In the year of our Lord 2022, we should all know what boundaries are. But for those who still haven't fully grasped the concept, boundaries are non-negotiables used to enforce where you stand with a person, place, thing, or idea. Boundaries protect you from various forms of danger, manipulation, or disrespect, and they help you determine the appropriateness of something or someone. In short, boundaries act as that angel on your shoulder, forcing you to make good choices.
When communicating your boundaries—whether at work or school or applying them to friends, family, and in relationships—you should be assertive but respectful. Empathetic, but not overly apologetic. Confident, but not accusatory. And most importantly, firm, showing no signs of backing down or being swayed in a different direction.
Now, what about when it comes to boundaries for ourselves? The truth is, when we think of boundaries, we typically think of them in terms of setting lines with others but never within, causing us to go back on our word by breaking promises to ourselves. This, in turn, causes us to take longer than expected when accomplishing our goals and to run back to situations we should have left. We're in perpetual cycles of turmoil.
Many of us don't think about boundaries when giving ourselves that hard "no" because we feel like we're depriving ourselves of something. We don't always keep our best interests at heart and leave too much room for error, never taking into consideration that we're only doing ourselves a disservice.
Establishing boundaries with yourself can look like many things, but for those who need help, here are four examples of self-boundaries and how to maintain them:
1. Make better financial decisions.
We all have big financial goals, but sometimes we lack financial discipline because we don't know how or when to say "no." We think those little splurges won't matter, not realizing they eventually add up. And if we're not careful, that extra splurge can put a major dent in our finances, pushing us farther away from our financial goals. One way to maintain financial boundaries with ourselves is by making a budget, sticking with it, and always keeping our why at the forefront. Or, if that doesn't help, hire a financial planner or coach for additional help.
2. Block that person who isn't good for you.
There's always that one person who seemingly has a hold on you so strong that you abandon all of your morals, standards, and values to be with them. They disappoint you time and time again, make you feel like you're not good enough, and sometimes put you in the middle of situations you can't navigate. While at times you feel like you're strong enough to reject their advances, they always find their way back because you have not blocked them.
A huge boundary with ourselves that we often overlook is not blocking certain people from our lives. When we fail to do that, we leave ourselves susceptible to their advances and open to possible mistreatment and disrespect. Want to protect your peace? Block that person from everything and enlist some accountability partners to help you never go back.
3. Don't settle.
When it comes to settling, we don't just settle in relationships. We settle for jobs, friendship circles, and our goals because having a little something that resembles what we want is better than not having anything at all. Once the novelty has worn off, we find ourselves continuously searching for that little something time and time again, only to live a life of mediocrity, never being fully satisfied. Or worse, we tell ourselves that we are not deserving of nice things. The only way to get out of mediocrity and reinforce that you are worthy of a life you deserve is to set clear boundaries by not settling for less.
4. Commit to a healthier lifestyle.
And health isn't just in the physical sense. There's mental, spiritual, and emotional health, too. A lot of times we fail in our pursuits of a healthier lifestyle because we are not fully committed to taking care of our mind, body, and spirit. Taking the easy road and thinking that a quick fix is all we need when it should be about making a complete lifestyle change. Want to finally get your mind, body, and spirit on one accord and stop the cycle of constantly starting over? Practice boundaries when it comes to your health by being intentional about the changes you want to make.
Other examples of self-boundaries include allowing time-frames for screen time, not working on off days, adhering to routines, not taking phone calls on certain days or at certain times, and distancing yourself from people who are no longer aligned with who you are. When establishing self-boundaries, it's important to remember that you don't have to change everything at once.
A little goes a long way, so one by one, examine areas of your life that need changing and begin intentionally working towards getting better at them. Because self-boundaries are extensions of self-love and self-care and can only enhance your life when enforced.
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