Back off my boundaries baby

Boundaries are important and yet the thought of setting them can ignite absolute panic because the reality is that we’re just not that used to the thought of establishing our preferences for ourselves and others. It’s scary. Boundaries help you to feel emotionally and physically stable and a lack of clear boundaries can impact you in lots of ways triggering stress. 

I never really knew what boundaries were until I had therapy and the therapist was telling me to set certain emotional boundaries for relationships. Blissfully unaware of the benefits, I became aware of how important it is to conduct these sorts of mental exercises to protect my mental well-being. It doesn’t have to be something that’s physical (think written notes or phone notes) it can just be a mental tally you keep in your head. I didn’t realise the importance of having these boundaries and standards until I noticed a major trend in the men I was dating and being drawn to. I had become somewhat fixated on the emotionally unavailable man – something about having to really fight for interest and attention felt appealing to me at the time and I didn’t have clear boundaries within myself to know what I deserved. Having a mental checklist in my head for me has been a majorly positive aspect of dating and of now being in a relationship. The compass that I have hard wired to my needs allows me to feel innately aware of what does and doesn’t feel good for me. 

My flatmate said something really important this morning to me, I was feeling upset because I was wanting more support with something and she said “but have you communicated what you want?” This question kind of stopped me in my tracks and made me realise that I actually hadn’t communicated anything to them. As she said to me “you can’t be pissed off if you haven’t said what you’re expecting of them” and this is ultimately true. The important thing with communicating boundaries is accepting that feeling frustrated with what someone does is futile if you don’t actually communicate those feelings in a meaningful way. 

Accept that it’s difficult and requires some time to actually consider what you need but know that setting boundaries is never selfish, it makes you self-aware. Last summer I remember my friend called me, my heart was racing when she said she wanted to speak to me about something. A lot of my summer had been consumed with the overwhelming feelings I had for someone, even though the situation had ended I remember it took a toll on my mental health and I used my friend as an emotional crutch for most of that period. Of course, friends are there for a reason and it’s important to have that support network in hard times but this isn’t a hall pass that you can take advantage of for your own needs (without returning the favour). That was a rough patch and admittedly I wasn’t the best for offering support and as she told me, there were times when she felt like the conversations were always one-sided and focused only on what I was going through… absolutely not cool on my behalf. Having this chat with her, though not the easiest nor nicest to, was totally necessary. It made our friendship stronger and we knew what was acceptable from that point onwards. 

Setting boundaries is a really important way to communicate our needs. They don’t have to be grand gestures they can just be small changes that help the relationships you have to function better. They don’t have to be daunting conversations but can just be a kind reminder to someone if something feels off to you. The main thing to remember is that the boundaries you set are your choice and that they can really provide the safety blanket you need to maintain your identity and to protect your space and that’s allowed. 

 

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