourself struggling to set boundaries it could result from several core issues. Did you grow up in a family where you learned you did not have rights to your space? safety? privacy? feelings? thoughts? money? Do you struggle with dealing with feelings of guilt or shame for asserting boundaries? Did you learn that it was good to always put others needs and desires before your own? Do you believe that you deserve respect? Do you know how to require it?
We'd love to support you in adopting new boundaries that are loving toward you and others. You have a right to wellness, it would be our pleasure to show you the way.
Dr. Adrianne R. Pinkney
Integrative Wellness and Life Coach