How often do you catch yourself saying ‘yes’ when you really want to say ‘no’?
In a recent blog, I wrote about how self-care won’t always feel comfortable.
How sometimes, in order to prioritise this, you may need to have uncomfortable conversations.
To take that conversation further, let’s now talk about boundaries because these go hand in hand with self-care. Too often I witness people trying to ‘whisper’ their boundaries to others—they are like hopscotch chalk lines, too easily washed away by the rain. They really need to be asserted, clearly, not erasable—more like the paint of a tennis court baseline.
Having great boundaries is about accepting that you’re not superhuman and respecting what you’re truly capable of saying ‘yes’ to. It also involves knowing what your priorities are and having a desire to live your highest priorities most days. After all, we make time for what we priortise. Many people know what they can and can’t take on, they just don’t know how to communicate this to others.
So, what stops us from making our boundaries clearer to people? Fear. And mostly it’s the fear of what other people will think of us.
We don’t want to let people down, to disappointment them or have them think we are aren’t kind (all of which are another’s perception based on their joys and pains up until this point in time). And that’s a natural human concern—but is it worth letting yourself down in the process? No, it’s not. Besides, it can be all in the way you communicate—it is possible to say no or ask for what you need with kindness.
When we prioritise our own boundaries we have more energy, we’re better able to enjoy life and show up for the things that matter. In fact, when we take better care of ourselves by prioritising our own boundaries we have even more to offer the other people in our lives because of the benefits self-care gives us.
A great way to start cultivating your boundaries is to begin to notice, with great kindness, when you try to implement them. Simply observe how it makes you feel when you do so. If speaking up is new for you, it might feel a little uncomfortable. It may also feel like you’re almost whispering your boundaries or sugar coating them, speaking indirectly rather than with clarity, which can make them difficult for others to hear. But just like a muscle, your voice will become stronger the more you use it and soon you’ll be comfortably expressing your needs. Plus, the way others respond to what you express may actually surprise you in the most wonderful way – you give them the opportunity to display compassion for you, which you’ve likely been offering them for years.
Having great boundaries involves holding true to you, to your soul, to your own inner compass, and sometimes finding strength in places where you currently feel small. It’s also about remembering that how another person reacts is not under your control, but how you take care of yourself is.