I was raised to be nice and polite. Supportive. Giving. Compassionate.
I also remember a rhyme growing up that went like this:
I learned that girls who were interested in sex and pleasure were bad. Bad girls. And I didn’t want to be bad, I wanted to be good.
I learned that pleasure in any form really was bad.
I learned to be a good girl. To keep my legs crossed. To not eat too much. To say yes to helping others even when I was exhausted. To say yes to unwanted hugs.
I abandoned my boundaries and my own feeling good to the point that I didn’t even know what my boundaries were. I didn’t even know what I wanted and what I didn’t want.
Luckily through years of therapy and healing work, I’ve been able to build them back up and create more pleasure in my life.
Here’s how you can reignite your boundaries.
Step 1: Let Yourself Hate
When you’re starting to figure out what your boundaries are, it’s important to let yourself hate: to let yourself hate any and everything. Hate things that are petty. Hate things that are real deep injustices.
Set a timer for 5 minutes and let yourself write down all the things you hate!
Step 2: Build an Energetic Boundary
If you’ve learned to be nice and a “good girl”, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO LIKE THIS STEP.
You’re going to think it’s stupid or petty or ridiculous and that there must be an easier way. And I hear you. Honestly there are some days I 100% agree with you and say, “I’m not doing that.”
But I wanted to share this because IT ACTUALLY REALLY WORKS.
So now that you’ve got the hate flowing from the writing exercise: say no, squeeze your hands into fists and stomp your feet. Do this for 30 seconds as intensely as you can. This will start to create a big energetic boundary that you can tap into the next time you’re in an unhealthy situation.
If you’re nervous, simply squeeze your hands into fists for 20 seconds and then release. That’ll start building your energetic boundary :). And if you’re feeling more confident you can stomp and growl and hiss and really move that energy.
Now I know this might sound woo woo, but you’re starting to build a FIERCE energy that will protect you when folks try to convince you to do something that’s not right for you.
Step 3: Create Consequences
Simply saying “This is my boundary.” is not enough. When you set boundaries, you need to have a consequence that’s connected to them. I learned this from Brooke Castillo, Master Certified Life Coach.
If you don’t have a consequence, if someone crosses your boundary, there’s no action you can take and so the boundary isn’t very strong.
For example if you say to your mom, “I’m not okay with you dropping by my house unannounced.” And your mom shows up and then you invite her in and make her tea, that’s not a very effective boundary.
So in this example an effective boundary with a consequence could be, “I’m not okay with you dropping by my house unannounced. If you drop by unannounced, I’ll lock the door and I won’t invite you in.”
And then as long as you follow through, this will create effective boundaries that WORK. Other examples of consequences could include:
“If you comment on my weight, I’ll hang up the phone.”
“If you comment on my weight, I’ll leave the room.”
“If you say that to my child, we’re leaving.”
And when you have a clear consequence that keeps you safe, you don’t have to get angry or upset because you know that you’ll protect yourself, that you’ll have your own back and protect you energy.
Now I know these steps are hard and uncomfortable and I want to reiterate “The only people who get upset about you setting boundaries are the ones who were benefiting from you having none.”
It’s not going to be easy. It’s like going to the gym, you’re going to have to practice and lift weights and sometimes you’re going to do it wrong but eventually in time it’ll get easier.
And the payoff is totally worth it. Imagine having more energy for you, more energy for relaxing, more energy for pleasure and more energy to help all the people you love helping!
So, YES, it’s hard!
But you can do it. You can take the first steps and begin to build healthier boundaries today.
And if you have questions or need help, hit “Reply” and I’ll be happy to help you navigate creating healthier boundaries,