A Conversation About Boundaries
This isn’t quite a natural-living post today, but boundaries seem to be a common struggle in the world of vegans, empaths and sensitive people who choose the natural lifestyle in part as a means of quieting their lives and coming to a space of mindfulness. (I recognize that’s not why all of us choose this lifestyle, but I’d venture to say it’s a vast majority!) I’m with you in that, and something I think more sensitive people like us have a hard time with is setting boundaries.
Setting a boundary might feel mean or impolite, but it can actually be done from a place of love.
Never setting boundaries leads to toxic relationships, bitterness, resentment, exhaustion, overwhelm, frustration, and a massive feeling of being stuck or moving in circles in your life. It leads to being passive-aggressive without even meaning to, and bottling up a whole lot of frustration that was perfectly valid the moment you felt it, but looks a little crazy when it all explodes months or even years later.
If you’re someone who genuinely loves to give and be of service, but you’re feeling exhausted and any sort of resentment, you probably haven’t been setting fair boundaries with yourself or others.
That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Being aware of it is powerful because that’s where you get the opportunity to change.
So let’s talk about setting boundaries from a space of love…
To set boundaries from a space of love, for me really just helps resolve that feeling of it being unkind or impolite to draw a line. I know that when I’m at my best, I’m able to be my best for everyone I encounter, from loved ones to strangers at the grocery store. That means it’s not unkind to be selfish with my time and energy, for the sake of empowering myself.
So if I set a boundary that I want to always have the first bowl of icecream, no matter what, yeah that could be kinda rude right? Setting boundaries purely for the sake of being on top or for status isn’t what we’re talking about here though.
Instead, look at setting boundaries with your time and energy from a perspective of not only what you need, but what you need in order to THRIVE.
If you need to not check your messages for a few minutes after you wake up, or you need a few moments of quiet before starting your day with your partner, that is a perfectly reasonable and mindful boundary to set. Absolutely, because you’re going to be all the better for it. By not showing up for those 15 minutes, you’re going to be in a better mindset when you do show up and you’re going to be more present and attentive with your partner.
If you have a friend who constantly messages you or calls you to complain about her problems without actually wanting your help, or even considering if you might be busy or have your own problems, that’s an opportunity to set a loving boundary. Especially if these calls have been bothering you, you deserve to draw the line and love yourself enough to stop accepting that situation. It is not cruel, unkind, or even impolite to simply say, “I care about you, but I am not available for this conversation right now.” or if you want to talk about it, “we can talk about this, but right now I need some time to myself. How about we get together next weekend to talk?”
Sometimes the person on the other side of the boundary might be hurt, but ultimately how they feel is not in your control.
That’s a boundary you need to start setting with yourSELF, realizing when you’re not in control and what you are responsible for vs what is not your job or your business. If someone is hurt by you setting a healthy boundary, they are capable of reaching out and discussing it with you. There’s no reason you should feel guilty though, you are just as deserving of space and time and love and kindness and consideration as anyone else.
Do you think Beyonce let’s everyone have everything they want from her?
She doesn’t, right? And nobody is judging her for owning her time, her space, and the fact that this is her one single lifetime to live. She gets to spend that how she chooses, and that’s not up to anyone but her.
You are just as human as Beyonce, so why would you deserve any less?
Privacy, space, boundaries, it’s all a basic right. So whether someone is poking fun at your vegan lifestyle repeatedly and you’ve been quietly stewing over it, or someone is constantly bringing their negativity into your space while you’re working to build this positive and mindful life, or you just need a little more space in a beautiful loving relationship, today is your day to start speaking up. It’ll be uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth it. Remember that when you are at your best, you show up with so much more impact. You’re only responsible for filling your own cup. If you choose to help fill others that’s beautiful, and actually something that happens naturally as your cup is filled to overflowing, but filling someone else’s cup should never be an expectation placed on you. It should be a conscious choice.
Next time you’re feeling pushed aside, unappreciated, or seriously irritated by someone, ask yourself if there’s a boundary that needs to be set.
Setting boundaries isn’t black-and-white. There’s room for conversation and a whole lot of love. The more mindful you are with your time, space, and energy, and the more you practice, the easier setting boundaries will be.
Steps for setting a boundary
Here are some basic steps to help get you started.
When setting a boundary, consider:
Is this something that interrupts the flow of energy and joy in your life?
Is this someone you love and care for? Or will you see this person again?
Is this situation a pattern in your life? (If so, in what way is this a pattern? Knowing this will help you with step 1 below)
If you answer yes to at least two of those questions, it’s probably time for a solid boundary.
To set a boundary:
Clarify your goal with the boundary. What do you want to change?
Take responsibility for your own part of it. (This doesn’t have to be part of the conversation unless you want it to be, but it’s important to understand that you contributed to the boundary being crossed in the first place, because you didn’t set this boundary or enforce it. Own that, with kindness, so that you’re not accidentally blaming them for the situation. Boundaries are not the same as blame.)
Decide on the best way to set the boundary. Will you talk with your roommate directly? Will you choose not to take the friend’s phone call, and instead respond with a text that you’re not available to talk right now and that you’ll get back to them? (Remember that setting a boundary is a perfectly normal action to take and it’s not going to be the end of the world. If you’re weirdly apologetic, people might perceive that as you being shady. So simply know your purpose and state it. Be direct and shake off any guilt. You are worthy of boundaries. Remind yourself often until it’s not so scary.)
Take action. Follow your plan to set the boundary, and be sure to continue enforcing or reseting the boundary if the situation arises.
Reflect. After setting a boundary, give yourself some time so that it’s not sensitive territory anymore. I like a week or at least a couple days. Then reflect on how setting the boundary went. Note if it was easier than expected, if it felt passive aggressive and you want to be more direct in the future, if the boundary has dissolved and lines are still being crossed. Make adjustments next time you set a boundary. You’ll improve with practice and it’ll begin to feel like a loving, mindful practice as you get to know yourself and honor the importance and value of your time, energy, and space.
There you have it! You can do this, and you’re so worthy. I hope this has helped. <3