If there’s one thing I pride myself on doing over the course of my 30’s, it’s the feeling of coming into my own. The final realization that not everything, or everyone, is deserving of my time or attention, and that others’ opinions shouldn’t take up space in my brain rent-free.
The embracing of a this-is-who-I-am mentality and being comfortable enough that if someone doesn’t like it, it’s no sweat off my back. (Is that the saying?) Sweat off my brow? Shirt off my back? No, I don’t know. You get the idea. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve finally realized this is my life, and I’m going to spend my time doing what makes me happy, and not focus on what others are thinking about my life.
More-so, over the years I’ve learned how to pay more attention to the boundaries I’ve set for myself; or sometimes the lack thereof.
According to Therapist Aid, personal boundaries are, “the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships.”
Something else I’ve learned as I enter into middle age is that life is too short to spend your time surrounded by people who make you feel like crap. You should be seeking out a tribe that understands you, listens to you, loves you despite your flaws, isn’t afraid to call you out on your crap but accepts you for who you are no matter what, and ultimately – who claps and cheers for you.
If you’re finding yourself in situations and relationships where people are doing nothing but bringing you down, why are you still continuing to spend time in that circle?
The goal in life when it comes to those who we choose to surround ourself with should be simple: we should be spending time with people who continuously lift us up. But, it’s important to remember that we should also be doing the same for them.
Friendships aren’t one sided. Even casual relationships shouldn’t be one sided. If people are cheering us on, and we’re just expecting it and accepting it and moving on, what are we truly bringing to that person that affects them in a positive way?
“Setting boundaries is a way of caring for myself. It doesn’t make me mean, selfish, or uncaring (just) because I don’t do things your way. I care about me, too.”Christine Morgan
Why Setting Boundaries with Relationships is the Most Essential Form of Self Care
Why is it Important to Set Boundaries?
Setting boundaries with relationships is the most essential form of self care. These boundaries can be emotional, or physical, and they can involve relationships with family members, friends, significant others, co-workers; really anyone that we come into contact with on a regular basis.
By establishing boundaries, we can clearly communicate our needs, and set limits that protect our inner peace. Boundaries allow us to communicate our needs, discover our identity, and they can be used to set limits so others don’t take advantage of us. It’s a way for us to practice self-care, as well as self-respect.
Without clear boundaries, it can be easy to enter into that gray, fuzzy area. We can fall into the habit of people pleasing, while ignoring our needs in the process.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
This is going to look different depending on the boundaries you are wanting to set, and the relationships they’re going to apply to. But in general, setting healthy boundaries will share some common characteristics.
*Start by being honest with yourself; identifying your non-negotiables; what you will not tolerate out of the relationship. Also identify a roadmap for dealing with the possibility that the person on the other end of the boundary may not hold up their end of the bargain. Will you be willing to walk away from the situation if they aren’t willing to respect you or meet you where you’re needing to be met?
Let go of feeling the need to explain, or further explain yourself. Get comfortable with using “no” as a complete sentence.
How Do You Know if Your Social Group is Toxic?
Taking a long, hard look at the environments in which you’re choosing to be in can sometimes be uncomfortable. But it’s also essential for self care. Are you continuing to submerge yourself in situations that are toxic?
Make a mental note, or journal your feelings, if you feel you’re running into issues with your group. This can be at the workplace, within your friends group or your family, within the home, or within the places you choose to hang out (the gym, etc).
If you’re finding the environment feels negative, overly competitive, cutthroat, or if you’re giving more than you’re receiving, it may be time to come face to face with those truths.
How You Can Show Support to Those Around You
Keep in mind that you have a lot of control when it comes to your environment, so making sure that you’re surrounding yourself with positive vibes only also goes both ways. The energy you put out into the universe is also important as is the energy you’re choosing to surround yourself with.
Being mindful of how you’re treating others is also a great way to show others the way you expect, and desire, to be treated.
Here are four simple ways you can instantly lift someone else up (and in turn, feel pretty dang good about filling your own bucket:
Honor Their Boundaries
You can learn a lot about a person when you truly take the time to listen to them. Get to know the group you’re in; learn what makes them happy, and pay attention to any triggers that seem to cause upset. When in doubt, be open and honest. Have a conversation to help identify their boundaries and do your part to honor them.
When you see a friend or acquaintance doing something amazing (or even doing something simple), call them out on it in a GOOD way. Tell them you noticed what a great job they did.
Find something positive to say about them, instead of critiquing or letting them know you think they could have done something differently. I used to be part of a circle where jealousy was at an all time high. We didn’t congratulate one another on a job well done, or offer a compliment when we saw someone excelling.
Instead, we pointed out the flaws because we were so insecure that we couldn’t just genuinely be happy for another person’s success. I say “we” – because all of us in this circle were guilty of this behavior at one point or another. Circles like that are toxic. If you find yourself in a circle like that and the behavior doesn’t change collectively, get yourself a new circle.
Show Someone You Believe in Them
How does it make you feel when someone encourages you and tells you that you are capable of doing whatever it is you set your mind to? It’s amazing, right? Do that for someone else. Show them you believe in their abilities, in their passion and in them in general. Sometimes just telling someone, “you can do it!” is all it takes to make a difference in their day.
Make Yourself Available
If you are someone who constantly is venting to your friends; needing advice or wanting to talk about your problems, then you need to make sure you’re doing the same for them. Make yourself available, truly available, when someone comes to you with a problem.
Active listening is key; pay attention to what matters to the other person, acknowledge their boundaries and show them the respect that they deserve; much like how you would like to be acknowledged and respected.
Try to understand their point of view, and be supportive with whatever they’re going through. This can even apply to just taking an interest in the other person. Shutting up about yourself to listen to what’s new in their life, and being truly invested in their interests and what they have going on.