The Importance of Setting Boundaries

Most everyone knows about setting boundaries. But how effective are we in doing that?

Let’s take any day in our lives – family life  or work life

During the work week we get up and go through our morning routine – get kids to school – get to work.

Everyone in our lives needs and wants something from us and we usually react. 

I find myself spending a lot of energy and time on things which are easy to do at the moment but not really important. By the time I get to the essential things that have to be done on that day, I am emotionally drained. I realize I have spent too much energy on just reacting to my surroundings

Well – one might say – what choices do I have? It is a habit that needs to change.

We do have choices and it is always a good idea to reflect at the end of the day in terms of these choices. For example recently I was helping my daughter to take care of her baby while the other grandmother took a well deserved vacation. I was shocked to find that I fell right back into the same pattern I had when I was a mom! I was doing pretty good when I was by myself with the baby. Quickly we settled into a routine that worked well for us. Sometimes I had my other granddaughter with me as well. It was a wonderful experience! I enjoyed every minute of being with my grand kids.

The challenge came when I had to deal with the adults in the house (two families are living in the same house) and everyone had different expectations and ideas of how and when  anything should be done. After a while I realized I needed to set some boundaries. I wished I had done this from the beginning. I was not clear about my OWN needs and unconsciously expected that somehow I would find the time. When I finally had time, I was too tired.

We do this all too often and end up feeling frustrated that we can’t do it all–maybe even believe that we simply don’t have the time and energy in order to do what is important to us.

But in reality it is a matter about clarity of mind and establishing the appropriate boundaries. And then respect these boundaries ourselves and others will do the same. 

I wanted to set time aside to be able to continue with my writing. At least one uninterrupted hour a day when I was at my best. But alas that was not to be. I forgot to set boundaries and fell right back into my old habit of saying yes, when I should and could have said no. I allowed myself to get frustrated and overwhelmed at times. Blaming my surroundings, situations instead of setting clear boundaries.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

It was a good learning experience for me. Even though I enjoyed every moment with my family I did allow myself to get to the point where I had no energy or time for anything else. Since it lasted only a few weeks it did not really matter. But I could see this unhealthy pattern that caused some serious problems when I was raising our kids. 

I see so many people trying to cope with the everyday demands put on them. My hope is that we all can learn this very important skill. The problem is that we need to be a good mother, employee – and unconsciously think by doing more we will be a good parent, friend, employee  But we need to learn how to establish boundaries and realize that no one else can do that for us. 

Only I know what  is on my plate at any given moment. Yes even a baby will get used to being by himself for short periods and be happy! A toddler doesn’t need to be entertained all the time. It is alright for them to be bored at times! They will treasure their time with the parent or grandparents more if they are not constantently available.

Our Boss will respect us more if we can let him know without getting upset when and if something can or cannot be done. It always comes down to ourselves setting this boundaries in our minds and knowing what we can do without getting exhausted at the end of the day and not have enough energy left for the most important part of our life – enjoying ourselves! Whether it is time with family, friends, a hobby. It is more important than ever before that we make a conscious effort to create this balance in our lives. It usually is us who have the most difficulty to set and keep  these boundaries.

It may seem impossible at first but if we keep going we will be amazed at the quality of our lifes. Then we will look like one of these people we always admired — who seem to have it all together and life seems easy for them.

It is also important to sit down with the important people in our life and set boundaries together. To come to a better understanding about each other’s needs.For many of us it is more difficult to say NO than to say YES. We have been so conditioned that in order to be a good parent, husband or wife, employee we have to say yes. In order to be liked we don’t want to bother or upset anybody. 

Now that I am retired I finally was able to change that. Now I am eating regular simple meals and enjoy them. No wonder we have problems with abuse, whether it is alcohol, drugs, food, etc. — We are abusing ourselves and allow others to abuse us! Again no one else can set these boundaries for us. No one else can know our particular situation. We have to find or develop that internal locus of control.

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