"Boundaries are the greatest form of compassion" Brene Brown
If you are a people pleaser, view yourself as kind, nice or tend to rescue others (hello, Past Me!) setting boundaries doesn't feel compassionate in the slightest. It feels harsh, telling people you can't help them or won't be there. Trying to set boundaries when you are stuck in rescuing or pleasing mode can feel draining. It's soooo much easier just to say yes.
When this week bought me a very stark reminder reminder about boundaries, I still felt a flutter of the old anxiety about how it would be received, how it made me look, an edge of guilt around letting someone down. I acknowledged these feelings, and also the unwavering necessity of my own integrity, of claiming my power and taking care of myself.
I allowed myself to feel, and gave myself permission to uphold my truth. On the other side (boundaries done!) I felt calm, relieved, empowered. I felt better about myself as a human too, because I'd shown myself the respect I deserved and it felt amazing to really step into that.
You only get what you allow in your life. This applies to everything from toxic people to being overburdened at work. The power to set boundaries is something we can all claim. Being "nice" can often mean living in discomfort so someone else doesn't have to. Actually, being truly "nice" means being true to myself, so that others know where they stand and also have the choice about how they operate within that. It means that when I show up to something, or help someone out, they know I really genuinely want to. That's why boundaries = compassion.
To not have boundaries often means:
Saying 'yes' when you don't really mean it, and then letting someone down, or worse, doing something not from the heart (you are not really giving if you give this way)
Finding yourself exhausted by demands, people, life with no space for yourself
A lack of self respect, as you sense you have let yourself down
Never quite being 'enough' - the more you give the more is expected of you
Passively allowing life to happen to you, lacking autonomy
Remember, we are never responsible for other people's behaviour, or their responses to us. You can absolutely set boundaries with love and kindness, in fact, this is the general motivator to work from, starting with yourself.
"The way people treat you reveals the type of relationship they have with themselves. Don't carry people's flaws around like they are your own" Anon.
Unsurprisingly, boundaries usually pop up somewhere in a client's journey. It's a common factor because once you start to seek change and empowerment in your life, you start to really notice where not having boundaries is holding you back. And we do a bunch of fun stuff really delving into boundaries, aligned with their values and what is really true and meaningful for them.
Aaaaaannd guess what, once you are in full ownership of your choices, your life begins to play out as YOU want it to.
And it is a choice, sit on the fence, keep being "nice", stay quiet, or get supported to really move into the life you deserve. That's why boundaries are such an important part of the picture, you cannot operate optimally when others are making choices for you!
Each boundary you set really does improve your relationship with yourself. Calmer, freer, happier. It also improves your relationship with others, you are giving from a place of genuine wholeness and desire that isn't possible if you are coming from a place of guilt and obligation.
Boundaries not only equal compassion, they equal freedom, perhaps one of the most valuable life-force assets there is. And if you're not sure where to start, get in touch. I will very happily talk about my journey from people pleaser to boundary queen! Maybe there will be something in that that helps you.