Happy, Healthy You – Setting Healthy Boundaries
For most of my life, I used to be the kind of girl who said to YES to everyone’s requests and demands of me. Even if in my heart I didn’t want to do what was asked of me or really didn’t have the time to squeeze it into my already busy life. It didn’t matter who asked me: husband, close friends, acquaintances, coworkers, bosses or family members. Honestly, I didn’t even know what a healthy boundary was, let alone know how to set them. I am grateful to say that there are many areas in my life now where I know how to set healthy boundaries for myself. It took me awhile though, but now I have gotten so good at it, it has become part of who I am. I can wholeheartedly say that setting healthy boundaries are something I do everyday without giving it much thought. It was a huge game changer, helping me to take back control of my life. It contributed to a completely new me. I am a much happier, healthier, less stressed and calm person.
It all started a few years back when a dear friend, who was a Behavioral Therapist, let me borrow her cherished book by Anne Katherine. Its called, Where to Draw the Line, How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day. It was very well written, in language I could easily understand and more importantly, apply in my life. The book not only taught me what boundaries are, but explained in detail all the areas in my life to set healthy boundaries, if I chose to do so. For example, boundaries can be set in the areas of time, communication, anger, friendships, intimacy, possessions, internet/technology, and even food to name a few. I think the biggest boundary I felt I needed to work on was guarding my time.
I have learned to not immediately commit when someone asks something of me, but rather I tell them I will get back to them. This gives me the time to look at my calendar and also check in with myself (my gut) to see if I really want to do it. For example, if I accept a morning invitation, I disclose ahead of time I may not be able to make it if I wasn’t able to sleep well the night before. The results in my life have been so dramatic because I no longer force myself to do things. The frustration and inner bitterness I used to often feel inside of me as I begrudgingly did something has disappeared. I experience not only living in the present moment but also being genuinely happy with my use of time and commitments.
It is very empowering to say the least, as it enabled me to say NO without the guilt, for the first time in my life. I now possessively guard my precious self care time, whether its time at the gym or time in the kitchen prepping healthy food. It has meant that I have had to turn down offers for early morning coffee with girlfriends, or find time to get together that works for both of our schedules. Of course, I know there are times as adults, where we have to all do things in life we don’t want to.
Another difficult, but huge change for me personally, was with the choice of close friends I now let into my inner circle. When I made an honest evaluation of some of the friends (or family) in my life, I noticed an unhealthy pattern for sure. Because I was a person that craved acceptance and wanted everyone to love me, I had a few one way relationships. I was loyally devoted and would be there for them for all their ongoing drama and/or relationship problems. I would continually give them hours of emotional support and a listening ear at all times of the day, dropping whatever I was doing. I finally realized these one way relationships were only about them, seldom receiving any support back. You know the people that love to use you and drain all your time and energy from you, leaving you exhausted? To clarify, I am not talking about mutually supportive friendships, where you are both there for each other thru life’s ups and downs. Now I feel better equipped to set healthy boundaries in all my relationships, trusting myself to give them the part of me I choose.
I must say that the part of setting boundaries I wasn’t counting on, is how some people will not like it one bit. Some people in your life will not like your new inner strength and self respect/love. They might not respect your boundary setting and try to blow past them, ignoring your request. I will never forget the very first boundary I set – as that is exactly what happened to me. She didn’t like it one bit and I had to reset and firmly restate the same boundary maybe three times, with her being quite frustrated with me. I wasn’t prepared with how hard it would be for me to stand my ground, but I was proud of myself that I did it. The self education, awareness and diligence on my part has been well worth it. And I cant encourage you enough to give healthy boundary setting a try.
Here’s to the freedom of setting healthy boundaries! May all of you experience the personal empowerment I have!