What ‘having boundaries’ means to me

It’s such a loaded word ‘boundaries’. People say it with such gravitas sometimes. ‘Know your boundaries’ they might say when coaching you on how to deal with life. ‘Make sure you put good boundaries in place’ they might say when advising you on how to deal with new colleagues. ‘She’s got no idea how to set boundaries’ they might say when criticising someone on how they run their affairs.

What does this mean? I’m no expert, but here’s what I understand ‘boundaries’ to mean in the context of my life.

It means I know when to gently pull back from a relationship that no longer feels reciprocal or fun.

It means I will run the risk of offending a distant acquaintance or casual friend if I turn down an invitation that doesn’t suit me on that particular day.

It means sometimes I prioritise my mental health, physical wellbeing (i.e. tiredness levels) and the health and wellbeing of my immediate family before I bow to the needs of  others around me.

It means I try not to put pleasing other people first all the time.

It means I try to be aware when another person is sucking up a lot of the oxygen around me – more than I can spare – and that only giving myself some space from that person will spare me some oxygen.

It doesn’t mean I intentionally set out to be mean, unthinking, offensive or unkind. It just means that I recognise that not all of the people can be pleased all of the time, and that some people require an awful lot of attention that I can’t consistently offer to them.

It means I care about myself. Recognising that if I am un-stressed, well-rested and calm I’m better off to every person in my life and myself.

@maryisnotafairy wrote this great quote in the Members Feed the other day: ““Saying yes all the time won’t make me Wonder Woman. It will make me worn-out woman”. And that’s the point. I am no good to anyone if I am consistently exhausted, strung out and resentful.

So I try to put some boundaries in place.

Sometimes I politely turn down invitations. Sometimes I delicately & slowly retreat from people. Sometimes I ignore the phone when it rings because it doesn’t suit me to be available right at that moment. Sometimes I even get really brave and clearly state what is acceptable (or not) to me in a working or personal relationship.

It’s not always easy setting boundaries but I do think it’s a smart thing to do, and the more you do it the easier it gets.

I’d be interested to hear what ‘having boundaries’ means to you. And what sort of things you do to put them in place…..

Love, Mrs D xxx

6 Comments
  1. Anonymous 5 years ago

    My lack of boundaries has gotten me into quite mess at times so this is a critical issue for me. Most importantly, boundaries mean me not acting, talking, being anything but me, even if me is not particularly entertaining or adorable or fun sometimes. Boundaries means having some peaceful quiet time in every day when I can do absolutely nothing (even if I have to stay up later than usual). Also, getting to bed early so that I don’t feel stressed if I don’t fall asleep right away. And, constantly reminding myself to question artificial “friends” who are really foes in disguise and keeping that safety shield around myself in their presence. Boundaries include not putting anything into my body that I don’t want in my body or need. And, being sure that I take care of me, fully, before I start seeing to the needs of everyone else. That I love me, fully, so that I can love others. That I listen to the music I like, own the pets I like, take time for the running I love, read the books that touch my heart and soul, own nothing that is not useful or pleasurable to me, talk to God when I need to, and be authentic. It has taken me a lifetime to finally have boundaries and I cherish them.

  2. sodaandlime 5 years ago

    I think some boundaries are marked out by big, thick lines, some by thin wires and some more like a line in the sand that can be easily moved if and when required. Being sober means you are able to have clarity when deciding which boundary you need to apply to any given situation. We are wise beyond our own self-belief sometimes and learning to recognise this (now we are sober) is a real joy. Well, it is for me and I am thankful
    .

  3. Anonymous 5 years ago

    I am learning about boundaries, I was a people pleaser but never treated myself well, crazy. I love learning all this stuff

  4. Gilbert 5 years ago

    For me I am having to rethink my boundaries at home with a teen going through a rough patch and being on a spectrum that means I could punish her for something she can’t help.Tricky times and I am kind of winging it.I know our family has basic rules that don’t change no matter what. Things like no swearing or disrespect to each other.Basic hygiene and health.But now I am having to not sweat small stuff.Like her having a boys haircut or being too depressed to complete an assignment or not wanting to eat my lovely dinner. My ambitions for her will have to adjust too..maybe a lot.When she has a very superior intelligence this is damn hard to accept.
    What Chch quake taught me is if we are healthy and happy then nothing else matters too much.
    Our own comes first because we are no good to them if we can’t cope.Then comes our families and the rest get pot luck of what if anything is left over.As I get older I get better at cutting through the crap real fast.

  5. robbz 5 years ago

    I don’t set boundaries but need to learn this skill. I have learnt so much from you Mrs D

  6. KAM 5 years ago

    Boundaries to me means trying to always ensure that I am in a comfortable place or position. It doesn’t mean that I’m never uncomfortable or that I never put myself in compromising situations but it is what I strive to do. On this journey so far I’ve had to decline invitations or excuse myself from a work event to ensure that I am in a comfortable place and that I’m ok with the surrounding environment. Sometimes I stay and I am uncomfortable and others I leave or take a breather so I can be in a better place. It wasn’t easy at first and it still isn’t, but its better. I have to make sure that my sobriety (and honestly,just “me” in general) is always a priority.

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