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.
Featured image by Tim Robberts/Getty
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32-year-old social media influencer and mother of five, Ariel B, did not set out to tell her story; but it was her truth that set her free. Her truth is also the inspiration for her new podcast "This Too Shall Pass," produced by Idea To Launch Productions. The podcast delves into Ariel's life and journey as a single parent and a domestic violence survivor. But it also serves as a window into her past traumas that have fostered her resilience.
In an exclusive interview with xoNecole, Ariel B. reveals that her online following grew after she decided to share the realistic, non-curated parts of her life on social media at the advice of her therapist. "Growing up, I was taught to hide things that made you seem less than," she says. "I didn't mind speaking at the shelter for women and children. I didn't mind speaking in my domestic violence group with other women, but I was ashamed to talk about it with people that I felt had a perfect life. So [my therapist] said 'No, you need to get used to telling your story. If you don't like it or you feel some kind of way, just delete it.' I started first on Instagram, and that was probably the first time I dipped my toe in the social media world of telling the truth."
Ariel's followers became inspired by her honest and raw day-in-the-life perspective: the days when she would be over her budget, her kids' rooms wouldn't be the tidiest, or when she'd be running late for pick-ups and drop-offs. Her relatability made single mothers everywhere feel seen, but there's much more to life Ariel's story that she's found the bravery to open up about.
The Florida native had her first child when she was 16 years old. Growing up in a middle-class suburban family, she says she felt judged by family and peers for having children out of wedlock. "I already had two kids before I got married," she says. "And when I got married, I think that was my parents' sigh of relief. Like, oh my gosh, she's finally married. She's not a single mother of two. She should be safe. It was a disaster."
Ariel says marriage was great in the beginning. Her ex-husband presented himself as loving and was a proud stepfather to her two children. After welcoming two more children with her ex-husband, she says that's when the problems started. "We were arguing all the time. The finances were bad. And then it got to the point where he was consuming a lot of alcohol all the time," she says. "And when the alcohol got bad, it got physical. I was embarrassed. I just invited all of my family to this wedding and everyone's so happy that I'm married, but I'm miserable."
Ariel eventually filed for divorce, and was then forced to get a restraining order after her ex proceeded to stalk her. Though these frightening moments are behind her, she's working every day to address the residual trauma. "It was a lot of trauma to get where we are, and a lot to finally feel safe," she says. "But I just wanted to do whatever I had to do so my children wouldn't have to heal from a choice that I made."
It's clear that Ariel's adorable children, ranging from ages three to fifteen, are her biggest inspiration. She often posts videos of herself teaching them important life lessons like how to create a budget and maintain good credit. It's these important life skills that many of her followers said they wished they had learned growing up. For Ariel, her greatest goal is to fill up their self-love tank. "The world is going to knock you down enough when you get older," she says. "So if I can push them out there at a hundred percent if the world can only knock them down to 80, I'd be happy with that. But if they only go out there at 80 and the world can get them down to 60 or less than half of who they are, that's a problem for me."
When it comes to her new podcast, Ariel isn't afraid of the judgments that may come, both from loved ones and strangers. "When you tell the truth, there's nothing to hide from," she says. "I am a single mother of five. I do have more than one child's father. We are on a budget. And when I was able to just be honest, I think I wasn't shameful anymore. I didn't have to pretend and I was able to tell my truth out loud."
"This Too Shall Pass" is out now!