Words By Mae

content creator / mental health advocate / friend

Boundaries: What They Are & How To Set Them

Last week I talked about boundaries.

And while I’m glad I opened up and shared, I didn’t even consider — what if my reader doesn’t know much about boundaries? What if they don’t even know what they are?

If you aren’t familiar with boundaries, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. One of my very first therapy sessions, my therapist asked me “Do you have any boundaries with others?” And I asked her to give me a definition. After learning what they were, I actually laughed out loud, and said, “Oh yeah, I don’t have those.” It was probably in that moment my therapist realized just how much we had to work on.

Boundaries are important.

When I searched good ole Google for emotional boundaries, here’s what popped up: “Emotional boundaries protect your right to have your own feelings and thoughts, to not have your feelings criticized or invalidated, and not have to take care of other people’s feelings.”

My life before boundaries was drastically different than it is today. I was overly involved with others’ emotions and well-beings, giving my very all to others while I neglected my own mental health.

Life before boundaries, I was definitely a W.O.O. girl — winning others over — doing my very best to people please my parents and peers and professors. I listened, I caved into people’s needs, I pursued others’ health over my own, I cared so much it physically and mentally hurt.

I still listen and care — just not to where it hurts.

I do my best to be a good friend, daughter, sister, gym director, Christian, and person. I do my best to be there for others and to love others deeply, to encourage them during dark days and celebrate in the sun.

But I don’t break my back for others anymore. I don’t go above and beyond and over the moon to make sure my brother/mother/friend is healthy and happy. I just do what I can when I can, and know that that is enough.

It ain’t easy.

Setting boundaries is outright tough.

Telling a friend, “I love you, but when you say and do ‘x’ it makes me feel ‘y’” can be uncomfortable, maybe even painful. But it’s important to communicate and to speak your peace.

A few examples of speaking your peace are:

  • “When you overshare on this matter, it makes me feel uncomfortable because it doesn’t seem to be my place.”
  • “When you ask me about my weight/relationships/marriage (insert topic here), I feel that you are not valuing who I am as a person.”
  • “Please respect when I ask to be alone, because I need the time to rest and recharge.”

Setting boundaries can be awkward and tough, but I’m always better for it. I’m always better knowing that I have chosen my health and well-being above being taken advantage of or manipulated or misled.

If you struggle with setting boundaries or even knowing what they are, I encourage you to examine your relationships and determine if anything or anyone is draining you, if something just doesn’t feel right. Then ask yourself what’s wrong and what steps you need to take to move in the right direction.

It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it.

One response to “Boundaries: What They Are & How To Set Them”

  1. […] and well and stable, and while I’m emotionally facing a tough relationship, I’m setting boundaries and pursuing emotional health, […]

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