Boundaries Are Crucial!

I hadn’t realized that it has been a year and a half since I have written.  I knew it had been awhile, I mean, I took a break on purpose, but daaaaaang.   I had my reasons for leaving and they are valid, I promise. I needed to think about what I was doing some more.  When you choose to speak out about your own battles, it’s an act of vulnerability. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is brave, but it’s important to have set boundaries.  That whole boundaries thing? Yeah I had looked over that part…

I want to reiterate the purpose for this blog.  This is me being a storyteller, as in sharing my own experiences living with a mental health condition.  This is me sharing information that I find useful to others, or maybe I find it fascinating, whatever it is, I am sharing with you.  What I am not…is a therapist. I cannot give advice or play the part of a counselor. There are people trained to do that, and many of them are AMAZING!  My own therapist was incredible and she helped me in oh so many ways through my healing process. I am hoping that when I share with you, it is helping you to not feel alone in this world.  I am also hoping that my being open about my own struggles, successes, observations, will help destigmatize mental illness.  

I want to hear from you.  I do! I want you to comment, definitely!  If you have had a similar situation, tell me about it.  If you have dealt with something successfully and have a plan of attack, by all means, share!  But if you begin asking me what to do in a given situation, my only response will be to find a therapist, counselor, crisis center, or hotline to assist you.  I want you to be well, and that kind of help is way, WAY above my pay grade.  

In other words, I’m still figuring this life out myself…

With that being said, let’s talk about BOUNDARIES!

What is a boundary?  Merriam-Webster defines it as “something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent.”  In the context of personal boundaries, it is the limit’s you set as to what you will tolerate from others as well as what you will allow for yourself.  Boundaries have degrees of seriousness.  It can be as simple as I will not accept phone calls after 8 p.m. to I will not allow you to touch me in a certain way, whether that be assertive or sexual.  Boundaries are imperative and setting them gives us a sense of safety and balance.  When we feel uncomfortable in a situation, more than likely a boundary has been crossed.  Communicating these boundaries openly can seem difficult.  What if I hurt their feelings?  What if they get angry?  Will they think I am weird?  Going to share some truth, yes they may.  But guess what?  It does not matter. Boundaries are for your protection and anyone who believes that they should (a.) be an exception to the rule or (b.) makes you feel that your boundary is invalid, is just plain wrong.  Seriously, it’s that simple.  We all have our own history, battles, and personal preferences on how we should be treated and what we are willing to tolerate.  Set your limits AND respect the limits of others.

Most of the time, boundaries can be set without much fanfare.  An easy example, setting a time for phone calls.  Let’s say you do not accept phone calls after 8 p.m.  When a coworker/friend/acquaintance calls at 8:15 p.m., don’t answer the phone.  The next day, return the phone call, “Hey it’s Lisa.  I’m returning your call from yesterday.”  You do not even have to give them an explanation.  Your pattern of behavior will most likely train them.  Next time, if they call at 7:30 p.m., answer the phone.  If they ask for an explanation, just be honest, “I don’t accept phone calls after 8.”  That is really all you have to say.  But there are less simple circumstances.  Do you work with a hugger?  Better yet, a hugger of the opposite sex?  There are times that unwanted physical contact is under the category of sexual harassment, that isn’t what I’m talking about.  Sexual harassment is a serious problem that should be brought up to your manager or human resource department.  I’m referring to the person who considers the hug another form of a handshake, a showing of friendship, it is technically innocent in it’s performance but that doesn’t mean it makes you any less uncomfortable.  You’re allowed to say no, remember that.  “Hey, good to see you!  Let’s just fist bump, ok?”  If they ask why you don’t want to hug them, a simple, “I don’t do hugs,” should suffice.  Being honest and positive about your boundaries are usually all that is required.

But what if they refuse to listen?  Sometimes people do not get the hint, in that case, you may have to be more assertive.  It is also possible that you may have to involve a mediator or third party to assist you, especially in the workplace.  Remember, the problem is not with you, it is with them.  They are not respecting your boundaries that you have set.  You have asked them kindly to do so and they have ignored your request.  Be consistent.  Is it difficult?  Yes, sometimes.  Is it necessary?  Yes, always.  Boundaries are about the safety and balance of an individual.  They deserve respect!

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries with those around you!  It’s a healthy practice that will leave you happier AND healthier.  Be consistent and honest and know that what you are doing is what is best for you.  Who knows, you may actually be setting an example for others to follow suit.  Look at you being a pioneer…

 

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