Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins
Image by @adutakech
I mean, this one if for all of us, no?
Setting boundaries, learning to say no and not feeling guilty whilst doing so is such a delicate balancing act. It’s also fundamental when choosing to put yourself first and having your wellbeing as your top priority. So, before we dig in, just a kind reminder that choosing yourself, putting yourself first and making sure your cup is filled before you’re able to fill anyone else’s, is not selfish, it’s not mean and it’s definitely not arrogant.
If that concept stills provokes somewhat of an uncomfortable ‘itch’ for you, please revisit our ‘Why is not selfish to choose yourself’ piece as that has to be your starting point. For establishing boundaries is both necessary and imperative when building healthy relationships with yourself and the ones around you. It’s also a form of self-care, it’s you, respecting your needs and communicating those clearly and effectively to the ones around you and consequently to yourself. In doing so, you’re honouring your values and building on your personal worth, sense of self-esteem and leadership independent of anyone else.
The absence of boundaries can sometimes create space for others to define your thoughts, feelings and needs. Because let’s be honest, every time you say yes, are you truly saying it because it’s what you want or need? Or there’s always another layer or layers that influence your decision? And are those layers mostly influenced by you or by whoever is on the other side? Arriving at that point of clarity is a very personal journey that is not so black and white or straight forward. It takes courage, exactly like my favourite, Brené Brown explained:
‘Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.’
Because it does! It takes courage to feel the guilt that most of us do and still honour your choice, to hear judgement or resentment from the other side and know you haven’t done anything wrong and it takes even more courage to keep doing it. So, wherever you are in your journey of setting boundaries, whether you just realised it’s needed, you’ve been actioning it for a while or it’s become second nature to how you live, just stay at it.
My favourites tools and ways of implementing these are:
- Learn to say NO: It’s ok to say no, I mean, it’s necessary to say no. And the biggest thing to note here is, you don’t have to apologise or justify the no. Of course, be mindful and considerate of the other person and make sure you communicate clearly why that’s just not what you need at that moment.
- Stick with it: The tricky thing with saying no and then doing the opposite, is that effectively no boundary has been set in place. You’re not following through with what you truly need and you’re also enabling the other person to overstep or not take your boundaries seriously. So, stick with your gut and your word.
- Resistance and resentment: One of the reasons why so many of us are hesitant to set boundaries in place is the conflict or uncomfortable situations it might cause. Some people will truly understand that you’re prioritising yourself and some will see it as an issue for them. Gaslighting, whether intentionally or not is something that you should expect and be prepared for. And I’ll tell you right now, that the ones that benefit the most from your lack of boundaries will be the ones making you feel bad for setting these in place. Don’t let that get to your head or hurt your feelings, it truly has nothing to do with you, do not take it personally.
- It’s a process: Setting boundaries it’s not a one of task, it’s not something that you can put on your to-do list and get done. It’s an ongoing process, as you and your needs change so will your boundaries.
The thing is, the work never stops, and the work means time, consistency and execution. And yes, that will be a lot sometimes, but it truly is, A LIFESTYLE. So, trust yourself, honour yourself and know that you’re not alone, ever.