The Wholehearted & Beautifully FUNCTIONAL Blog

— thoughts of a recovering design imposter —

Balancing Boundaries

Sitting down to write today has been difficult. All I want to do is get stuff unpacked and organized but that, for the whole house, will take time I don't have. Also, I am exhausted. Getting used to a new space is always weird and I keep waking up at odd times...there are all these new sounds I need to acclimate to. Sometimes, I hate being overly sensitive to noise.

Amidst all of this, I want to be consistent with this writing thing that I am (mostly) excited and determined to do. It's basically one of the only things aside from the necessities like eating, working, and sleeping that I'm getting done. All my other things like working out, meditation, and learning German have all gone out the window for about the last week...

Boundaries can be overwhelming to consider. We are taught basic ones as we grow up and learn even more as we begin to make decisions on our own. Some we make out of pure need, never actually understanding the barrier until much later in life. But do we actually take the time to really think about all of our boundaries? Do we realize the variety of impact that they have on us?

I know that until I started reading Brene Brown (among other mental health books) I hadn't considered how many of my boundaries were being set by others. I wanted to please as many people as I could with any group decision. I dealt with serious FOMO (fear of missing out) every time I had to miss some event and FOMO drove me to attend many social functions that I may have been better off staying home from. I had no idea what I wanted, but I sure wanted to know what others wanted so I could want that. Everyone else needed to be happy, even if it was at my expense (honestly, especially at my own expense, that's when things were best). All of this may be a bit over exaggerated, maybe, but I feel it illustrates my issue of letting others set my boundaries.

This realization of having little to no boundaries of my own really hit home about the time I was starting to notice my apathy towards a lot of things I usually loved to do. I was on edge and really, really nasty to myself and others at the drop of a hat. I really hate admitting this but I was not a great person to be around rather often during this time. And I think it had a lot to do with setting boundaries. Well, not setting them properly to begin with, really.

It is painstakingly slow work and often really hard to focus on. Setting boundaries is a very interesting problem, they are not concrete and, often, they go unnoticed until they become a problem. Either you have one that shouldn't be there or you don't have one that should. Often we don't take the time to implement any until we need them. The problem with reacting rather than preparing or planning is that you don't give yourself time to fully analyze or consider the consequences.

It really sucked at first, saying no to things, actually putting weight behind my opinions, choosing myself and my happiness over others. Once I started putting the work in and caring for myself I was able to have more capacity for others. Setting my boundaries has helped me to be a better and healthier human being.

Working on yourself and putting yourself first at times isn't necessarily selfish. We should all be taking care of ourselves so that we can have further capacity to help others. But we also need to know our limits, know when to say "no" and be kind to ourselves when we need to say "no". If you keep pushing past your limits you'll burn out. It takes a lot of time to recover from burn out, I learned the hard way.

This week I am proud to say that I've exercised my boundaries in many positive ways. Just tonight we had a standing game night with friends, but because of the move we declined to go. Best part is that I don't feel that nagging in the pit of my stomach that I am missing out. Sure, I wanted to see friends, but I wasn't ruled by it.

Also, as I said earlier, a lot of my usual things have gone out the window. This generally would mean a self berating and I'd feel terrible for days, insisting on doing the things even when I know it's not feasible, forcing them on myself in an unhealthy, obsessive way. Thankfully, I am allowing myself the grace and space to be a bit lazy while we get our life back to a new normal.

But even working towards the balancing of boundaries I have still managed to push too far. It's still so easy to fall back into old habits. But don't get discouraged, it's all part of the process. You've got to look on the bright side. For me, in my weak, over-tired moments this week it was this: I realized sooner that I was lashing out because my inner critic was in full force, I was able to articulate what was happening in my head far better, I was able to let the pain, guilt and shame go much faster and realize that we all make mistakes, I was able to forgive myself. It wasn't perfect but it was better.

Boundaries are important. Setting them is being kind to yourself and others. And don't get too upset if you feel like you've not balanced yours too well on a given day. Life is about balance in all things, and balance takes practice.

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