The importance of healthy self-bounderies
Being able to say 'no' is a necessary ingredient in a healthy lifestyle.
– David W. Earle
I’ve been reflecting a lot this week about the importance of setting healthy self-boundaries and how crucial it is to having a healthy, balanced and nourishing relationship with myself.
Usually when my life becomes out of balance, doesn’t feel nourishing and I’m not being particularly healthy then it is a clear and sure sign that I have not been setting clear and healthy boundaries for myself and therefore not taken good care of myself. I only know this now because of the many times I have ended up in this place and as I have said before, awareness does seem to be the first step to change! And if you knock yourself in the head enough times it’s likely that you will gain some awareness about it! You hope anyway!
It always amazes me when my 2 year old daughter will turn to me and just say “NO MUMMY” – so clearly, so strong, so grounded. I can see she doesn’t struggle with feeling guilty afterwards, she doesn’t doubt herself, she is saying so clearly that something she doesn’t like is happening and it is not ok with her. She is setting a very clear and healthy boundary for herself. It is amazing.
I have spent the last 20 years of my life in therapy, courses, groups, classes, meditations etc …and the rest…. on this unbelievable journey of gaining more and more self-awareness, learning the practice of how to have clear and strong healthy boundaries for myself. And here is my daughter at the age of 2 and these boundaries come straight from her instincts. As they should. Good for my baby girl! You go Teia!
I do want to give myself credit though, I have come A LONG WAY.. And I really mean that. There was a time when saying no to anyone or anything and taking good loving care of myself just wasn’t in my vocabulary or consciousness, but today it is mostly very different. I’m getting much much better at it and do take miles better care of myself.
But yet I am still working on this.
My thing at this stage in my life is over committing myself – like I should be able to be some kind of super woman, and if I’m not, if I can’t be there for everyone, or do everything, then I feel guilty. Like I’ve let someone down. Like I’ve failed. Usually though the only person I’ve let down is myself. I end up becoming exhausted, feeling very unloved and uncared for, my attitude and perspective on life can become negative and everyone else around me can feel it. And no one else is to blame because I did it to me! It is an old old message and a sign that I still have work to do on myself. I also know that I am not alone with this and this really comforts me.
The core route of this pattern is an old message of low self-worth. A voice telling me that I need to be this amazing person for everyone else for me to feel good about myself. Well the truth is that is not the truth and when I behave in this way I am not being helpful to anyone else, especially myself.
I don’t think society helps, we are constantly being told we should be prettier, shinier, better, work more, earn more, have more stuff. Social media is an absolute bitch for this and drives me mad many many times a week.
The real truth is is that I am enough just as I am. In fact I am beautiful and loveable and enough. And all I need to do is my best and the rest will come and happen in the right time. I do not need to push myself if it doesn’t feel good to me. I am allowed to be loved and cared for. I matter too! These are messages that I am telling myself this week and they are invaluable. I’ll say it again – I matter too! It’s an important one. So simple but so powerful.
So if you are someone, like me, who struggles with these messages that drive us to push ourselves and can lead us to not setting healthy self-boundaries then I hope this weeks reflection has been helpful for you. I want to tell you that you are enough too. Just as you are. In fact you are beautiful and loveable and enough. And you matter too! All you have to do is do your best. You do not need to be perfect. In fact you already are just as you are!
A teacher once told me that the only person or thing I should ever compare myself with is with myself 10years earlier. And I like this because when I do that I can clearly see how far I’ve come and I can tell myself “Hey Nicky, you’re doing great. Keep up the good work. Keep going. The truth will set you free!”.
My experience is the more I work on having a loving more empowered relationship with myself the more I want to treat myself with love. And setting healthy boundaries is an act of self-love. It is also the path to having a more empowered relationship with ourselves and others. It is the path of taking full responsibility for ourselves and our needs. Becoming fully accountable in our lives.
I know that I will make mistakes. This is part of the journey of self-awareness. With each experience I gain awareness and with more awareness I have the opportunity to change.
Life is an ever evolving and changing journey. There is no perfect destination. At least I hope not anyway. I’ve come to love this journey I am on, the ups, downs, highs, lows, all of it, because it is so much richer, deeper and fulfilling this way. Don’t you think so?
Here are a few tools that help me grow and evolve through these moment:
1. No is a complete sentence – Yup. That’s it. And it’s the truth!
2. Practice, practice, practice – practicing setting healthy self-bounderies is like learning how to use a muscle that is not often used. So like going to the gym the more we practice using it the stronger it becomes. Until it becomes second nature to us like riding a bike. Practice on your friends, partner, husband, anyone who you love and trust and is their to support you.
3. Journalling – This is a tool I use for everything. Get it out of your head and onto some paper where you can see it clearly. It really helps. Awareness is the first step to change!
4. Look for the signs – Usually there are tell tail signs that boundaries are not being put down for ourselves. We become exhausted, our health becomes compromised, feelings of anger, resentment, blame start to come up. Maybe feelings of jealousy of others which is really just telling us what we want. Look for these signs and get to know them. Become friends with them so that when they come up the next time you will recognise it and have an opportunity to change the pattern.
5. Be gentle, compassionate and loving – The more you are compassionate, gentle and loving with yourself the more you will want to continue being loving to yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. These things take time to learn and grow and strengthen. Remember – only compare yourself to where you were not to anyone else. It is the only useful way to use comparison.
I hope this has been helpful to you all, as usual it is very helpful for me. Wishing you all a beautiful magical love filled week.