What ‘having boundaries’ means to me

fence with boundary sign

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 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'm 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 stop me being worn down by them.

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.

I read somewhere the other day this great quote: “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

15 Comments
  1. SugarBelly 2 months ago

    Thank you, Mrs. D.

  2. johatnn 3 months ago

    Really interesting thread! Thanks everyone.
    Got me thinking about when I was a drinker, how you give yourself permission to spend hours on it, wasting time, talking shit, goofing off, eating rubbish. Now that I’m a non drinker, I can be a bit harsh with myself. Maybe I could give myself permission to sit and relax and talk, read, watch a movie, blog here without feeling like I’m wasting time or being lazy.
    Another healthy boundary for me is, when I go out to boozy events, being ok with leaving when you’ve had enough. Not always being the sober driver.
    It’s about being mindful of our own feelings and confident in our own truth, while respecting others right to ownership of their reality. Different perspectives for different folks.
    Cheers Mrs D.

  3. LDiz 3 months ago

    MrsD. I’ve read your book twice back to back contemplating my own sobriety. I am 34, mum of 2 small ones and started drinking at 15. I too, wonder about my life with no drinking but I’m so scared to stop. I’m no means an every day hard drinker but yes I can sink a bottle ofwine by myself and still want more 🙁 i too have that voice that tells me I drink because Im bored and dont do much else for myself as I am a working mum. I fantasise daily about what not drinking might look like for me but I’m so scared to even try and what, probably fail?! HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE READY?? I feel like I have so much to say and no one to listen

    • Anonymous 3 months ago

      I did it after reading Lotta’s book too. I was so afraid of a life without alcohol i even feared that I wouldn’t enjoy my sons wedding without alcohol- how awful is that when you actually think about it! but I read everything I could about it and went for it. I am 10 months in now which might seem unattainable to you right now but it truly isn’t…I looked in the mirror every night hating myself for not being able to have one or 2 glasses now I smile at that person and I can honestly say I’ve not regretted my choice for more than a split second. I sometime feel wistful but instantly remember that I’m free and I want to stay that way. Put the groundwork in until you firmly believe you want to do it and treat yourself to freedom from alcohol its not easy but its absolutely worth it!

  4. Lovenlight 3 months ago

    Thank you Mrs. D for this awesome reminder. I really needed it immensely.

  5. Antwan 3 months ago

    Lovely! And timely! Thank you

  6. Murph 3 months ago

    I left a comment a day or so ago. But the post has been swirling around in my mind. It’s such a big thing for me – having healthy boundaries. Those aspects of myself that have been a part of leading me to numbing myself with alcohol – that suppressing of my true self over what i think others are expecting of me – they’re tied in with healthy boundaries. When i read this post first i was all focused on others and my having healthy boundaries to them – not being susceptible to manipulation, not being bullied, etc. But I realise now that my biggest challenge is the healthy boundaries with myself.

    I’m currently reading Laura Mckewan’s “We are the luckiest”. I’m at chapter 10 – the truth about lying. It’s just made me realise that I don’t help myself with healthy boundaries as I lie to myself about what I really want, what is ok. I try to become what I think others want me to be, irrespective of what I want. All the while inside there is something dark and angry continually festering and growing. Time to create authentic boundaries, I think. Time to also stop numbing that festering, angry darkness with alcohol and to truly connect with myself! If you haven’t read that book – it’s worth a read. I’ve had so many moments of OMG – YES!

    I see my hold on “The Wine-O’Clock Myth” has just come through – can’t wait to get started on that too, Mrs D. Loving what you have created here and very, very grateful for it!!

  7. Rosieoutlook 3 months ago

    This is just what I needed to read tonight, so thank you Lotta. After nearly 7 years of being AF and nearing the big 5 O, I’m finding my tolerance with people low at the moment, and was concerned about why that was. But now I just have to readjust my boundaries and remember to not be everything to everyone and to keep myself and my immediate family in the front of my mind. Life can get so full of trying to please everyone, that we forget we can release people and things, to bring us back to a zen life as we continue to live with our raw feelings 24/7 in an awesome AF life. Xx

  8. Pollyrue 3 months ago

    Lots of what is already said here and boundaries are treating my interior life, myself, with the people I carefully pick.

  9. Mari135 3 months ago

    Very timely and much needed. xoxo Thanks heaps!

  10. JM 3 months ago

    Great post. Boundaries for me include what goes in my mind – if I’m going down a certain mental path, being resentful or filled with indignation, I might try to stop myself in the tracks and send compassion to myself, the other person. I’m trying to free up some mind space for more calm and love. Work in progress. x

  11. fridaymay92014 3 months ago

    You said it best. Thank you.

  12. Daisy70 3 months ago

    Thank you Mrs D for opening this box called “boundaries”. For me setting boundaries is all the things you mentioned and I’m getting better and better at seeing them and making choices, as I recognized how important it is to put myself first in my life (without being selfish) to cultivate and maintain my sobriety. There is also another side of “boundaries” that I want to explore. It came to me a few days ago, as I was listening to a talk from David Whyte, in which he asked this beautiful question: “what promises do I need to break?” What promises did I make to myself and others, that are keeping me a certain way… keeping me inside boundaries that life and circonstances created around me, and are not to the best interest of whom I want to be. Sobriety brought me freedom and I need to explore the boundaries I keep myself and my life in. We always live inside boundaries. Sobriety gives us a freedom to accept some and to choose others.

  13. Frog 3 months ago

    I like this. Examples of boundaries for me include: giving without expectation.

  14. Murph 3 months ago

    Wow! The was beautifully put. I don’t think I could add anything further. It aligns with what I consider to be healthy boundaries.

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