I think a big reason why we sometimes avoid setting boundaries is because we think don’t know how to do it. However, it turns out the setting boundaries is like everything else, getting good takes practice.
And so like Zig Ziglar said ‘anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can learn to do it well’.
Instead of shying away from setting boundaries because you think you’ll do it badly, embrace where you’re at and in time you’ll get better at it.
Sometimes the choice you have to make is between taking care of yourself and meeting other peoples expectations.
Nobody wants to be considered a let down which is why often people end up putting themselves aside and focusing more on other people. But you shouldn’t treat yourself as though you don’t matter, you matter just as much as everyone else.
It shouldn’t take you sacrificing yourself in order for other people to be happy.
And maybe you haven’t even realised that you’re doing it. Perhaps it just takes you looking at things as an outsider to realise, you’re so focused on meeting other peoples needs that you’ve stopped making time to tend to your own.
When it comes to making things happen, we sometimes underestimate the power of letting things go.
We have to make room in our lives for the things we want instead of holding on to the things we no longer need for the sake of nostalgia or fear of change. Sometimes, we feel like letting go means we don’t value things. Other times, we convince ourselves that holding on to the memories will not be enough.
You might even be holding on to the fear that if you let go of something you’ll end up wanting it back or that nothing else good will come into your life.
But letting go is powerful.
It shows that you’re not willing to keep what you don’t need, that you believe better is possible and that you’re open.
On the flipside, holding on to things that you no longer need shows the total opposite.
So often, we get deeply and strongly attached. We hope that things will remain as they are.
We fear that change might bring in what we don’t want and clear out what we do want.
But, I like to believe that as wonderful and perfect as things might be right now, everything could be different and still be wonderful and perfect.
That serves as a reminder that it’s okay for things to change.
There is no need to hold great attachment to the way things are, in doing so we don’t allow space for the new.
New might not be ‘better’ but it will be different. It’s the opportunity to experience something you’ve never experienced, it’s a chance to learn and grow.
Sometimes in life you can be so set on knowing yourself and figuring out who you are that you don’t leave room for flexibility.
I think it’s important to find the balance between knowing yourself, whilst still remaining open to new things.
You don’t want to end up being rigid.
However, the reason we close ourselves off to new things is because it can take a lot of effort to change.
Your thoughts, opinions, beliefs and world view took a long time to develop and become what they are today. Being open to new information that could change any of that can feel like more hassle than it’s worth. Or maybe it feels like a threat to your sense of self.
Suddenly, the things you aspired to, cared about and believed in are different. It’s almost like you’ve become someone new, which is not a bad thing. However, the hard part can come from showing up as a changed person and letting go of your old self.
When your life gets overwhelming and everything feels like too much, you might need to strip things back for a little while.
When you remove things from your life it makes you realise whether you really want or even need them.
You could log out of your social media accounts (or at least mute everyone you follow) and then see how much you miss it. It’s not about quitting altogether but more that perhaps you’ll miss catching up on tidbits of your long distance friends lives but are no longer interested in following your favourite clothing brands. You might also find that you’re not so fussed to go back to following a bunch of strangers who rarely go a day without telling you to buy something.
You could create a capsule wardrobe and see how it feels to get ready with less choice. You might find that you miss having the variety of items and the fun of choosing what to wear. But on the flipside you might become aware of how much time you used to waste finding the right outfit because your closet was full of clothes you didn’t really like.
Lastly, you could strip back your social life. Instead of catching up over dinner and drinks or going dancing, go for lunch alone, get a juice alone and focus on spending time with yourself.
Doing this reminds you of the people you enjoy spending time with the most but also reminds you what you enjoy spending your time doing. You might realise you don’t normally make enough time to do things alone or that you prefer your own company to the company of certain people you’ve gotten into the habit of spending time with.
Who you are does not have to be so rigid that you force yourself to be defined by ticking several boxes and sticking to them. You can be one thing today and another thing next week.
