I spent most of my life as a people-pleaser that had an extreme lack of boundaries. I thought that made me a better person but in reality, it suppressed my own personality from truly developing and left me feeling drained and rather alone.
During my healing journey from severe illness, I was forced to create boundaries because my body simply couldn't keep up anymore. I had to learn to say no to family and friends whether it was to attend a special event, to spend the holidays together, or to simply answer the phone. My energy levels were severely depleted and I could no longer juggle all the balls no matter how hard I tried. Every time I tried to push myself, my body punished me severely.
They are finding that the people-pleasing habit actually does create autoimmune illnesses. After a certain point of self-sacrifice, the body simply says enough is enough and will force you to put your own needs first. Hopefully, you haven't gotten to that point but I'm sure if you are reading this, you have realized the need to start developing better boundaries in your own life.
Boundaries help keep us safe. They are like an energetic fence that you build around your soul. If we didn't have a fence around our yard here in El Salvador, we would be running goats, cows, and dogs off of our property throughout the day. It would be an exhaustive battle that never ends. Just like the physical fence boundary around our house makes our lives easier here, your personal boundaries can help make your life easier too.
We all have different needs when it comes to boundaries but generally, you can create boundaries around your work life, your home life, your friendships, your romantic relationships, and your hobbies that can help you feel a lot better. Here are some examples of boundaries that you can set:
“I can only stay for an hour”
“If you’re going to be late, please let me know ahead of time.”
“I don’t have the energy to help you with [their request] right now, but maybe [this resource] can help.”
“I understand you’re having a hard time and I want to be there for you, but I don’t have the emotional capacity to listen right now.”
Personal Space Boundary
“It makes me feel uncomfortable when you [touch or action]. If you can’t respect my space, I’ll have to leave.”
"I need alone time for 20 minutes when I get home so I can decompress and be more present for you."
"We see the world differently on this topic and I would like to change the subject to something more positive."
“This is not a topic I’m willing to discuss right now.”
“I don’t find those types of comments funny.”
“I understand we see things differently and I respect your opinion, but please don’t force it on me.”
“Please ask me first before using my [possession]”
“I would appreciate it if you didn’t touch my [material thing].”
Social Media Boundary
“I don’t feel comfortable with you posting that on Facebook.”
Boundaries can be a way to protect your energy levels in mind, body, and spirit. If you continuously say "yes", are always there for others, and tolerate behaviors that you don't want then you are building a life of self-sacrifice and martyrdom rather than purpose and joy.
Setting boundaries can feel really awkward at first. It can feel like it makes you a "bad" person when you are setting new rules that your family, friends, and colleagues aren't used to. But setting boundaries can also feel really good!! It can help decrease your stress levels, improve the quality of your relationships, and help eliminate toxic relationships.
Here are seven questions to reflect on that can help you develop healthier boundaries:
What causes my daily stress, frustration, and overwhelm?
What areas of my life do I feel exhausted by?
What do I dread doing each day?
Who in my life do I feel drained by?
What do I truly enjoy doing?
What or who gives me energy?
What makes me feel safe, supported, and valued?
Once you have answered these questions, you should have some clarity on where you need to set boundaries and who you may need to set them with specifically. Reflect on how you can set these boundaries to feel less drained and stressed.
The most important part of setting boundaries is clear communication. If you don't communicate your needs and expectations then there is no way that they can be met. You get what you tolerate in life so if you want something to change, it is important to communicate your boundaries and no longer tolerate that behavior.
If you take a moment to close your eyes and connect with your intuition right now, what is one boundary that you know you need to set?