Setting healthy boundaries is imperative to your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Learning how to set healthy boundaries is the first step toward taking action. We need to understand who we are and make choices that allow us to be the best versions of ourselves. It’s ok to say no to energy vampires.
If we don’t assert ourselves and make some tough decisions about who and what we allow in our life we end up causing more destruction in the long run.
If we allow people into our life that disrupt our serenity, simply to avoid hurting their feelings, we build resentments that can eventually lead to a blowout. All the while we’re living in a tornado of toxic energy.
You don’t have to make everyone happy. When you find happiness within yourself you’ll find that the right people and situations come into your life naturally. Setting personal boundaries is a great way to get the ball rolling on attracting the right energy. I’ve put together a few tools you can use to find and set boundaries in a healthy way.
First, it’s important to find out what you can change in your external environment and what’s eating at you internally…
Find your happy place – get in tune to what makes you smile. Take note of how you feel when you’re following your heart. Think of times when you’re the most at peace and notice what you’re doing and with whom you’re spending that time. Check your feelings when you’re performing certain activities and when you’re around certain people. Find out where your happy place is. This will be the foundation which you maintain your healthy boundaries. It’s important to center yourself and reflect on what’s important to you on a deeper level. Meditation is a great way to accomplish this and there are tons of guided meditations on Youtube that help you find inner balance.
Check yourself and your feelings – what disrupts your serenity? Take some time to think about the people and situations that frustrate you the most. When it comes to people, who do you find yourself most frustrated around? Who do you find yourself gossiping or venting about? Are there certain people you just seem to have an ongoing resentment against? Are there people and/or environments that seem to drain your energy? Do you find yourself dealing with anxiety at the thought of having to see people or go to certain places? Make note of what makes you uncomfortable and try to understand why. Again, meditation is a great way to reflect on why things bother you.
Now that you have a firm grasp on what makes you happy and what makes your stress level rise do some work on acceptance and letting go.
Probably not what you wanted to hear, but this will help immensely when you begin to set boundaries. Also, if you’re unable to let go of people and places that drive you crazy you may want to start looking at your part in the situation. Yes…sometimes we’re the problem. You may be harboring some resentments you need to do some work on letting go of.
Okay, now that we’ve accepted these people and situations for what they are. Realize that they’re not going to change and the only problem we bring to the table is continuing to allow the drama into our life. So, it’s time to set some boundaries!
In some situations it’s important to start small. In my opinion, when it comes to healthy boundaries, it’s best to start with the biggest issues. These are going to be the people and places that will cause the most damage to your peace of mind if you continue to engage. They’re also the things that will make the most dramatic change in your happiness when you remove them so start big!!
Once you decide what you need to set boundaries on figure out what you’re limits are. Can you only handle small doses of people or specific environments? Do they cause you undue stress in large doses or do you need to remove them entirely from your life?
Are you staying in an unhealthy relationship because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings? Whether it’s a job, friendship or an intimate relationship it should feel good. Of course there will be ups and downs, but you should support each other in being the best versions of yourselves (this includes your relationship with your job). If you find yourself walking on eggshells around a friend, or crying at the thought of going to work, maybe it’s time to cut the cord. When you make a decision like this it’s important to set the ground rules for yourself and stand strong. If it’s a job, obviously you may need to do some leg work to find a new job before you just put in your notice.
If it’s a longtime friend, a talk may be in order. Maybe you need to spend less time with that person and accepting invites to hang out less often is the answer. If you need to remove yourself entirely from a situation it’s okay to tell a friend or lover that you no longer feel like your headed in the same direction. If there’s known tension mention that. Let them know you feel like the tension is unhealthy and, because you want happiness for everyone, you feel like it’s a good idea to move on. As long as you’re communicating in a respectful manner it’s perfectly appropriate to tell someone exactly how you feel. Just be sure you’re being respectful.
If it’s just an acquaintance or someone you only hang out with from time to time, stop. It’s that simple. When you have the talk with a friend or partner, or make the decision to stop spending time with someone, just let it go. Move on. If the person starts to argue or discuss it further, remember you’re not required to continue the conversation. You can start following through on your boundaries in this moment. If you have nothing to defend then don’t try.
This is your life and you have no reason to defend yourself when it comes to your happiness.
You’ve already done the work to determine these are appropriate boundaries. How other people feel about them has nothing to do with you. Don’t ever feel like you have to make excuses for your feelings and choices just so someone else will agree with you. Set the boundary and done.
Here’s a quick recap of the steps to setting boundaries.
- Reflect on, and make note of, what makes you happy and what drains your energy.
- Accept the people and things that stress you out for what they are and let it go. You can only change your feelings about a situation, never the situation.
- Filter out any possible resentment you may be hanging on to. These are things you’re unable to accept and let go of. Do some internal work on those separately.
- Know your limits. Do you need to set boundaries on how much time you’re spending on a person or situation in your life, or do you need to remove it entirely? Decide on your boundaries so you know what your limits are.
- Set the boundary. Whether you’re just no longer engaging, or you need to have a conversation, do it and follow through. Don’t defend yourself and don’t attempt to make excuses. Just do it and move on.
Now that you’ve slowly worked through the people, places and things that cause stress in your life and set healthy boundaries let’s talk about maintenance.
Start by paying attention to how new situations and people make you feel when they come into your life. Do you need to set boundaries from the get go on how much of their energy you’ll allow in? It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to take things slow and evaluate how things affect your emotional wellbeing. This is your life and you have the power and the right to create an environment that feels good and healthy. Once you’ve already set some boundaries, and followed through on them, maintenance is the easy part.
Remember, you only have the power to change what you allow in your life and how it makes you feel.
Once you’ve set your boundaries, spend your time and energy on people and places that support your healthy choices. Once you’ve set your boundary don’t vent about the situation to others. Cutting a friend out of your life because they bring negative energy, just to turn around and talk about that person negatively to someone else is a bit counterproductive. Redirect your energy to things that make you happy…remember that exercise from the beginning of the article? If you completed the first practice you already know what activities and people breed positivity into your life so go spread some good vibes!
Also, when you’re focusing on the positive the positive is what you get. This simple intention will do a lot of the work in clearing negative energy from your life for you. When we center ourselves we’re able to help others spread the positive vibes the world really needs. We were not meant to spread toxic energy. We’re here to love, that is our nature.