Louise Thompson: Know your boundaries
What are boundaries? It’s a question I am asked with cunning regularity. I agree, the word “boundaries” can sound like new-agey psychobabble and, for that reason, I think many people feel unsure about what they are, and how they can personally apply them to make their lives easier.
That’s a shame as boundaries are nothing to be intimidated by or confused about — they are something you can review and update at any time.
The first thing to know about boundaries is that they are just fencing. An internally defined fence that you use to keep good things in, and to keep bad things out. It’s literally that simple. They are just a series of psychological fences that you use to keep yourself safe.
Taking care of your boundaries is just the same as doing a little maintenance and taking care of the fence around your property. If it was full of holes or broken, you would want to get it sorted and repair the holes. If it was so high and impenetrable no one could ever get in and visit, you would want to take care of that too.
The second thing to know is that there are many different types of boundary, and that it’s likely that you already have many good and effective boundaries operating in your life. Of the five different types of boundary defined below there will be some where we may need work, and somewhere we are already pretty solid.
Working from where you are already doing well, means you come from a confident and strong foundation to tweak things where necessary. So, make today a day where you check in on the height and strength of your fences and determine where you are already strong.
Perhaps your time/commitment boundaries are really solid. You only say yes to the “hell, yes” stuff. You are relatively free of obligation. You give mostly from a place of abundance. Resentment is super-unusual for you. You fill your cup easily and often.
Maybe you have really good physical boundaries over who can touch you when/where. Or excellent physical boundaries with yourself over prioritised self-care, exercise and nutrition.
It might be that your mental boundaries are excellent. You are confident in your opinion. You speak up. You are comfortable to agree to disagree. You don’t get bullied mentally but are sure in yourself even if you go against the flow sometimes. You manage your thought processes consciously and deliberately.
Maybe emotionally your boundaries are strong. You don’t take responsibility for others’ happiness by people pleasing. You don’t make other people responsible for “making you happy” but take care of that yourself. You know where your emotional responsibilities start and end. You are compassionate but firm.
Perhaps your material/financial boundaries are in good shape. Your house is in order. Your finances are in order. You know where your money is going and you are relaxed about it. Your environment is clutter free and suits its purpose as well as uplifts you.
So, where are your boundaries good? Give yourself a score out of 10 for each of the 5 categories
Connecting to where your internal fences are well maintained and appropriate for this stage of your life creates a powerful confidence, and a useful awareness of the areas that could use a little updating or routine maintenance. Go check your fences today and schedule some upkeep if required.
Through her online Happiness programme “Wellbeing Warriors”, life coach Louise Thompson helps people unlock their happiest and healthiest life. Sign up at louisethompson.com and find more from Louise at bite.co.nz/wellbeing