"Nobody will tell you to set boundaries. All the people around you benefit from your giving nature. Check yourself and slow down if you're giving too much."
- Sylvester McNutt III
Boundaries have a way of implying a division, or a blockade of sorts. However, over the years, I have learned that they serve a much greater purpose. Boundaries, like walls of a building or a house, are meant to protect us, keeping us safe from rain, snow and other storms that could possibly cause us harm.
When we think of boundaries in the same way, we realize that they are there for our protection, and not to block out the ones we love.
Boundaries are necessary, because whether we like it or not, everyone is not a kind-hearted soul after our well-being.
Just like there are good people in this world, there will always be people out there that could be called "energy-drainers". These people may not even know they are doing it, but they have the power to suck our energy and drain us, but only if we allow them to. These people could be colleagues, bosses, family members, or even strangers.
That is why it is so important that we communicate our boundaries and assert them if we are feeling that our energy is being threatened.
A lot of the times, I have seen that happiness relates a lot to how strong someone's boundaries are. More often that not, people who are too kind and giving will be taken advantage of. Their giving nature will be seen as a trait to exploit, and the wrong people will surely swoop in and exploit them until there is nothing left.
Here are some ways that you can start enforcing your boundaries in your day to day life:
If you feel exhausted just thinking about a situation, or if you feel that someone is trying to guide you into a direction that is not authentic to you, say something. Sometimes people may not even be aware of what they are doing.
However, sometimes they are. In a situation like this, be prepared to stand your ground and affirm your opinion. There is always a chance that you will be met with opposition, and although it may be tough at first, resist the urge to relinquish your opinion. It may be easier to try and find a compromise, but if your viewpoint is truly something you believe in, you need to speak your truth. Think about the larger implications here: if you are to be passive in a situation like this, what other situations will you be passive in?
Speaking up can be hard at first, but is a necessary first step in knowing what you and will and will not tolerate. Remember that only you set your boundaries, and only you can communicate when they are being infringed upon.
Be Prepared for Opposition
I have learned recently that your boundaries will always be tested when you are not ready.
When we least expect it, we may encounter someone who has a strong opposing opinion, and we have the choice to either let it go or to defend ourselves. Most of the time, choosing to defend ourselves in a respectful manner is the way to go.
We may not agree with others on everything, but if the other party is determined to undermine you and make you feel small, do not accept that behavior. Having a debate is one thing, but talking down to someone is another.
Knowing what you will and won't tolerate helps when you are building your boundaries. When you know what is in your best interests and you affirm it, you will start building the basis for strong boundaries.
Commit to Yourself
Lastly, boundary-setting is hard. It is something that I still struggle with and that a lot of people are struggling with as well. However, it is important to know where to draw the line in any situation, and to stand your ground.
At first, it may feel foreign and you may even question yourself. You may wonder whether you are making the right decision, but if this decision makes you happier in the long-run, then it is the decision worth fighting for.
So, lean into the discomfort. If you feel a gut instinct to stand up, then speak your truth and affirm it. As you continue to do this, it will get easier every time, eventually developing into a habit.
So in the end, building boundaries helps to protect us and protect our energy. It is a habit that allows us to show up as our full, authentic selves while also feeling happy that we live in alignment with our values. Rather than creating a dividing line, it helps others to understand us better, and gives us a better sense of self.
In short, setting boundaries is a worthwhile practice that helps you show up as the best version of yourself. So set your boundaries unapologetically and affirm them. You deserve it.