I’ve always been the one to prioritize my needs (some may say I’m selfish or a bitch) but it just adds to my research, so thank you. The power a simple “no” has is incredible. While I understand how a rude tone of voice, a nasty word, or a manipulative statement can come across as selfish – voicing your boundaries and what you’re comfy with is not. It’s called showing up for yourself, taking care of your needs, and protecting your valuable energy.
Getting a text from someone that says , “Hey I don’t f*king like you at all let’s stop hanging” is a lot different than a text that sets healthy boundaries such as – “Hey, I am emotionally not ready to be serious with anyone. I hope you understand and wish you the best.” Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but that second reply doesn’t sound bitchy or inconsiderate to me. In fact, it sounds like the person is taking responsibility for their feelings and being up-front. What a concept!
I would rather have someone tell me they are not emotionally stable v.s. 12 months down the road, I’m imagining our kids together, and I get a good old “I can’t do this anymore” text and I’m blocked. It happens.
I am the most sensitive person in the world. Seriously, I am like a soft mushy sponge. But even I wouldn’t get mad at a thoughtful, open, and honest message from someone. There is a difference between being straight up rude vs communicating a need. Being a people pleaser is in our nature, but trust me, it can hurt you over time. Learning how to say no and standing your ground in your values, needs, and wants is life changing. Of course, saying yes is easier, more comfortable, and socially acceptable. Saying no is at times – difficult, can cause you to feel guilty, fearful, or uncomfortable. These are all normal feelings that occur when saying no, AKA setting boundaries.
It’s important to realize that setting boundaries are there to protect your well-being. Setting them can disappoint others, temporarily upset them, or cause them to make you feel like a toxic grudge holding human. Setting boundaries means you have the courage to put your needs first and love yourself. And if the person truly doesn’t understand where you are coming from, you may want to re-evaluate your relationship.
Tip #1 Do You Even Have a Cat?
Boundaries come in all different shapes and forms. A boundary can be asking for alone time, asking for personal space, or simply leaving a party early because you want to. A common mistake I see in boundaries is coming up with excuses. Saying “Oh I forgot I have a project due, and a book to read, and a cat to feed, and blah blah blah” is not setting a boundary – it’s called being dishonest. Do not make excuses for emotional, physical, or mental needs! Be honest and kind, simply decline the dinner offer and say you don’t feel well enough to go.
Tip #2 Shut Up
Don’t over explain! We tend to think that more is better and in some cases this is true. But when it comes to expressing a need, less is okay. If you truly want to give a lot of detail and explain the deep depths of your mental state to someone go ahead, but a simple “Hey I’m not mentally feeling okay I will reply to this later” is okay. Normalize not replying to someone until you are ready. Waiting until you are ready to be there for someone is so important because we can be our best support systems after we show up for ourselves. If you have a hard time showing up for yourself, I recommend starting the day with a mindful practice – such as yoga, meditation, reading, or journaling.
Tip #3 Self- Care is Not Glamorous
If I see one more face mask with a caption “self care” I might actually go insane. Do face masks help you grow or do they just feel good ? Or do they just look like you are taking care of yourself ? I’m sorry, (I love a good face mask don’t come at me) but self-care is not just bubble baths, face masks, and pedicures. While these are all great to do, and treating yourself is a must, self-care is not always nice. Self-care can look like – making difficult decisions, taking responsibility for your actions, spending time in your discomfort and pain, and confronting what you’re avoiding. So next time you need a night off for “self-care” don’t be afraid to call it an emotional break or mental overload.
Tip #4 Boundaries are Not Just for Boos
You can also set boundaries with friends or anyone else in your life! Hearing a boundary from a friend, colleague, or family member can be just as difficult and uncomfortable. But it is necessary and okay to do. A boss may email you, “No I cannot meet Monday. What about Tuesday?” This does not mean they are not interested in you for the job, it just means they are human and have a life. Don’t get discouraged!
Boundaries set with friends can sound like “I am struggling with my own mental health right now, I can’t fully be there for you at the moment but I care for you” or “I only have 10 minutes to grab a coffee” or “I can’t talk right now, I’m headed to work.” These are all honest, open, and healthy statements to say. Your friends should understand you have needs too and allow you to communicate them.
I know this is all a lot, and this can sound intimidating and difficult to achieve. But I promise once you start becoming aware of boundaries and even just including this type of language in your life, you will see a difference. Setting boundaries allows us to show up for ourselves and become more compassionate, understanding, and patient partners.
If someone invalidates your boundary, I recommend removing them from your close circle. If they are new to boundary talk, talk to them and try to educate them on healthy boundary conversations. We all have needs, wants, limits, and values. It is okay to express them.
If you are unfamiliar with what is a boundary for you, I recommend writing in a journal or even your phone notes. Write down what bothers you, what you value, what you emotionally need, etc. Boundaries do not mean you don’t care for the other person – they mean you love them and yourself at the same time.