Some people cringe at the idea of setting boundaries with others--strangers and loved ones alike! They worry that boundaries might upset the other person, hurt their feelings, or ruin their relationship with them. Some people simply abhor anything that feels confrontational--even if it's for their own benefit!
But it doesn't have to be that way! In fact, you'll start to notice that the people who mind your healthy boundaries are the exact people you need the strongest boundaries with anyways.
It is my opinion that a strong self-care practice includes being clear on what is not acceptable in your life., just as much as what is needed in your life to feel and do your best.
Here are several situations where setting healthy boundaries are in the best interest of all involved:
Boundaries with People:
Energy vampires. These people sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously literally suck your energy. They are the people that talk about how good they feel being around you, and you realize how drained and exhausted or chaotic you feel after being around them. The ones who maliciously do it, of course we want to avoid them at all costs! The ones who don’t realize they’re doing it are likely sucking your energy because they haven’t figured out how to sustain their own energy level yet, and if you’re a sensitive person, then your energy field is usually wide open and available. It's like holding your wrist out to a vampire and saying, "suck away!" Unless you have good boundaries! In that case, you keep your own energy and they find someone else to feed on, or in best cases, learn to replenish their own energy with their own self-care practices.
Users, Abusers, and Takers. These are the people that are constantly trying to get others to do their work for them: physical labor and emotional work alike. These people will appear helpless, and may even convince themselves that it's true, and unendingly request things of you until you give them a hard 'no.' They might be the ones you feel like a doormat around. You'll definitely feel drained by being at the beck-and-call. If it's an abuser type, then there's going to be a lot of them trying to dominate you and take your power away. Unless you are clear in your 'no."
Nosy & Demanding Peeps. These people are the ones making demands of your time and energy that make you feel uncomfortable or drained. These are the nosy type of people who have no boundaries themselves, and make requests or ask questions that make you very uncomfortable. Or they label you in a way that feels rude or invalidating. A lot of people are trained to be “nice“ no matter what, so they don’t mention the discomfort because they don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, offend anyone, or make anyone else uncomfortable. But you’re hurting yourself in the process! People who have no filter and no boundaries need to be told by others where the boundary line is so they learn not to cross it. Also, just because someone wants to know some private information of yours, it doesn't mean that you are required to share it!
People who refuse to treat you with respect. Some people have zero respect for others, only think of themselves, and never bother with concerning themselves with how their actions and inactions affect others. Life is all about them. It’s important to think long and hard if you really want to keep those people in your life. This may sound harsh, or even scary, but it is OK to fire friends, and sometimes necessary to fire family members who are not willing to respect your sovereignty over your body, your property, your time, your emotions, etc.
Boundaries with Media:
Movies, music, and any other media that promotes violence, hatred, gossip, harsh judgments, discrimination, etc....generally anything that brings you down and makes you feel bad about yourself or puts you in a bad mood does not belong in your media “diet." (this applies to food too, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic)
Boundaries within Your Home/Work Environment:
This is soooo important for HSP's! Forcing yourself to "suck it up and deal" with harsh environments when you could speak up for yourself and make it amenable to your needs is like allowing livestock to walk into your house because you "don't want to inconvenience anyone" by asking that the front door stays closed. That's a silly example, but I hope the ridiculousness of it illustrates the point well! I'm talking about harsh lights, loud sounds, uncomfortable seating arrangements, fabrics in your clothes that feel uncomfortable, scented candles that co-workers or family members want to burn that churn your stomach or give you a headache, scented laundry detergent....the list can go on. If you're reading this blog, then you most likely can advocate for some, if not all, of those items in your environment to be changed.
Knowing Your Limit. You are the one in control over how much time you spend socializing and how often, as well as being around people and environments that drain your energy. Are your friends begging you to stay out longer and you feel bad declining? Is your energy fading at an event but you force yourself to stay the whole time to "save face?"
This is not honoring your needs! This is a prime opportunity for setting a healthy boundary. Staying in social situations long after you feel like you’ve already “turned into a pumpkin” will not make your friends like you more. More than likely, you'll turn into a hangry friend-zilla, resenting them for wanting more of your precious time and energy, and resenting yourself for being there in the first place.
Plus, when we honor our own bodies and our own needs, it unconsciously gives others permission to do the same. Do you love yourself and your friends enough to want all of your needs to be met so that you are in a state of wellbeing? I hope the answer is yes!
What’s something you’re ready to say 'no' to in order to feel your best? Start writing these down and take some baby steps if needed to get these needs met!
The bottom line: we set boundaries for others to respect us, and we set boundaries to ensure that we are respecting ourselves as well. Yes, be there for others. Be generous as you please. But the boundary is: don't abandon yourself in the process. You need to be "home" and well and cared for so you can continue giving your gifts and shining your unique light on the world. And that is why boundaries are your friend!