Building Boundaries

“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.” – Mandy Hale

Pinecone on the ground

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during quarantine, it’s that setting boundaries is hard no matter how many times you do it. You might get better at it, but each time feels just as challenging as the last. That’s because setting boundaries means drawing a line between you and something or someone that’s taking advantage of you or benefitting from your time more than they’re welcome.

Setting boundaries is tough and uncomfortable. Every time I’ve had to do it, it’s felt exactly that way, but it gets easier with practice. Boundaries are important because they create necessary space between you and something/someone. The easy example is always technology. Creating a boundary with your phone, for instance, is crucial to ensuring you can still get adequate sleep at night. Rather than spending all night mindlessly scrolling on your phone, you can set a boundary by turning on Do Not Disturb at 9 p.m. nightly.

Setting boundaries with people is a bigger discussion because they are so many different examples and experiences. For instance, some people deal with incredibly toxic relationships in their lives, and those boundaries can be the most difficult to set. There is usually a lot of manipulation involved, and it’s a lot of work to set boundaries in these situations. Setting them protects your mental, emotional, and physical health though.

Most of the challenge stems from people who have been benefitting from a lack of boundaries. For most of my life, I didn’t understand boundaries (not because I couldn’t comprehend what they were, but because I never knew how or why to set them). People benefitted from my lack of boundaries for years and it allowed a lot of toxic relationships to flourish. Throughout my twenties, as I started to learn more about myself and boundaries, I realized that it wasn’t my responsibility to take on other people’s responsibilities or burdens.

Often times, I found myself feeling guilty or like I had to dull my own light. I was always told who I was supposed to be, what I was supposed to do, and how I was supposed to act. It was so disheartening and has taken a lot of education, time, and therapy to reverse. I felt insecure most of my life and had a lot of family drama that taught me how to stand up for myself. It also taught me one of the greatest lessons of all: when to stop fighting. Sometimes other people just won’t hear you. It doesn’t matter how many different ways you say something or how loud you scream it. Some people cannot hear your side of the story because they are too focused on their pain to understand someone else’s.

It makes me sad for them, but I’m also never going to let them walk over me again. I’m never going to let them make me feel like my feelings aren’t valid. No one has any right to tell you how you should feel. When you set the boundary, which is sometimes just as simple as physical distance, you create space for yourself to grow. You give yourself a gift because boundaries allow you focus on the right to have your own feelings and create your own happiness.

At the end of the day, boundaries are a form of self-respect. When you set them, the person who has taken advantage of you will not always have a positive reaction. In my experience, they usually blow up and try to manipulate you into thinking you’re wrong for doing it. Don’t let other people define your boundaries. It’s up to you to set them and decide what’s right for your emotional, mental, and physical health.

During quarantine, boundary-setting has been crucial to my routine because it was so easy to take advantage of snoozing in the mornings, using technology more frequently, and even snacking more frequently due to the proximity of the kitchen. Setting boundaries with myself helped me create a healthy morning routine where I snooze less frequently, workout in the mornings, create time and space for myself to do the things I love, pay attention to hunger cues, and incorporate more self-care.

There are so many opportunities for us to flourish without toxic relationships. Boundary setting is hard, but it’s worth it. Whether you’re setting a boundary with your cell phone, a family member, or friend, setting boundaries is a sign of strength. It improves quality of life and reminds you of the things you deserve. And trust me, you deserve it. ✨

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