When someone says the word “boundaries,” what comes to mind?
When I was younger, it would cause an initial stubborn “well duh I have boundaries.” But deep down in my being I knew that they were like the straw house. As soon as the big bad wolf showed up, down they went.
I was too scared to stand up for myself. Not scared in the way you’re probably thinking, though. There were times I was scared for my safety, yes. But most of the time I was afraid of someone walking away. The attention I was receiving was more important than upholding boundaries because I didn’t want to ‘lose’ the person. Whether it was friendships, romantic relationships, this is how it went.
Anyone else relate to this?
If you do, I want you to know that I see you. I see you, and I hear you. What you experienced is valid and NOT your fault. So don’t misconstrue what I’m saying.
What I am saying is that you do not have to allow your boundaries to be crossed. But in order to get there, you have to set solid boundaries and make the decision that you will not break them. This is easier said than done, I know. But this is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
But how do you do that to begin with?
How do you manage to create boundaries and actually stick to them?
I’m going to be really honest and share some tough love with you: you have to choose to. It’s 100% a decision that you have to make and stick to. That’s something that no one else can do but you.
But you also have to understand that this is like a muscle you haven’t worked in a long time. You have to flex this muscle and work it out if you expect it to get stronger. So while yes, it’s a decision that you have to make. The more you stick to those decisions, it’s like going to the gym for your boundary muscles.
I want to make sure I am very clear about something.
You are NEVER obligated EVER to do ANYTHING that you don’t want to do.
If you are not 110% sure of the situation, if you’re not 110% sure that you want to go through with it, then the answer is no. The only obligation you have is to yourself.
So whether your boundaries are big or small as you’re flexing your muscles, that doesn’t matter. You are never EVER obligated to do ANYTHING you don’t want to fully do.
This applies to any and all boundaries, not just when it comes to physical boundaries.
Also as a disclaimer: setting boundaries is NOT an excuse to treat someone badly or be disrespectful to anyone. I don’t want anyone going and being rude to their boss because Karleigh said it was OK. So I just wanted to clear the air there as well.
So – boundaries. How does this whole concept work?
Honestly, it starts with respect for yourself. When you don’t respect yourself, you won’t respect your boundaries. Because who are you to demand respect? Who are you to expect that people will uphold your boundaries? Who are you to have limitations?
If you don’t respect yourself, you won’t uphold your boundaries. Period.
I know that’s a tough pill to swallow, but hear me out.
Like I said at the beginning, I’ve been there. This is in no way a judgement call or telling you you don’t have willpower or whatever. I want this to hit home because I want you to understand how important it is to respect yourself and your choices.
There is a 99% chance that you know what it’s like when someone doesn’t care about your boundaries.
It feels violating, uncomfortable, and you feel completely disrespected.
It’s not a good place to be. Trust me, I know.
But that’s what happens when we don’t respect ourselves. That’s why we don’t like the feeling we have waking up in a bed we didn’t want to be in. That’s why we feel remarkably uncomfortable going somewhere you didn’t want to go. It’s the feeling of utter disrespect.
But we don’t pay attention to that feeling as uncomfortable enough to change because we’ve told our brain that this is normal.
This has become the comfortable discomfort because our brain thinks that this is normal, that this is just what happens. That it’s just what everyone does so we just have to put up with it.
I’ve gotta stop for a second here, though: just to be clear, that’s complete BS. It is NOT normal. It is NOT ok. It’s not “what everyone does.” It’s not what we HAVE to put up with. That is part of why this generation of people is so sick, is so toxic. We have gotten into this cycle of “oh it’s what everybody does” when it’s not really what everybody does but we’ve all told ourselves that it is what everybody does so we end up with a toxic generation of people who only look out for their own interests while simultaneously not caring about themselves at all.
This is part of the narrative that I’m so passionate about changing. I’ll step off of my soapbox for a second here, but I wanted to make sure that that was said.
I say this quite a bit but I want to acknowledge that this work isn’t easy. Not only is it not easy, it is damn HARD. If you struggle with setting boundaries, or if you’re used to constantly having your boundaries violated, this is going to be especially hard for you.
I don’t say this to discourage you, but to bring awareness.
A lot of the time, when we feel resistance or we realize how hard it is to uphold our boundaries, we get down on ourselves. We beat ourselves up because it shouldn’t be this hard. We get mad because we’re struggling, and then we make the decision that we don’t deserve boundaries anyway because we’re worthless and why bother. Then the boundaries get violated and it becomes a vicious cycle.
When you know ahead of time that this is going to be hard, you can prepare for it. You can say, “Karleigh said this was going to be hard. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m strong enough to keep my boundaries. I’m capable of keeping my boundaries. I deserve to have boundaries.”
