The 1,2,3’s of Cultivating Healthy Boundaries

~Becoming the best you, that you deserve~

By Natalie Marroquin

Boundaries.

That single word can feel prickly to some but is one heck of a lifesaver to all. Being a woman specifically, we tend to put ourselves on the back burner more than we would probably like to admit. Whether it’s in our family, our relationships, or our place of work. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’ve spread ourselves too thin until we look in the mirror one day and don’t recognize ourselves anymore. Boundaries are hard! Let’s face it. Being human we are designed for the social aspects of relationships; to care for the young, the old, and the weak, to boost each other and support one another through life, and to love. So how do we know when to step in, and when to step out? We listen to artists like Beyonce, Lizzo and Janelle Monae religiously and are reminded of how powerful, intelligent and beautiful all women are… so why don’t we feel like it? Chances are, you’re dealing with a mild to a severe case of lack of boundaries.

So how do we fix it? We start small. I’m going to walk you through the 3 key steps needed to take the power of your life back into your own hands. Let’s get to work!

  1. Recognize and understand. The best way to recognize if you are in need of boundaries will require some work from your inner self. It’s *drum roll please* reflection time. You’ll want to sit in a safe space, and practice being present with yourself; no distractions. Yes, this means you gotta get that phone out of here too! Think about any times in the past where you stayed silent when you may have been mistreated, or if you have a habit of agreeing to things you don’t actually want to do. Or maybe you notice that you cultivate toxic relationships with others, or have a chronic worry about what your peers think of you. Understand that all of these examples are pointing to a big neon light that reads, “Warning! Faulty boundaries!” This first step of recognizing that you may lack boundaries, is the very first step to taking back the power in your life. Ask yourself what happened when you first noticed someone or something imposing in your life leaving one of your boundaries crossed. How did it make you feel in that moment? How does it make you feel now? What do you wish had happened differently? Is there anything you wish you spoke up about? Understand that faulty boundaries are not your fault, but more of a social crisis that all women are faced with every day.
  2. Establish and write down. Once you’ve had time to reflect on the areas in your life you think may need more boundaries, it’s time to establish. But how do you know exactly what to establish and where? The easiest way to do this is through research. I can’t tell you how many self-help books, articles, and blogs I’ve scanned through trying to get myself more familiar with this concept that was so foreign to me. Reading about how other people like me were able to create and maintain boundaries, leading to healthy and flourishing relationships. Therapy is also an incredibly effective tool to help with this process as well. After you’ve had time to sit, research and reflect, you’re going to write down any patterns you may have noticed within yourself that point to a lack of boundaries. If anything I mentioned in Step 1 resonated with you, write it down! Some examples you could include are, giving yourself permission to say “No” and not needing to explain yourself, setting aside an hour a day just for yourself to do something that makes you happy, speaking up for yourself if you don’t like the way someone may be talking to you or treating you, letting go of some of your independence and asking for help when you need it, letting others face the consequences of their choices instead of trying to save everyone, and communicating your emotions, feelings, and thoughts in an honest and healthy manner.
  3. Communicate clearly and directly. Communication is fundamental to managing and preserving healthy relationships. As you set boundaries, you learn the best way to word your feelings, and how to best approach it with certain individuals. Being familiar with where the end of your limits fall and the others appear is critical in building and supporting your bounds. Know that your limits have nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with keeping your mind, body, and spirit safe and healthy. Using “I” statements to talk to the other person can make them feel less threatened. It reinforces that it’s about you and not about them. “I feel ___ when this happens…”, “ I think I need___ at this time…”, “ I want ___ right now…”, “ I don’t want ___ right now…”, “When this happens I perceive it as ___…” etc. Because let’s face it, boundaries can come off as insulting to those not familiar or that have no boundaries of their own. You can’t ever assume your partners, friends or loved one's feelings, so being able to communicate yours in a clear and concise manner will help them see where you’re at too.
  • Bonus* Honor yourself. This is the most empowering part of the process. Once you’ve successfully started your journey at setting boundaries, it’s easy to go back to the way things were. Trust me! I think all of us have been there. It’s an ongoing process that you’ll have to keep up for the rest of your life, so don’t get too comfortable. In fact, get used to getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, for the most beautiful opportunities for growth reside there. The simple key to protecting your energy and your self is remaining true to your word and showing up for yourself. You must honor your being. You are the ultimate protector of yourself, and to some people that aren’t familiar with boundaries, or have poor boundaries themselves can feel easily triggered when you want to set boundaries with them. Just remember, their reaction is not your problem. You are not setting these boundaries to gain control over other people, you’re doing it for your own well being! You’ll notice the more you set healthy boundaries in your life, the more self-confidence, self-trust, and self-esteem you’ll gain. Not only that but creating boundaries is key to cultivating and maintaining healthy relationships with everyone in your life, the most important one being yourself. Don’t forget to show yourself some love too. This process can be daunting, and overwhelming to those who have never done this before. So integrating a self-love routine can be incredibly beneficial to help ground yourself and really reinforce how special you are as a person. You are worthy of living an incredible life full of healthy connections and respectful interactions. Now it's your time to do it!

For more stories like this, check out the blog on my website: https://www.dynamicduocopy.com/

Mental Health and Wellness Content Marketing Specialist