The Modern Woman’s Guide to Setting Healthy Boundaries
There was a time in my life when I felt I was spinning out of control. No matter what I tried I just could not care for myself in the way that I needed to. I knew I should prioritize self-care but I lacked the inner strength to actually do it.
I was the ‘go to’ person, always saying “yes,” over-scheduling and stretching myself ridiculously thin. I rarely said “no,” for fear of losing out or disappointing others. Or maybe I felt I was impervious to the laws of physics. Whatever the reason, I was overly responsible for everyone else in my life with the expectation that somehow others should be more respectful of my time.
I eventually came to realize the problem wasn’t that others should be more aware of my limits. I am the only one who knows what I am capable of giving and doing. Many people never come to this realization or refuse to accept responsibility for themselves. They experience a continuous spiral of blame, guilt, exhaustion and low self-worth.
I didn’t want to be that person. I knew I needed to make some changes.
Fortunately, I was given the chance to press pause. I embarked on a 1-week silent meditation retreat. My experience helped me realize I had been a thirsty plant, neglecting my own wilting self while I watered those around me. In the stillness and silence, I was filled again with nourishment. I felt so alive, so present. After stripping away life’s noise, happiness began to naturally arise. I started to smile just from the very joy of being.
My week of silence put me back at ground zero. Whether it’s by conscious decision or through a traumatic event, we all come to this state several times throughout our lives. It’s an opportunity to start again. When I returned home I began to utilize the self-awareness I gained at the retreat.
As I returned to my regular routine, I approached every day with a reintroduction technique like that of an elimination diet. I became aware of how seemingly harmless situations like answering a call I didn’t want to answer or attending an event I didn’t want to go to, were contributing to my unhappiness. I became mindful of what I included in my schedule rather than operating on autopilot.
When we start at ground zero and take an “elimination diet” approach we can cultivate questions that lead to expanded awareness. Opening up these internal connections will serve as a lighthouse when we inevitably lose our way once again.
This modern world is constantly asking, demanding, distracting, and seducing us away from our precious selves. Most people are engaged WAY beyond their true capacity to manage, which is primarily why we are in an emotional state that is less than ideal. We are the only ones who can press pause on the constant stream of influence and save ourselves.
How to Use Self-Awareness to Set Personal Boundaries
We are quite sensitive beings. Our interactions with others and our environment can have a profound effect on us, making us uncomfortable and discontent in our own skin.
In my many years of working with individuals to reclaim their sense of self, I have identified several physical and emotional symptoms that alert us when we have overstepped our own internal boundaries.
On the right path:
- Feeling light on your feet, flexible
- Sensations of excitement
- A feeling of openness, breathing easily
- Smiling easily
- Feeling drawn or pulled towards something
When you’ve strayed from the path:
- Feeling tightness and physical tension
- A sense of restriction, being closed off
- Uncomfortable sensations, feeling restless
- Heaviness, dragging your feet
- Wishing you could turn and run the other way
There will always be times when saying no isn’t an option. We all have obligations. But taking time for self-reflection and using simple strategies for setting limits make a drastic difference in overall happiness and well-being.
How to Make a Plan for Setting Firm Personal Boundaries
Instead of blaming, shaming, and labeling with the language of being “too anxious, overwhelmed, or emotional,” we can show ourselves compassion and utilize curiosity to understand our own likes and dislikes.
Questions for Self-Reflection
- Why am I so afraid of putting up the necessary boundaries?
- Why am I expecting others to respect my boundaries, when I am the only one who can put them in place?
- What will happen when I say “no” to what doesn’t fit into my life?
- What would a day of doing only things that fill me up look like?
Affirming Statements for Setting Limits
- I am ready to say yes to myself even if it means saying no to others.
- I am ready to act more lovingly and listen to my signals more clearly.
- I am willing to do what feels good to me even if it means saying no to others.
- I am responsible for managing my time and energy.
- I am listening to myself and trust my inner wisdom.
Saying YES to a New Normal
When you first begin saying “no,” to what others ask of you, it will feel foreign and there may be some people who fall away from your regular interactions. You will come to find, though, you need fewer people in your life the more you become present and compassionate towards yourself.
“Those who mind don’t matter. Those who matter don’t mind.”
The life-force abundant energy of the universe is available to all. We are all deserving of its goodness. All we must do is receive — be completely open and receptive to this energy. As we do less and be more we unblock ourselves from this abundant flow. The more you say, “no” to what doesn’t serve you, the more you say, “yes” to developing a new sense of normal.
You’ll say “yes,” to a healthier, stronger, happier version of yourself. Who could say no to that?