Setting Healthy Boundaries
We all for the most part have a sensational appetite for greatness. It’s what drives us to do so many things throughout the course of our life. But what happens when that appetite pushes us too far? When the work no longer serves your purpose and you’ve fallen into that trap of spinning your wheels. You know, when the effort you put out supersedes the return but you seemingly continue with your actions anyway. We’ve all been there. Whether it is work related, or a personal relationship (friend, family or significant other) it’s easy to get caught in this pattern because of hope or the emotional ties that have developed over time or the idea of not wanting to give up. But at what cost do you keep going? And furthermore, when do we arrive to the point to which we deem it appropriate or OK to say enough is enough?
No one wants to give up on things or see themselves as a quitter but is it really quitting if what you are doing isn’t of any benefit to your cause or purpose? If you think about it this way, letting go of something because it opens up space for something else better to take its place that will serve and benefit your life in a positive way, you are actually really winning when all is said and done.
I believe boundaries are a great place to start with this idea and that is the conversation I would like to have this week. When I think back to circumstances or environments where I have been far too giving of myself, receiving nothing in return, many times the common denominator that I find is the lack of boundaries that have been set. The idea that I somehow haven’t communicated, not only to myself but, to the other parties involved what my needs are for the energy I put forth. I don’t mean this in the way of saying to someone, in order for me to do X I need to receive Y and I certainly don't want to perpetuate the idea that you should only give or do to get but, it is important to be aware of just what you are giving away when you engage with others at any level. When you don’t put boundaries in place you are far more likely to be taken advantage of, used, and pushed to the edge. The killer part is that most of these “free give-a-ways” take place without you being conscious.
So how do we start implementing boundaries to ensure our needs are met in the best way possible without seeming selfish, insensitive, and downright mean? Well, first it is important to find out what your needs are. How can you set boundaries for something if you don’t know what it is that you want? Ask yourself what would make the experience worth your energy. Your answer here is whatever gives your act meaning. Perhaps it's a feeling of personal joy, hope, safety, love, or it's something more tangible like increased knowledge or information, support, position, etc. ... I love to give things value and find it most helpful when I do. This could be something you find useful as well. Once you have come up with what is important and necessary for you, you give yourself a point to come back to when and if you notice things straying off course. A point of reference if you will. A question to ask yourself at any point and time that you’ve already given answer to. Value and purpose.
Secondly, stay curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Do your best to refrain from jumping into things without having all of the necessary info needed to make the decision that will best suit you. The easiest way to do this is to ask as many questions as possible. If someone is asking something of you, be sure to find out what their expectations are. By doing this you open yourself up to healthy dialogue and invite communication and conversation into your space even if it seems fearful. You also create the idea of engagement in which the other party now feels that they are an important part of your decisions and actions making for a more balanced playing field and relationship. Whether you are using the information they provide for your own clarity, or not, everyone loves to feel as if they are being made a priority. Asking viable questions helps you to do just that while you serve your own purpose at the same time.
The final and, in my opinion, most important piece of the puzzle is to figure out when and where you personally max out. What is the final straw? This will of course vary from experience or relationship to relationship but if you fail to deliver to yourself here everything else we’ve discussed surrounding boundaries is useless. I can’t count how many times I’ve nearly drowned myself in frustration, guilt, sorrow, defeat, etc. ... all because I didn’t create a hard limit and know when to get out or address something. I never gave myself that specific point of what was too much. This can be difficult when things aren’t automatically quantifiable by numbers which brings us back to the notion of value.
Typically my value scale ranges from 1-10 and 6/7 is about where I start to tap out. In my opinion the higher the level of value the greater the quality of experience and overall life. No one is going to value your time, effort, and energy if you don’t. So, take control and get what you want and need out of each and every opportunity.
This week I challenge you to carefully implement the strategy of these three components into your life. With new experiences/ relationships and old or existing ones alike. Remain conscious of the expectations you’ve set with yourself and see how that framework and foundation is of benefit to your quality of life as a whole.
Remember “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” - Tony Gaskins