We all have experienced situations in our lives that felt very uncomfortable or against what we believe to be true for ourselves.
If these situations happened with people we cared about, we were more likely to let things slide and throw ourselves under the bus for the good of others.
Starting today: NO MORE.
No more sacrificing our own values and standards for idealist perspectives nor the fleeting happiness of others.
This is 2019 now and we are awake to the reality that it is time to take our lives and our joy into our own hands, as well as begin living fearlessly as who we are at the core.
To develop healthy boundaries, we must first understand why we often have flimsy ones (or none at all!)
Our boundaries are standards set for us from early childhood. If you were raised in a home with parents who rarely respected your emotions, thoughts, or personal space, odds are you will not have as strong boundaries set as someone who received the proper care and respect from their parents that allowed room for love to flourish.
When we have a flimsy boundary or repeating negative cycle in our lives, it is of great benefit to question when and where this boundary started. After that, they can begin to be restructured into something conducive to our growth.
Sometimes the best way to determine what we do want is to discover what we don’t want. With that being said, if you are someone who has been through numerous (or any) negative situation in your life you harbor guilt or shame around: forgive yourself. Right now.
These experiences are of great service to you, because now you will have a much easier time developing the healthy boundaries needed to ensure you can begin living as who you are without fear or falling into the same traps again.
So how do we develop boundaries?
1. Discover any flimsy boundaries that need to be reassessed.
Are there any patterns that are constantly recurring in your life? Are you playing out the same type of abusive relationship? Always allowing others to walk over you? Whatever the case may be, ask yourself if there are any loose boundaries you haven’t been upholding. From there, you can begin to dive into where these boundaries (or lack of boundaries) stemmed from. More often than not, they will link back to experiences you have as a child.
This is a good time to get out a notebook and journal and start writing any themes that have been appearing in your life, and where they existed in your early childhood.
Inner child work is generally the most effective way to get to the root of issues in your life and begin on the journey of true, lasting healing.
Get very clear here on everything it is that you do not care to have happening in your life. As mentioned earlier, sometimes the easiest way to discover what it is we do want is to know clearly what it is we don’t want.
2. Recover period: Refill the cup
After you have taken the time to assess your current relationship with boundaries, you can begin to recover from any traumas and areas of lack.
Forgive yourself and those who have hurt you on your journey and thank yourself and others (silently to yourself or in person if you feel called to) for the lessons given and the ability to now grow from the past.
You are not your experiences nor what happens to you. Your character is defined by the way you choose to react to that which you have been and go through.
Make a promise to yourself now to always put yourself first before anything and anyone else. A promise to not sacrifice self-respect and self-love to please those who do not have your best interest in mind. Seriously. Put one hand on your heart and one on your belly. Close your eyes and forgive yourself for your past choices. Then, make a promise to yourself to never put yourself below others anymore. We are all equals here and we are all deserving of love and respect. That forever and always includes you.
Now that you are nice and warmed up, hopefully a little teary, it is time to put this promise into action. To seal it by bringing it to life.
In what ways can you fill in the spaces you have once felt pain with love and joy? How can you carve time out to offer yourself love?
Suggestions include: Dance, making your favorite meal to your favorite songs, enjoying tea or coffee with a loved one on a regular basis, taking a bubble bath (Bonus: add rose quartz and pesticide-free flower petals), a daily meditation and/or yoga practice, self massage, journaling, writing down the things you are grateful for or would like to manifest, cleaning your space of old things and memories that are not serving you anymore.
3. What are your values?
I see boundaries and values as closely linked siblings. When we have a strong set of values, we are less likely to do things that do not line up with these values.
You can have as many values as you desire, but I do recommend narrowing down to a list of 10, then choosing a top 3. This will be easier for you to remember, thus easier to integrate.
Every month you could even go back over the list and change up your top 3 once the original ones become a mindless habit for you.
My favorite way to do this is in a stream-of-consciousness style with pen and paper. Simply writing down the first words that pop into my mind when I meditate on “Values.” After that, I can go back through the jumble of words and pull out the ones that resonate most with me or are most important at that time in my life, and put them into a listed format.
Note: You can also do this with different “categories” of your life. For example, you could do a list of values centered around relationships, careers, or even your own character and how you wish to grow. Have fun and don’t overthink it. Often we already know what it is we value deep down, and this is just a practice to give them names and build a relationship with them.
4. Create new boundaries that are a reflection of the values you hold for yourself.
Once you have your list of values you can begin to develop boundaries around them.
Example: I highly value a plant-based vegan lifestyle. Therefore, I draw a line (boundary) at going out to eat at places I know will not offer options that allow me to have a meal. Therefore, out of love for myself AND the group, I will find places that accommodate all of our dietary needs so everyone can be happy.
Now is a good time to mention that setting boundaries in no way restricts us from living our lives, nor does it begin to neglect the love we share with others. Rather, it deepens our connections to others as well as ourselves by making us more aware of every bodies needs and ways they may be deserving of more attention.
That being said, you also cannot please everyone. Not everyone will be happy once you begin drawing these lines, however, if you encounter people who do not respect you or your boundaries, then odds are they do not have your highest good in mind. That, or they are still in need of doing their own inner child work and are hurting inside, and as such may benefit by being in the presence of someone who remains aligned with their own values. This gives other people confidence and permission to begin (at least considering) doing the same.
5. Surround yourself with people who respect and support your boundaries. Let go of the rest.
One of the easiest ways to relapse into lack of self respect is to keep those who do not know how to respect your boundaries in your inner circle.
I understand if you love someone dearly and do not wish to cut them completely out of your life. Family is often a big portion of these connections. That being said, it does not mean you have to keep these people close, nor share everything about your personal life with them.
You get to choose the people you surround yourself with. We also are reflections of the people with whom we spend our time. If you wish to be a successful CEO, hang out with other CEOs. If you want to become a well-known artist, hang out with others artists. If you wish to respect yourself and be an embodiment of self love, hang out with others who love and respect themselves and are willing to support you on your journey.
6. Remain strong in these new boundaries.
We will undoubtedly encounter people in our lives who do not know how to respect others. This is a fact of life. Our real task is in staying true to our boundaries in these moments, as well as understanding these are the people who are likely still hurting.
Our little egos very quickly get riled up when someone offends their pride, but by reminding ourselves of our value, boundaries, and personal journeys, we will eventually come to a place of non-reaction to negative external stimuli and be reminded of the strength we have.
By respecting ourselves and remaining strong in our convictions, we are able to respect others no matter where they are in their lives. We know our limits and are able to do what we can, no more and no less.
Having boundaries does not mean shunning our the world and anything that doesn’t fully align with our values. Rather, it allows us to remain aligned with these values and boundaries within ourselves, so that when we are confronted we are able to handle it and remove ourselves from these situations if need be.
The world will never stop happening. Everyone has their own lives, experiences, pains, and traumas.
It is ultimately up to us to heal our own hurts and find the lessons that help us to grow in each and every one of these experiences.
In doing so, we grow strong and can live freely as who we are on the inside without fear of getting drained or burned. Also, we give others permission and strength to do the same.
7. Team up with a coach.
If you are someone who will go through all (or some) of these steps only to quickly falter off, I would recommend teaming up with a coach. A coach will only ever have your highest evolution in mind and will put in the time and effort to help you stay on track to aligning fully with the lifestyle and values you wish to be living by.
I offer an online one-on-one coaching program that helps you to do just that. If you are feeling called to begin aligning with self love but need a little help along the way, click here to learn more about the program and what it has to offer.