Boundaries are crucial to your mental health & well-being. You need them in order to protect your energy and to stop people from taking advantage
One of the most important things I’ve learnt in the past year is that boundaries are crucial and so friggin’ necessary to live a healthy and happy life.
Throughout my 20s, I was a people-pleaser.
I was forever saying “yes” to things I didn’t want to do for fear of upsetting the other person.
I would listen to others bitch about other people for hours without saying anything.
And I would never stick up for myself when I felt like my character or personality was being attacked.
Because I had this need to be liked by everyone, I began to put myself in situations that I didn’t want to be in. I would get caught up in other people’s drama and was always the shoulder to cry on.
Don’t get me wrong, I love helping people. It just got to the point where I was surrounded by so much toxicity and negativity that it began to seriously damage my mental health.
Being a people-pleaser is emotionally and physically draining. I unfortunately also lost all sense of who I was as a person.
I didn’t know whether I actually enjoyed doing certain things or if I was just doing them in order to be liked by the other person.
And that was pretty scary.
It was time to put my mental health and well-being first
I finally began living on my own terms when I packed my bags, left London and the toxicity that surrounded me and moved half-way across the world to travel through South East Asia for 5 months.
It was during this time that I spent, like truly, emotionally, mentally and physically spent time with myself.
I began to realise what I enjoyed doing, what I didn’t enjoy doing. What I wanted to eat and what I didn’t want to eat. Who I wanted to spend time with and who I didn’t want to spend time with.
And that’s the beauty of solo-travelling. I could do exactly what I wanted and when I wanted with no one to answer to and no one to question my choices.
It felt so incredibly freeing.
And that is when I realised that I need to live my life the way I want to live it.
I will never be truly happy and fulfilled if I’m constantly making decisions based on other people’s opinions and not doing what is best for me.
Yes this sounds selfish. In fact it is selfish. But I know now that my mental & physical health is the most important thing (to me) and I need to protect that at all costs.
I need to have clear boundaries in order to live a happier & healthier life.
What are boundaries and how can they help?
Boundaries are the limits and rules you put in place to separate your personal space, emotions and responsibilities from others.
They are the foundation of your identity as they help to define your “likes and dislikes and setting the distances one allows others to approach.”
They also stop others from taking advantage of you.
And like I said before, boundaries can be seen as being selfish to others but the truth is, you need boundaries to help protect your energy and well-being.
They are essential to your mental health.
I feel like boundaries have never been more important than they are right now.
Being stuck in lockdown for the past year has fucking sucked and it has been crucial that I set boundaries and fully embraced them.
I honestly don’t think I would have got through this past year without them!
This is a list of some of my current boundaries.
And please note that this list is constantly growing and evolving as I become more confident and less guilty about setting boundaries.
- Saying “NO” when I want to
- Avoiding or limiting my time with negative people
- Cutting out all toxic people from my life
- Not feeling guilty for taking “me-days”
- Limiting my time on social media by taking regular breaks and not apologising if I haven’t “shown up” for a few days
- Unfollowing, muting or blocking anyone on social media that triggers me or does not directly align with my energy
- No longer saying sorry for things that aren’t my fault
- Muting all my notifications (except my mum and partner) and only checking and replying to messages when I am ready
- Not picking up phone calls if I don’t feel like talking
- Removing myself from a situation if I feel uncomfortable
- No longer engaging in political conversations with family members or where I feel like my personal opinions will be attacked
I am also no longer as open as I used to be. I feel like when I was younger I used to tell everyone my business but now I keep things close to my chest and I only share certain details with people I can truly trust
How to set clear boundaries
Personal boundaries can be emotional or physical, and are not limited to relationships, social media or home life but can be implemented in your work life as well.
By setting boundaries you are showing your loved ones, family members, friends, work colleagues, clients, etc. what is acceptable and what is not.
So here is a step by step process on how to set your boundaries:
1. Highlight the areas of your life where boundaries are most needed
Maybe you have a very needy, negative friend who demands a lot of attention.
You might be scared of losing a client so you take on more work than you can manage.
Or maybe you spend too much time on social media consuming the wrong content and it’s making you feel unworthy, angry or even overwhelmed.
Highlight the issues you are facing and how they are making you feel so you can understand more of where your boundaries need to be placed.
2. Know your limits
Once you know what areas to work on, you then need to write down the things that trigger you, make you upset, angry, annoyed or just completely drain you.
Once you have this list, you can confidently make a list of boundaries to protect you from these deterrents.
3. Learn the power of saying “no”
When I was a kid I used to hate hearing the word “no” – like hate it! I would throw a tantrum and scream the house down until I got what I wanted (sorry mum!)
Maybe I secretly developed such a hatred for the word and that is the reason why I spent the majority of my 20s saying “yes” to everyone.
But now that I’m in my 30s, “no” is my favourite word. It’s conclusive. It’s powerful. And “no” really means “no”.
The meaning of “no” may have negative connotations in the grammar way of things but it’s definitely the most positive thing you can say to protect your space.
“It’s only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important”steve jobs
4. Honour other people’s boundaries
Treat people the way you want to be treated. Set the example and don’t disrespect someone else’s boundaries.
This will make it easier for the other person to accept your boundaries and will most likely treat you the way you have treated them.
Basic example – sometimes It takes me 2-7 days (or longer) to reply to my friends on Whatsapp. I never apologise for it and they never say anything. Sometimes they will take 2-7 days (or longer) to reply to me. I of course would never say anything and I always tell them to never apologise.
5. Let go of the guilt
In order for your boundaries to stick you NEED to make yourself the priority. It won’t work any other way.
As I said before, learning to let go of the guilt is a “practice makes perfect” concept as you need to train your brain to know that boundaries are necessary.
So start small. Set a couple of small boundaries here or there. It might be as easy as not replying to your messages straight away or taking an hour off social media each day.
Whatever it is, embrace your boundary, get used to it and let go of the guilt.
You’ll be setting a lot more boundaries in no time!
Setting boundaries is not meant to be easy. It’s a learning and growing practice. It can be difficult and it may upset others but you need to remember that you are your main priority.
And you can’t begin to lead a happy and healthy life unless you have set clear boundaries.
Don’t feel guilty for saying “no”, don’t feel guilty for having to turn work or clients down, don’t feel guilty for not showing up on social media and don’t feel guilty for taking the time to rest.
You need clear boundaries to define your identity and protect your well-being, otherwise you are constantly living your life on other people’s terms.
And remember, there are ways of being able to still help someone while also staying true to yourself and to your boundaries.
Until next week,
♡ Thalia xx