Boundaries: A Simple Guide

How to tell if your boundaries have been crossed:

  • You’re not comfortable with the situation.

e.g. A friend calls at 7pm and asks if they can come over for dinner. This causes you to feel uncomfortable emotionally and physically.

How to find what your boundaries are:

  • Ask yourself what you are comfortable with.

e.g. What if they didn’t come over tonight but we just spoke on the phone? Not comfortable with that either? Okay, how about if we just text tonight, and we catch up on the weekend? Perfect.

How to put your boundaries in place:

  • Tell the other person what you are not comfortable with (and maybe what you are comfortable with).

e.g. “Hey friend, thanks for the invitation! I don’t really feel like company tonight, but I don’t mind texting if you’d like to chat. Do you want to catch up this weekend?”

How to put your boundaries more firmly in place:

  • If the other person does not honour your boundaries, it is an opportunity for you to flex your boundary-placing muscles and get a little better at insisting your boundaries are respected.

e.g. Friend says “Can’t I just come over? I want to see you.”
You might say: “Hi friend, I still do not want company tonight. I like you and would like to spend time with you, however I am not willing to do so right now. If you are in need of company, perhaps there is someone else you can ask.”

  • This might go on for some time, because some people are not very well-practiced at respecting other people’s boundaries.
  • If all your attempts to enforce boundaries are ignored or violated, it is recommended you cut that person out of your life, because they are an asshat and you deserve better.
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PD through PD

Personal Discovery through Professional Development.

I spent way longer on that title than I wanted to.

 

I’ve done a lot of learning and growing in recent times. My work has taught me so many things that I probably would never have learned otherwise, and it’s kind of hard for me to keep track of it all. Every tiny nugget of wisdom changes who I am and the way I move through the world, and week after week, month after month, all those learnings are adding up to something quite spectacular. I feel like my heart is growing, and I can care more easily and more deeply. I’m also learning a great deal about not caring too much, and knowing where I end and another begins.

 

That’s why I sat down at my computer this morning and started reading about burnout. I’ve noticed in the past few weeks in particular, my patience has been at an all-time low.

Working in mental health, sometimes the people that I support seem (to me) to be “stuck”: they’re in pain, and they don’t want to do anything to change their circumstances. As someone who loves to rescue people, it’s been challenging for me checking my inner-white-knight and being with people where they are. I’ve felt a lot of frustration and, in the case of one person, two years of it built up week by week until I finally realised I couldn’t hold onto it any more and I had to share it. My manager and I sat with the person and I let some of those emotions out from behind the dam and it was cathartic. I realised that my frustration was actually concern, and that all I wanted was the best for the person and I was worried about them.

 

Since then, I’ve found it really hard to keep my frustration removed from my client interactions. I’m really struggling to sit with people where they’re at because I want so badly for their lives to be different. And that’s an interesting one that I’m still working through: How can I still care about the people I work with, without caring so much that it drains my cup? The solution, I think, are boundaries: in a nutshell, being okay with not taking on other people’s stuff.

 

I find it amazing that three weeks I was noticing these experiences and I didn’t really take any heed of them. Looking at them in hindsight, they are increasingly alarming signs that I was heading towards burnout. I’m grateful that it was brought to my attention seriously, so that I can give it the serious attention it merits. I’m more aware now of what I’m feeling relating to work: what feels good, and what feels draining. As my awareness grows, I’m more informed about the decisions I make: what boundaries to set down, and how I want to work in a way that is sustainable and joyful. I want to value self-care more (which, even as I write it I’m thinking “I don’t have time for that, my black belt grading is coming up, I’ll self care in two weeks from now”) and be okay with letting myself rest and heal more often. I want to continue developing methods of decompressing between appointments and after work, maybe seriously get back into meditation and reconnect with that well of inner peace within me.

 

I don’t really know where I’m going with any of this. I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, and the cobwebs of nightmares still cling to me. I guess I just wanted to say, to myself and the world, that I value my wellbeing, and that I’m continuing to work through stuff. I am continuing to seek that balance between growing and resting, and I’m getting better at it all the time.