Boundary: something that indicates the farthest limit, as of an area; border
A boundary in relationships with people, jobs, pets, or other obligations is the limit of what you will accept from them. It is also the limit of what you will give to them. These limits can be flexible depending on circumstances- your and theirs. To have a healthy boundary is to understand what thoughts, actions, and feelings are your own and what rightly belongs to others. Once this is known, you can decide how much you want in your life and what you want/need to keep out.
How you feel about yourself is an indicator of how permeable your boundary is. If you love yourself, you will feel “full,” have energy and are able to say NO to things/people that drain you. The world will keep spinning even if you do not help someone ever again. People manage to find ways to get what they need, so you do not have to always be the one to provide the help. Unless someone (a child under 16) is directly under your care, your first priority is to yourself. On an airplane the safety instruction for when the air mask drops down is “Put yours on before helping others.” This is the best advice for life in general as well.
Learning to say NO is the most freeing word in the English vocabulary when you are a person who loves to help. Helping others is not wrong in itself but when it takes from you instead of giving you life, it is a problem. For those of us with a “helping” mission in this life, establishing healthy boundaries is paramount. Knowing what we need to be in good shape and giving ourselves this gift will allow us to be the helpful person that we were meant to be.
There is a warning when you embark on changing your life- other people will change as well. The others in your life will not have the motivation to change that you do, so give them grace during your process. They will push back on you as you change your boundary limits. They will test you. Be strong and love yourself more. After a time, those who are around you will get used to your new boundary or they will go from your life. You are no longer the same frequency as they are. They will seek someone who matches what they put out. You do not have to help that along, it will just happen on its own when it is time. You may decide now that you feel better about yourself, you do not need/want the kind of person they are in your life now. Watch for opportunities that come into your life as you change. You will know when it is time to make a move.
Steps to Healthy Boundaries:
- Talk to your Inner Child to determine what helps them feel safe. Listen & follow their lead.
- Decide on a behavior you will no longer tolerate. Let those people know that ________ is no longer acceptable.
- Enforce your boundary. Say NO to requests you used to give in to. Walk/run away from abuse. Call the police, if needed.
- If you have trouble saying the word NO, you may try, “That won’t work for me.” You may also give them another option, “That won’t work for me. Perhaps you can ask ______?” Do not feel obligated to give more if you know their request is not good for YOU.
- When your boundary is tested, let them know what your limit is again. If they continue, distance yourself from them for a period of time. Do not go back to them until you feel strong enough to enforce your boundary.
- Check in with your Inner Child when you are feeling bad. It may be them trying to get your attention. (See Calming the Inner Child Meditation)