Boundaries have become a hot topic of late, as more and more people realise that they are absolutely necessary in protecting their mental fitness, job satisfaction, and relationships. The rise of working from home, and the emergence of Quiet Quitting have really pushed the conversation to the fore, allowing people to begin asserting their needs with much less fear than what maybe used to be the case.
Of course, boundaries can really be a sensitive topic for many, especially women – we do tend to be “people pleasers”, not wanting to offend someone by not saying yes, or be taken the wrong way, or heaven forbid have someone think we’re “mean” or uncaring. As humans we just love to judge, and unfortunately the person that we judge the most is ourselves! Just give yourself one day (that’s all it takes!) to log each time you notice that you’re judging yourself. Your judgement journal will quickly fill up, and so often it’s the same message, over and over and over… and over.
Guilt. “Should”. Worry. Anxiety. Fear.
All these emotions about something we think we should have done, or things we did that just weren’t quite right, or could have been done “better”.
Boundaries really go to the core of this – we judge ourselves for the feeling of having let someone down.
But I have a question for you:
- Is it better to set boundaries and feel guilty that you may have hurt someone’s feelings, or to feel resentment for the other person by going beyond what you want or need?
I know which one I would pick, All. Day. Long.
So how do we know when a good time is to set boundaries? I mean, I used to work in investment banking, and my personality type found it so hard to set boundaries! I was always “on”, feeling this obligation to be as “hard core” as the industry expected, to keep up with the Joneses, to reply to emails at 11pm (with absolute gibberish on reflection, mind you!), to work on weekends, and to just keep up to the expectations I was putting on myself (yes, there go the Judgement Journal entries flying off the page!).
I think some of you reading this might be similar (a little at least 😊), with not leaving work at a reasonable time, or dragging yourself to networking drinks when you just need a nap, or working from your sofa as you type away with a box of Kleenex and covid sweats.
In such instances, when trying to work out when to set a boundary when there seem to be so many competing “shoulds”, a second great question to ask yourself is:
- Is thinking about this particular obligation making me feel sick with stress or overwhelm?
Am I truly pushing myself into doing something that makes every nerve in my body scream at me, just to please someone else? And let me tell you right now – the story that you’re telling yourself about what this other person is thinking is not true. This is your unhelpful, and let’s face it a bit manic, interpretation of what is going on in someone else’s mind. You will never know their truth, no matter how much you think you know or understand them. Hell, they may not even notice that you’ve just set a boundary for yourself! How about that!?
So give yourself permission to look after yourself, my friend, especially in this wild time of year, and your body, brain and soul will thank you for taking care of them.