Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.
Boundaries help define what you are comfortable with and how you expect people to treat you. Without them, how will people know how to respect you? It indeed is everyone's obligation to put themselves first just as your own thrive is yours.
Before you set boundaries, people assume free play on your space and emotions.
They will tell you how to feel, what to think and how to act. They get to have a claim over your life. I once had a friend who used sarcasm on me frequently. I found it insulting the things they would say. It always felt like they were throwing jabs at my personality and intelligence. Eventually, my courage bloomed and I spoke up about it. Their reply to my discomfort was telling of how much leeway I had given them. They were not going to baby-sit my sensitivity and compromise their humour. I might as well get used to it.
Right there, they drew their boundary line and I was tasked with choosing whether I wanted to stay in the lines.
Resetting one’s boundaries is an uncomfortable task. It comes with a cost but also a reward. One may lose a friend but gain trust in themselves to make the right choices despite the consequence. Once I reset my boundaries, I started to find myself trusting me more. From making healthier lifestyle choices to who I let in on my privacy.
I tackled my discomfort once I noticed how comfortable people were disrespecting me. It is astonishing how much you find once you set your mind to look out for a particular thing. All my relationships, even with self, were riddled with disrespect. I kept compromising and shifting boundary lines to accommodate people. The more I remapped my boundaries, the more of my identity and control over self got distorted.
Defining one's boundaries is personal as each individual has different needs. These are some of the things that pushed me to set my own;
I was paranoid about everyone in my life. I was unsure who to trust.
I was constantly in a space of self doubt. I was afraid to make decisions so I would delegate them. Even those as minimal as ordering a meal in a restaurant. I would ask one of the waiting staff what their favourite meal was and have that instead.
My relationships always had stains of drama. I needed stability and growth. I was either volatile from resentment or I was overstepping boundaries of others.
I needed to function better. I was stuck in a loop of unproductivity. I needed to grow into my future. My body’s mobility and flexibility had withered away. I was always eating when I was not supposed to and sometimes not eating at all. I was unable to stay on task and see it through to the end. My sleeping patterns were scattered. I had no schedule. It is well known that ambiguity nurtures anxiety.
One of the biggest joys of creating these guardrails is the trust in myself. I trust my ability to make decisions wisely and look after myself. Knowing that I am putting myself first gives all aspects of me hope that I am in control of my existence as an asset. I have the vision for my life, I know the steps I need to take. I trust myself to take to task this knowledge.
My relationships are much more grounded and vibrant in bloom-both with myself and others. I stopped seeking to make people compromise on their boundaries. This reduced the drama and tantrums I would carry into other people’s lives. I also stopped negotiating with my negative thoughts. I know to catch them before they disperse and gain root. Relationships bloom where trust, maturity and understanding are availed.
My body is healthier, and so is my mind. I have a strict set of rules with myself. I know with myself, I have to run a tight ship. This way, when I indeed need nurture, I will not be questioning if I am being lazy or calling myself names. I am more aware of my cycles and my resources now. This makes it easier to manage what I have in a moment. I know when my body can be pushed to do more. I also know when I am unwell and need to move at a slower pace and make my routine calmer. I can pause and listen to myself and take the time away from people to heal and replenish my energy. I am able to protect my momentum and pace in functioning.
Finally, I was able to take back my power. I was a people pleaser at my own expense and that is a high cost at the end of the day. One I am no longer willing to pay the price for.
Boundaries may seem mean, but honey, you have to create parameters to protect your space and self. Think of your life as an empire of one. You are permitted to be a dictator over your needs.
Michelle Ivy Alwedo
Michelle is a storyteller. She uses narratives and introspection to explore different possibilities and perspectives. This helps her make better sense of herself and the world. She is also passionate about individuals achieving a sustainable, optimal level of functioning. Through her stories, she hopes to show how honest assessment and dialogue with self can help one restore balance.