Folks are scared of boundaries.
We’re scared to have them, and we’re offended or off-put when they are exercised on us.
But the truth?
Healthy Boundaries make us significantly happier and make all of our relationships better.
Creating and enforcing boundaries have single-handedly made the largest impact on my wellness and well-being. Here is how I created, communicated and enforced healthy boundaries that bloomed the happiest version of my life to date.
1. Define what’s important to you
When I first started to consider healthy boundaries, I made a list of things I wanted in my life: at least 6 hours of sleep, regular exercise, home cooked meals, time with my brand new pup, one “social” night a week.
This list was created in my tears. I know that sounds weird, but let me explain.
From time to time, my job would get really overwhelming. I would feel like I was living just to get up and work, and after a while, I would call my mom and/or dad and just cry.
I’d cry about all of the opportunities I was missing out on because I was working. I was missing out on friends. I was missing out on dating. And most importantly, I was missing out on my health.
Let me give you a hint: anything causing you emotional discomfort and/or resentment is a boundary violation screaming to be remedied. Start your list with ways to minimize or eliminate those negative feelings.
2. Be Proudly Selfish
Selfishness has gotten a bad wrap.
I’m not sure when selfish became a bad word, but the Webster definition of selfish is, and I quote, “Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.”
Sure, there are certain times when selfishness is inappropriate, for sure. I get that. Hashtag global pandemic.
But when it comes to your (i) well-being, (ii) self-care, (iii) goals, (iv) values and (v) priorities, you SHOULD be SO freaking selfish, sis!!
If “selfish” makes you uncomfortable, rebrand that feeling as “priorities” and call it a day. In order to assert your healthy boundaries, they’ve gotta be a priority for you.
Girl, I could go on for hours on this topic, but my new favorite book of all time, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, does a far better job of it. 10/10 would recommend.
3. Know your value
You’re a badass. Do you know that? Do you believe that?
If you did, you wouldn’t allow that senior associate to use the tone he did in that meeting. And you wouldn’t allow the partner to email you a request at 1AM with the expectation that you complete it by “morning.”
Part of being selfish is a twinge of entitlement. In order to prioritize your well-being, you have to believe you are worthy of that ranking.
In the early days of my boundary setting, I had a very challenging time enforcing my list of priorities. Why?
Because I had little to no self-respect or concept of my self worth.
Once I truly believed that I was smart, kind, beautiful, amazing and a boss, the natural next progression of thought was to preserve that awesomeness at all costs! And it was a lot easier to shut down bad behavior from colleagues, suitors and friends when they did anything to diminish my newfound reality that, “I’m the prize.”
4. Communicate honestly
“Is it honest?”
That’s my litmus test. Period. If the words about to exit my mouth are honest, then they can’t be mean.
And I’m gonna say it because I think it needs to be said: not to get all law school on you, but “mean” requires malice intent. And there is no malice in the truth.
In reality, mean exists solely based on how the listener receives what you’ve said. You have zero control on how someone reacts to the TRUTH.
And you can’t take on that burden. It’s not yours to carry.
Therefore, it’s in your best interest to be honest with your boundaries. And stop fearing how anyone else will receive them.
It helps to remind myself, “When someone reacts poorly to the exercise of my boundaries, it generally means they have no respect for their own boundaries.” And then I proverbially drop the mic.
5. Enforce and correct violations
The hardest part of this whole “healthy boundary” thing for me is enforcing and correcting boundary violations.
I want to say especially at work. But also especially with my family. And especially with my friends. And especially with whatever guy I’m dating.
Here’s what I’ve learned: You’ve just gotta start.
Here’s the game plan: You enforce just one little boundary (like leaving the office/shutting work down at X:XXPM). And you do it every day unless it’s an absolute emergency otherwise.
But then once you’ve started, it gets just the slightest bit easier. And then it’s almost easy. And then it’s the expectation and you stop having to even talk about it. And then that confidence spills over into a new boundary.
And then you become a boundary boss. Jus like dat.
You can do this. I believe in you. I believe in us. Let’s get after it.