3 Steps to Setting Boundaries

The best way to describe boundaries?  

Like a giant balloon (that you have to blow yourself) and that can never be popped from the outside (unless you let it).  

Take a moment to imagine blowing a see-through balloon the size of your body.  Then imagine stepping inside of it with enough room for you to move around. 

That’d be cool, right?  

Well, when you get honest with yourself about what you like and don’t like, it’s as if you start walking around with an adult sized balloon stretched from head to toe.  

But here’s the thing, people are gonna try to poke your balloon.  They might even try to pop it and collapse it to the floor in one fell swoop.  No matter how strong your balloon is, people will always try to burst it.  

It’s up to you to keep it intact, to keep it in place, to keep it functioning.  Because balloons will always pop unless you work to keep them inflated.  

But how do you keep your balloon inflated?  

Let’s chat about that.  

The first step is by figuring out what you want (plus a hidden weapon)  

And how do you do that?  You have to check in with yourself.  

But in order to check in with yourself, you have to acknowledge yourself.  And in order to acknowledge yourself, you have to care enough to WANT to do that in the first place.  And in order to want to do that in the first place, you have to love yourself.  

Ahh, and there’s the hidden weapon.  

Before, I didn’t love myself enough to actively check in, let alone acknowledge myself.  

I know, I know, self-love.  It’s like “a thing”.  Everyone says “love yourself” in order to: make more money, have a healthy relationship, have better sex, make a sandwich, hell even do your damn taxes.  I kid because I didn’t believe in self-love for so long.  I thought I must love myself. I don’t harm myself.  I don’t do drugs.  I eat well, sleep even better, and exercise daily.  How much more could I love myself?  

It turns out, A LOT.     

See, every time I put someone else before me, their wants, their wishes, their desires and their opinions before mine, I was taking away some of the weight of my own wants, wishes, desires, and opinions..  And each time I did that?  Well let’s just say, I got smaller and less important.  It was like I was slowly (and sometimes much faster than that) letting the air out of my balloon so that I could blow theirs up.     

I didn’t like that feeling.  I didn’t want it to be a part of my personality any longer.  

So I decided to change it.  

In my previous post I talked about how I started (and continue to) check in on a very consistent basis.  

I’ve also learned though that it’s not just about checking in.  

This is the second step.  

Once you figure out what you want, you need to act on it.  This means you need to practice being really honest with yourself.  You need to be ok with saying no or not obliging to whatever is easiest or most appealing for the situation at hand.  

This means you need to get really comfortable with other people (possibly) being uncomfortable.  This is especially true if you’ve been the smoother-over of your family / group of friends / bunch of colleagues.  If people are used to you saying things like “it’s ok, I don’t need ____” or “no worries, I can go without ____” or “I”m fine, I’ll just go after everyone else” there might be some initial kickback.    

When you begin checking in you will find that you do actually need ____ or you cannot go without ____ and yeah, actually you will go when everyone else is going because it is boring, tedious, or way more work on your end to go after everyone else has gone.    

Once you come to those realizations (and you’ve gotten comfortable with other people (possibly) being uncomfortable) YOU need to get comfortable with being comfortable.  

Let me say that again.  You need to get comfortable with being COMFORTABLE.  

And this is the third step.  

You need to learn to like paying attention to yourself.  You need to LOVE loving yourself.  

The thing is if you take the steps above but don’t acknowledge that you’re doing this to make yourself more comfortable, those old behaviors will start to creep back in.  

Part of the reason why they existed in the first place was because it was easier (or more comfortable) to let other people be satisfied, happy, or content than to let yourself feel those same emotions so it’s necessary on this new journey of yours to acknowledge that you want to feel just as good about doing things for yourself as you used to feel about doing things for others. 

Side Note: ***In no way am I saying that it’s not OK or that you shouldn’t do things for others. Giving, mentoring, taking care of other people can be an amazing feeling and a great way to bond, but it’s when the ratio of their needs to yours swings to an unruly level that you need to be careful and check back in to see where you’re at.  

Once you’ve got these three steps down like Charlie Brown, it’s time to hit that repeat button, again and again.  Just as a balloon will not stay inflated all on its own, it’s up to you to make sure you are constantly in a good space that feels good for YOU, all the while acknowledging that this “feel good” feeling will change and evolve and grow as you do.  Check out my post on Why It’s Never Over if you feel like you’re on a hamster wheel of personal development.  And enter your email address if you want access to more (like an audio training) on boundaries!   

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