So often we go through life trying to find ourselves and figure out who we are so that we can settle into ourselves. Yet in doing so we end up limiting ourselves because maybe who you thought you were or wanted to be at 20 will be very different to who you evolve into in your 30s.
We focus on things like having a career that we work towards from our teen or even pre-teen years. We assume that the plans we made 10+ years ago won’t change. And even when they have changed we struggle to let go because it opens us up to changing and exploring ourselves once more. We aren’t always ready for that because there is societal pressure to figure yourself out and settle down.
You’re told that you need to have your life together by a certain age which sometimes leads to you making choices to do things that you don’t even really want to do. And if you get to 30 or 40 and you’re still exploring you’re considered somewhat fringe, unconventional and even looked down on.
But maybe you don’t value the things that other people value. Perhaps you’re very aware of the life that you could or could have lived but you’ve chosen another path that has lead to a deeper exploration of life and self. Something you’d have never had the option to do if you had chosen to give in to expectations of the way that life should be.
If you get someone used to treating you a certain way or acting in a particular way towards you, the person will come to expect you to allow it.
Sometimes you allow things that you aren’t okay with because you don’t want to rock the boat, hurt the persons feelings or you’ve told yourself that being clear about what you’re not okay with is confrontational. And so instead of saying, ‘I’m not okay with you doing that’ you say, ‘No worries’ or ‘It’s okay’.
Doing this teaches the other person that you’re okay with what they’re doing. We often fall into the idealism of thinking people will automatically know what we’re thinking or feeling but it’s not true. We shouldn’t expect people to read our minds when we can use our voices.
I’m not sure who said it but there’s a quote or perhaps a tweet that goes something like ‘You have to teach people how to treat you’. Yet, we’re taught to almost just accept how we’re treated as long as a person doesn’t have bad intentions.
I find that the relationships where I am very clear, where I call things out instead of letting them slide, are the ones that I feel most comfortable in. When you put pressure on yourself to always be fine with everything even when you’re not it builds up feelings of resentment, anger or frustration and that energy has to go somewhere.
It either leads to an outburst towards the person you should have been clear with from the start or an outburst at someone totally unrelated to the situation.
I have this belief about the people that we meet.
I believe that sometimes we meet people who may be in our lives for a few days, a few months or maybe for years and years but we meet them and they become reminders. They remind us of the way that things can be.
Maybe there is something in your life that is challenging, frustrating, difficult or stressful, the total opposite of easeful. Chances are, within your mind you know that things could or even should be different but you’re so used to the way that things are that you just allow them to remain.
Then all of a sudden you meet a person that shows you a different way. It can be shocking or surprising because you’re not used to it. Maybe you even judge it as being wrong or not the way that things should be because you’re so used to them being otherwise. Sometimes the ease of the situation is the very thing that you’ve been longing for but when you get it, you almost resist because you’ve gotten used to things being difficult .
I think that’s something a lot of people struggle with. So many people are used to things being difficult that they almost get hesitant when things become easier. Sometimes we unknowingly use the challenge and the difficulty to justify getting the thing we want. You end up feeling as though if you didn’t have to struggle to achieve something then you didn’t really deserve it. I think it’s healthy to let go of that mindset, not everything has to be difficult.
When your life isn’t quite going how you anticipated. You might have the thought to start over. Often this takes a while to actually begin.
Starting over goes from being something scary that you choose to avoid (because you’d rather be unhappy with what you know than risk things being any worse if you try something new) to being something that is worth the risk.
The mindset goes from I’d rather stick with what I know and be miserable than venture out into the unknown to I’d rather venture out into the unknown than stick with what I know and be miserable.
As time passes, the value we place on familiarity in situations when we’re unhappy often decreases. It’s no longer considered worth it to stay in your current circumstances because if you’re unhappy now, the worst case scenario is starting over and still being unhappy. However, often things turn out significantly better.