In a time when so many of us are experiencing trauma and figuring out how to cope with our new norm, it can be tough to draw the line between being supportive to those we love and being true to ourselves. Our bubble, that imaginary thin line between ourselves and others, has a name- it’s called boundaries.
The truth is, we all have that person in our lives that pushes our limits. That person who if we let them, would bleed us emotionally dry. Maybe you have a friend or coworker who is struggling who leans on you a little too much, or a family member who depends on you a little too often to cope.
The line we draw between ourselves and others can be a fuzzy one at best. But, most of us can recognize the uncomfortable feeling when it’s been crossed. It feels like something isn’t right- like you want to jump out of your skin to escape the situation.
The reality is, we teach people how to treat us. So, while it’s easy to get upset with people who repeatedly rub so closely against our bubble that it feels like it’s going to pop, when we remain silent, we’re partially to blame for the situation.
So, why is it so hard for us to set boundaries with those we love? To start, in order to have healthy boundaries with others we need to first have boundaries with ourselves.
Are you someone who struggles to give yourself grace or draw a line in the sand between yourself and others for your own preservation? If so, you’ll need to take a close introspective look at yourself while also retraining people on how you would like to be treated.
Sometimes, just getting started on learning how to set those healthy boundaries can be the first step on your path to a happier, healthier life. So, for those who are struggling, we’ve come up with a few useful tips to get you started.
Below are a few guilt-free things you can start doing today to protect mental space!
What’s Best for You?
Yes, you read that correctly. We didn’t ask what’s best for your friend, your coworker, your partner or anyone else. The truth is, sometimes we get so caught up in making sure everyone else in our life is taken care of that we forget about ourselves. This can be particularly true for parents, professional helpers, or those caring for a loved one with a disability.
The reality is, sometimes what’s best for others is not in our best interest. Have you ever felt stretched so thin that taking on just one more task or answering one more phone call would cause you to break? If the answer is yes, then you need to be strong and do what’s needed for self-preservation. Put yourself first! It’s not selfish and it doesn’t make you a bad person. Not only will this help you stay in the game, it will also help you continue to interact with others with kindness.
Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Up for Yourself!
You probably don’t realize it, but in thousands of ways every day you communicate with others on how you want to be treated. So, think about the message you’re sending out.
If someone does or says something that you don’t like or that makes you feel uncomfortable, you need to tell them! People aren’t mind readers, and as much as we would like to think that people should just know what we’re thinking, the reality is that most often they don’t.
In social psychology there’s a theory termed the false consensus effect, which basically states that we tend to see our own behaviors and beliefs as appropriate and the norm. However, people’s beliefs and ideas about what behaviors are appropriate can vary widely depending on everything from culture to upbringing.
So, while you might naturally assume that others see behaviors you view as offensive or clear boundary violations in the same light, the reality is that the other person may not see it the same way. This makes it as important as ever to ensure that in teaching others how to treat us, we do it in a way that maintains their dignity and respect. You don’t need to be hurtful, aggressive or rude. You can treat others with kindness while also doing the same for yourself.
It’s Okay to Say “No”
Do you struggle with saying no? If so, there’s millions of Americans who share your plight. Somewhere along the line we started feeling like it wasn’t okay to tell others no- that it’s something we should feel guilty about.
In reality, there is nothing further from the truth! Saying no to others so that you can say yes to yourself is an act of self-love.
Saying yes to yourself allows you to be able to say yes to others when it counts. If we don’t take the time to care for ourselves mentally and physically, we won’t have anything left to give to others when they really need it.
Think about your cell phone or your laptop. You can only use it so much before the battery dies and it needs to be recharged.
You’re really just a more complicated version of your favorite electronic device. At some point, your battery will run low, die, and need to be recharged. Saying no allows you to take the time to plugin and do the things that fill your cup, so to speak.
Send That Call to Voicemail
It’s happened to all of us- that name flashes on your caller ID and you just don’t have the energy for a conversation. The truth is, things are tough for a lot of us right now and we all process that in our own way. So, if you’re someone that needs a little space from others so that you can come to terms with things, that’s perfectly okay.
While we may feel guilty, setting boundaries with others by passing on a phone call is nothing to feel ashamed about. Those that care about you will understand. However, it’s important to communicate with those you love about your need for space. For instance, your loved one may not understand, or could even become a little concerned, if your lack of communication becomes an ongoing pattern.
Are you looking for more content to guide you on your path to a happy, healthy life? Check out the rest of our blog and don’t forget to follow us on social media. We can be found at youthdynamicsmt on Instagram, or People of Youth Dynamics and Youth Dynamics of Montana on Facebook.