I haven’t always been good at setting boundaries. In fact, as a young wife, I didn’t have boundaries at all. I didn’t know myself well enough to even know what I wanted or needed. Not knowing myself kept me from being able to advocate for my needs.
When I became a mom, I began the practice of setting boundaries for my kids. I saw how the structure helped them and me. During those early years of motherhood, the days were long. I needed stamina, endurance, and patience by the bucket full. Setting healthy boundaries for my children paved the way to structure, routines, and rituals. These practices saved me, especially on the hectic days when squeezing in a shower seemed nearly impossible.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
Advocate for your wants and needs.
Until you know who you are and what you need, there is no way to set boundaries. A great way to get to know yourself is through journaling. I’ve included a few journaling prompts below to help you get started.
Create your purpose.
The purpose behind your practice of setting boundaries is just as important as the practice itself. Your purpose is intimately related to your needs. For example, if you know that being in nature helps you relieve stress and feel better, a boundary might be carving out time for you to get outside on a regular basis. The purpose is for you to let go of stress and feel better.
Be consistent, regardless of conditions.
Boundaries are less about rules and more about consistency. Consistency is something that is possible even in the most unpredictable circumstances. The idea of setting boundaries is great in theory. The reality is, life happens. And life happens EVERY SINGLE DAY. If you wait for conditions to be perfect to practice setting boundaries, it will never happen. Let me say that again. If you wait for conditions to be perfect to practice setting boundaries, it will never happen. The only way to practice is to jump in and begin. When life happens and your boundaries are tested, remember your purpose and be consistent. You’ve got this!
Practice saying no.
Saying no is the only way to be consistent. Opportunities to help a friend, attend an event, join a ZOOM call, volunteer for a project will all creep up to test your practice. When you say yes to all of the things, you are saying no to your wants and needs. Boundaries allow you to say yes to yourself. When you practice saying yes to yourself first, you then have the freedom to say no to the things that don’t support your purpose.
- Describe your perfect day from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. Are you an early riser or late sleeper? Your perfect day should suit your natural rhythm. Use as much details as you can to describe where you are, what you see, the people who are with you (if any), pets, sounds, scents, and what you are doing.
- When you feel stressed, what are the things that help you feel better? Make a list of all the things you like to do to relieve stress. Add detail where possible.
- What brings you joy?
- Make a list of all your talents and gifts. Yes, you ARE gifted and talented. If you aren’t able to identify your gifts, ask a friend, partner, or family member that you have a good relationship with. Write down the words they use to describe you. Spend time reflecting on their words, and begin to explore your gifts and talents. Journal about your journey as you discover your gifts and talents.
- Describe a relationship in your life where you can practice setting boundaries. What are your boundaries? How do they support your wants and needs?