Today, Stable Lifers, we are talking about the mythical unicorn...boundaries. How many time have you heard things like: "You have to set boundaries" or "That is just crossing the boundary". Here's the big question....What exactly are boundaries? Frequently, when clients are prompted to discuss their boundaries, many have difficulty verbalizing what boundaries they do or do not have. Most of the time this inability to explain is because they don't really know what boundaries are, nor what it takes to set boundaries.
We recently had a great group of women out for our women & horses boundaries Workshop. During the two-hour Workshop we explored, both educationally and through Pony games, what boundaries are and why they are so important in our lives, especially as women.
What are boundaries
The definition of boundaries is quite simple it is a limit or space between you and the other person, a clear place where you begin and the other person ends, or simply, space between you and the other. Boundaries can be non-existent and loose to extremely rigid, whereas healthy boundaries are in between these extremes. There are physical, mental, emotional, healthy, and unhealthy boundaries. Of course it's very important to mention that boundaries are subjective, and usually culturally driven. This means that what's a boundary for one person, may not be a boundary for the other, so boundaries get crossed frequently and without intention. It's very important for us to understand this, so when boundaries get crossed, we don't take it personally.
Why set boundaries
Initially, setting boundaries is a very important part of establishing our identity, it's a way to decipher between our self and our herd. Boundaries help us set responsibilities for ourselves and others, and helps us make decisions, especially those of a difficult nature. When we set healthy boundaries for ourselves and others, we experienced healthier relationships, less resentment, anger, stress and burnout, We can also find more fulfillment with our personal lives, work lives, and we are more likely to be involved in self-care routines when we have healthy boundaries.
Women + Boundaries
As women we are pulled from many different sides, work, home, loved ones, children, public and even our own thought patterns. We are inundated with expectations and demands - external and internal. To dig further into this, it's important to note that it wasn't all that long ago that we would have all been housewives. Just 50-60 years ago, women were expected to be nice, quiet, kind, sweet, and pleasing to their husbands. To a certain extent, we have being taught through osmosis that to be a 'nice woman', we have to be all of these things. To add to our social conditioning, in 2018, we now are all expected to have a full-time job, be a perfect parent, look great at all times and have an Instagram-perfect life on top of all of these external pressures. Not living up to our perceived standards of what a woman is can lead many of us to put additional internal pressures on ourselves. This can lead to us feeling guilty. We feel guilty when we say 'no' to a night out with our friends, we feel guilty when we ask our husbands to make dinner tonight, we feel guilty when we just want to lie around on the couch in our pajamas on Sunday instead of taking the kids to the park... guilty here, guilty there, guilty, guilty everywhere.
How do we set boundaries?
Understand Our Morals/Values
One of the most important parts of setting boundaries is to take a good look at your values and morals. What you value in life is definitely going to have an affect on the boundaries that you set and maintain. Some people believe that financial wealth is more valuable than friendship, these people normally have strict boundaries set around their time and making money, as opposed to spending time with their friends/family. Other people may value family relationships more than financial wealth. These people will probably have more boundaries around spending time with their family, and taking time off to do so. What are your values? Find out here.
Examine Your Current Boundaries
Does your boss always give you extra work right before your break?
Are you phoning into work on your day off?
Does your husband leave you with the kids so he can go and play sports with the boys, even though it's your turn to go out?
Does your partner spend more than you wish them to spend?
Do you stay up later than you should just to spend some extra time with your spouse?
Do you pick up the phone when your parent calls, even though you're busy or don't feel like talking to them?
Do you put pressure on yourself to look good in the eyes of others?
Do you ever call yourself or others nasty names?
These are all common issues that cause unhealthy boundaries. It's very important for us to examine the areas of our lives where we: (a) need to establish boundaries; (b) can let up on some of the excessive boundaries that we have; and (c) where we have non-existent boundaries.
It's essential to note that we also need to have boundaries with ourselves. We often speak to ourselves in very unkind ways. We use words and phrases with ourselves, even though we would never speak to anybody else like that. 'I'm such an idiot'. 'I can't do that, I'm not smart enough'. 'That would look horrible on me, I'm too fat'. These things that many of us wouldn't think twice about saying about ourselves, yet we would never say the same things to a friend. It's time that we don't allow this behavior from ourselves. When we set boundaries with ourselves and successfully maintain them, it builds our self-esteem and we then feel more empowered to set and maintain boundaries with others.
How To Set Boundaries
After you have looked at the boundaries that need some adjusting in your life, it's a great idea to make an end goal for yourself. For example, 'when my boss brings extra work right before my lunch, I will tell him that I will happily complete it once I have eaten'. This is the end goal, not what you are going to do right away. It would feel absolutely uncomfortable for everyone involved, especially you, to go from no boundaries to assertive boundaries, just like that. Instead, it's best to make a plan of action. For example, (1) within one week you will begin to go on lunch at the same time every day; (2) within three weeks you will let your boss know that you are happy to complete the work as quickly as you can; (3) within four weeks you will address your main goal; (4) you will maintain your goal long term.
Additional to setting your own personal boundary goals, it is also important for you to consider the following:
For more information on how you can start a boundary goal plan, contact Restorative Reins at firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is written by numerous contributors from our business and other programs.