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How to Navigate Space for Yourself


Sarah’s Story

Like many women, Sarah felt overwhelmed by the demands of her life. Amid life's chaos, she found herself overwhelmed by endless pressures on her time and energy. While Sarah enjoyed helping people, the myriad of demands and requests caused her to feel resentful at times. She had little time to care for herself, which drained her energy even more. It wasn't until a frustrating encounter with a particularly demanding friend that she realized a change was needed.


Sarah decided she would prioritize her emotional well-being by setting boundaries. Though initially challenging, she communicated her needs openly and stood firm in her convictions.

Setting boundaries wasn't easy at first. Sarah felt guilty saying no, afraid of disappointing or upsetting those around her. But as she began to prioritize her own needs and limits, something remarkable happened. Sarah started to feel more empowered and in control of her life.


She began by communicating openly and honestly with those close to her, explaining the need for space and time to recharge. Some were understanding, while others pushed back, but Sarah stood firm in her convictions.


With each boundary she set, a weight lifted off her shoulders. Sarah no longer felt obligated to say yes to every invitation or request. Instead, she learned to discern what truly mattered and invested her time and energy accordingly.


What are Boundaries?

It’s important to understand what we mean when talking about boundaries. Boundaries are the limits we set. Like a fence around your yard, a personal boundary keeps unwanted things, people, etc. out of your space. Boundaries also provide protection from unwanted things.

Imagine a warm embrace — comforting, protective, and uniquely yours. Boundaries, much like an embrace, define the space we inhabit, shaping our interactions and safeguarding our soul. They whisper, "This is me," amidst the clamor of external influences.

 

In our journey of self-discovery, boundaries can become our steadfast companions, guiding us toward authenticity and wholeness. They empower us to honor our values and align our actions with our beliefs.

At their core, personal boundaries are the gentle yet firm limits we set with ourselves and others to nurture our sense of safety and completeness. Each boundary, unique in its form and purpose, serves as a marker of self-respect and self-care.


Here are a few ways we can start to set boundaries for ourselves:


Saying No

No is a word many of us are taught is unkind or unfair so we are reluctant to use it. As children we may have been scolded for saying no. This leaves a powerful impression on our hearts, that saying no is a bad thing. Rather than enduring the discomfort and perceived potential consequences of setting a boundary, we compromise our authenticity and say “yes” to things we don’t want to do. 


Defining the Limits of Acceptable Behavior

The limits of acceptable behavior are specific to every individual. Something that is hurtful for one person may not even be noteworthy for another. Limits serve a protective function by minimizing the amount of harm or disruption another person can cause. An example many of us are likely familiar with might be: “When you message me late at night it wakes me up. I’d like it if you would wait until the morning to send funny memes.”


Articulating Expectations

Clearly articulating expectations help define the role of each person in the relationship and helps both parties meet each other’s needs. An expectation can be something as simple as expecting your friend to return your shirt in the same condition it was in when they borrowed it.


Here are some questions to consider when creating boundaries:

What do you value? Do your boundaries reflect your values?


What are the needs of the other person or the situation? Can my values and the other person’s work together?


How is this situation affecting me emotionally and psychologically? What might be the effect on my mental health if I do or don’t set this boundary?


If my boundaries are not honored, what will be my response? It’s good to have a plan in place when boundaries are disrespected.


How will you communicate your boundaries?

 

Boundaries are important to living a healthy life. If you have not had healthy boundaries in the past, it may take some work to establish them. It’s easy to fall back into old patterns of either being too accommodating or too strict with our boundaries. While it may be difficult at first, establishing healthy boundaries in all areas is essential for a happy, productive life.

 

 

 

 

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