Maybe you won’t say it like that, but I do think that those affirmations would be good ones to have on hand for the inevitable moment when your boundaries will be tested.
That’s where I’m going to start: get prepared.
The first step to setting boundaries is to be prepared for when they’re threatened. I understand that this feels a little backwards. Shouldn’t this be the last thing we do?
But actually, no. We have to have boundaries in every single area of our lives, not just physical. We have to have boundaries that we keep with ourselves, too.
So often we violate our own boundaries, and allow others to violate our boundaries, because we feel weak. We feel like we’re either unable to hold boundaries or unworthy of holding boundaries.
The reality of it is that our boundaries WILL be tested. Either by ourselves or by others. This is an inevitable fact.
Whether its at work, in a relationship, at the bar, at church, at the gym, at home, in your own mind.
Your boundaries will be tested. There’s no real way to avoid it.
So, how do you get prepared?
You accept that your boundaries will, in fact, be tested.
Second, come up with some affirmations you can use to remind yourself who you are and why you’ve set these boundaries to begin with. Whether you’re going to start getting solid on your boundaries today or next week, start saying these affirmations right this second.
Start preparing your brain to accept boundaries and to understand that your boundaries are worth keeping because YOU are worth it.
Some affirmation examples:
I’m strong enough to keep my boundaries.
I’m capable of keeping my boundaries.
I deserve to have boundaries.
I am worthy of respect.
I am deserving of respect.
I respect myself so I keep my boundaries.
Keeping your boundaries ties in directly with your respect for yourself, so it is important to remind your brain that you’re worth respecting. That you are WORTHY of respect.
Now that you’re prepared for boundary violation, we can start with flexing our boundary muscles.
Start with boundaries you need to keep for yourself.
Now I have found that these can be some of the hardest boundaries to keep. We have no one to keep us accountable to ourselves, so we don’t trust ourselves.
Ok, boo. I’m realizing that there’s going to need to be a part 2 of this podcast so we’re not all here for an hour. So I’m going to focus on this for a second. Or a lot of seconds.
Trust is a skill. Trusting yourself is the most important skill that you can learn. You have to learn how to trust yourself or you’ll never be able to keep any boundaries. Why? Because you don’t trust yourself to keep them anyway so why try?
So how do you learn to trust yourself?
You set goals, you set boundaries, you set deadlines. And then you keep them.
It seems like a confusing cycle – you need to trust yourself to keep boundaries, but in order to learn to trust yourself you have to set boundaries. Seems a little counterintuitive, right? A bit of a Catch-22?
I promise it’s not as complicated as it seems. But this is incredibly important. You need to learn that you can follow through with what you say you’re going to do. This work is not going to be easy, but if you commit to it I promise that you’re going to be able to get through this.
The first thing I want you to do is look around and find one or two things that you’ve been putting off. Things that you’ve said you’d start on this date or that date that you just haven’t committed to.
Pick just one or two things. That’s it.
You’re going to want to do a lot. That’s a recipe for overwhelm and quitting, and feeling like a failure. We don’t allow that anymore. No more feeling like a failure. Because we’re going to learn to trust ourselves. We’re going to learn how to do this the right way.
We’re not going after a quick fix, we’re going after permanent, solid, lifelong change.
So you’re only going to pick one or two things. Whether it’s a new workout regime, starting a project, or finally deleting someone’s number. It doesn’t matter what it is. But set a deadline, delete the number, just start, keep track. And force yourself to stick to it.
A goal with a deadline would be best because then when you achieve that goal it’s going to feel amazing. You’ll know that you’re capable of following through. Then when you get that one, do another one. This is how you build trust with yourself.
This is your own personal trust exercise. You have to believe that you’ll catch yourself when you begin to fall.
As you trust yourself, you’ll be able to set boundaries.
Boundaries aren’t just for other people, but also for yourself. Whether they’re health boundaries, personal care boundaries, work boundaries.
Not allowing yourself to push yourself too hard. Not allowing yourself to work outside of office hours. Not allowing yourself to NOT care for yourself.
Those are boundaries that you need to keep.
Then celebrate yourself when you keep those boundaries. When you do, you’re teaching yourself how to keep boundaries and how to be proud of yourself when you do.
This will also teach you to respect yourself. You respect who you trust. When you begin to trust yourself, you learn how to respect yourself.
You deserve that. Here’s part 2 of this Boundaries series. We’ll begin to talk about how to keep boundaries with others and respect yourself enough to hold them tightly.
As always, never forget: You are strong. You are capable. You are intelligent. You are Worthy. And you DESERVE to be respected. I can’t wait to talk to you on Tuesday. Love you!
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