The Importance Of Setting Personal Boundaries
I saw a quote on Instagram this morning that reminded me of the importance of setting personal boundaries. The quote said “When you put a boundary down, be prepared to repeat it”.
The truth of this statement is far greater than most of us realise. I would even go so far as to say, that lacking boundaries has been the number one contributing factor in all of the misery and heartache I have suffered in my life.
I’ve lacked boundaries in all of my relationships at one point or another: in friendships, romantic relationships, with family, and most detrimentally, in the relationship I had with myself. I guess you could say I lacked self-worth.
It took me a long time to figure out why the same pattern kept repeating itself, over and over. I’d go out of my way for someone, give them my all, and then they would use and abuse me. I believed that if I gave them my all, they would in turn feel compelled to value me and give the same.
For years I felt like the victim who was repeatedly wronged. It never occurred to me until a few years ago: it was me who was the common denominator, and my lack of self-worth was the cause of me not implementing personal boundaries, for myself and others, to adhere to.
I was raised to always put others first and myself last, and when I started trying to put myself first, I felt a tremendous guilt. In fact, at times I do still feel this guilt, but I’m getting better at forcing myself to rise above it and put myself first regardless.
By putting myself first I don’t mean that I’ve become a selfish arsehole, but rather, I’ve made a promise to choose my personal boundaries over self-destructive behaviours.
I’ve been learning to speak my mind in an assertive way; in the past I’ve struggled with this a great deal. I was either really aggressive or completely silent (which turned into passive aggression), and neither way was a healthy approach to the situation.
I’ve now learnt to calmly and assertively say no, or, I don’t agree with you, or, stop, I’m not accepting this behaviour. I’ve also learnt that it’s perfectly okay to cut people from my life that are not having a positive influence on me emotionally.
This is an area I’ve found particularly challenging, but also the most rewarding. People come in to our lives for a reason, and sometimes they need to leave for an even better reason.
I’ve worked on cutting unhealthy ties a lot this year, and I’ve done so unapologetically. Some have been a depressive and emotionally draining influence, some have taken advantage of my (emotionally) giving nature, or didn’t respect my personal boundaries. Others just haven’t been on my wave length, which in turn, has made me fixate on the annoyance of polarity in differences.
In the past I would have agonisingly endured these unhealthy relationships – put myself last, because the guilt from upsetting them overpowered my self-respect.
I’m sure that some of these people are upset and don’t understand why they’ve been dismissed from my life, but their upset is not for me to concern myself with – not when it would be at the expense of my personal boundaries and self-respect.
At the end of the day, it’s ourselves that we have to live with. So, why wouldn’t we or shouldn’t we put number one first? If we don’t, who else is going to?