The 1 step plan to putting yourself 1st
From Rowena Hardy, Minds Aligned
Looking back at my early life, I see now that I didn’t have a clear sense of my boundaries. It took me a while to realise this, and it has become clearer as I have developed and been working with others. What I have come to understand is that many people are unaware of their personal boundaries because, like many things that influence behaviour, they are established early on in our unconscious.
What are boundaries?
They could be described as “the physical, emotional and mental limits you establish to protect yourself from being manipulated, used, or violated by others allowing you to separate who you are, and what you think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others”.
They are an important part of who you are, as they indicate your level of self-respect and self-worth and are communicated to others in verbal and non-verbal, conscious and unconscious ways. They have a bearing on all of your relationships, not just with others but also with yourself.
Having said that, how do you recognise and establish healthy boundaries?
Whatever behaviour was demonstrated around you growing up is likely to have influenced your level of respect and belief in yourself, given you an understanding of boundaries and defined the behaviours that were acceptable and those that weren’t.
As you might imagine, this could go well, badly or somewhere in between depending on the role models you had as a reference point but it is up you to take responsibility for and control how others treat you and that starts with establishing a strong identity i.e. finding out who you really are.
So if you’ve been used to seeing someone who puts everyone else’s needs before theirs, then that’s likely to be how you go about things now. It’s not purely a female trait and it’s important to acknowledge that your needs and feelings are just as important as those of others. But when you constantly put yourself last and never allow time for yourself, it becomes exhausting and you may become resentful and disengage. That approach is unhealthy for you and others and those with weak boundaries are more likely to violate the boundaries of others.
Rather than have your self-esteem dictated by others, it is necessary to explore and accept who you are and identify and establish new physical and emotional boundaries. Doing that will improve confidence and self-worth and give you the ability to let others know when they’ve crossed the line, acted inappropriately or disregarded you. And that will help you build healthy relationships based on trust and respect.
When was the last time you checked your boundaries?