We hear the word, “boundaries” thrown around a lot, but many people lack a clear picture of what they really are, or at least why they are important.
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In this episode we dive deep into the topic of boundaries, which are key for healthy relationships. Healthy relationships have a balance of both togetherness and separateness. Boundaries really just define the lines that set us apart from those in our lives. And this is an important part of making empowered choices, both when it comes to our personal growth and daily activities as well as those choices we might make with another person.
Something that may surprise people… Boundaries are a measure of self-worth. Our self-worth has everything to do with the way that we value ourselves. And, if we have a high self-worth, if we really value ourselves, that value is NOT contingent on the feelings others have towards us. As we value ourselves less, our self-worth diminishes, and we place a much higher value on another person’s feelings toward us. We can see this play out in our values in really five different ways:
- Intellectual Worth and Boundaries: I am entitled to my thoughts and opinions just as you are entitled to yours.
- Emotional worth and boundaries: You are entitled to your own feelings to a given situation, as are others.
- Physical worth and boundaries: You are entitled to your space, however wide it may be, as are others.
- Social worth and boundaries: You are entitled to your own friends and to pursuing your own social activities, as are others.
- Spiritual worth and boundaries: You are entitled to your own spiritual beliefs, as are others.
When you break it down into these five areas, it’s really easy to see where boundaries get violated as well as where they get drawn. It’s also much more clear as to what a toxic relationship, with both yourself and others, may look like.
When we talk about toxic relationships, this is often difficult to define. Toxic relationships are marked by a lack of personal boundaries or the inability to maintain those boundaries set. Healthy relationships have a balance of both togetherness and separateness. Boundaries really just define the lines that set us apart from those in our lives. This is an important part of making empowered choices, both when it comes to our personal growth and daily activities, as well as those choices we might make with another person.
We can start by creating limits on acceptable behavior from yourself as well as those around you. A healthy life is marked by good boundaries. This is because we have to create healthy boundaries in our relationships with ourselves.
Just as you would never tell your best friend she was worthless or ugly, this is a limit I encourage you to set for yourself. The feeling of discomfort when you’ve spent way over your budget… The discomfort is a signal that you’ve crossed a personal boundary. These are healthy guidelines and limits that we set for ourselves because we have established that we have self-respect and limits to our behaviors in the relationship we have with ourselves.
Three Parts to Setting Healthy Boundaries
First, have a clear understanding of what your limits are. For this it’s important to have clarity on what your values and commitments are.
Our limits are really an extension of our values and commitments. For example, one of my boundaries with my children is that they are not allowed to use my bathroom. I value time alone, and that became a pretty big issue when I became a mom. I set this physical boundary that has a big emotional impact for me. I know that I need a space that is mine because I need a break from the outside world, including my beloved kiddos.
Another boundary for me is with my co-workers. I know my tendency to be a people pleaser. I was brought up in the Midwest, and still live here today. There was no higher compliment to pay someone than to say, ”She would give you the shirt off her back,” and I know for me, I probably would. The problem came when I was fulfilling the needs of everyone, even the people at work that weren’t particularly significant in my life. I had to start saying the word, “No” to the people in my workplace. I was able to start doing this by delegating more of the duties that were simply not mine to complete, but had fallen to me because I was simply too “nice.”
Second, it is not enough to know where your limits are. You also have to communicate and maintain those limits effectively. Knowing our boundaries and setting them are two very different hurdles to overcome.
Setting boundaries does not always come easily. It’s often a skill that needs to be learned. As renowned psychologist Albert Bandura noted, much of human social learning comes from modeling behavior, so if we do not have adequate role models whose behavior we can encode through observation and later imitate, we are at a loss, often left fumbling and frustrated.
Finally, we have to come to the understanding of why this is important. I think this is the perfect phrase to define what boundaries really mean. It is ”knowing where you end and I begin.” It is that sense that there is a separateness that makes you, you, and me, me, and that if we blurr those lines of separation, we both end up unhappy and unhealthy.
In the next episode we will be giving you the exact steps you can take to effectively implement boundaries into your life and relationships… Boundaries that can empower you to start moving through the world with more confidence, joy, peace, and freedom!
-Stephanie Hamilton Aguilar, Vegan Life Coach Academy, Master Mindset Coach
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