Saying No to Others to Say Yes to Yourself: Boundary Setting
Learning to honour yourself and your needs is like swimming against a riptide in a society that glorifies burnout culture.
The society we live in today values what we can give to others over what we can give to ourselves.
The rise of 'hustle culture' and subsequent 'burnout culture' squeezes the life out of us. The ways in which we allow ourselves to be stretched out by the stresses of life is objectively excessive.
The maintenance of our mental health and having strong internal boundaries has never been more essential than it is today.
Despite the rise in individualism, we have been conditioned to give to others until we run out, to see boundaries, self-care and emotional self-provision activities as 'selfish'.
But setting boundaries is an act of self love and self respect which indicates to others where you begin and where you end, and can be a useful tool in combating burnout culture.
Boundaries can be described as something that describes a fixed limit or extent. In our interpersonal lives, boundaries allow us to indicate what we want for ourselves, what we will allow and what we will not.
Boundaries are an important tool in maintaining our mental wellbeing as it allows for us to indicate how much we will take on in all spheres of our life. They also come in handy to prevent people or things, like jobs, from taking advantage of us.
Boundaries are essential for a balanced mental state.
Although they can be intimidating to set, knowing helpful pointers and tips makes this practice easier to grasp. This process is something to grow into and requires self-compassion and self awareness.
It will get better (and easier) over time.
The first step in setting boundaries is to know our limits. This requires us to ask ourselves what we want to take on and experience and what we do not. Honesty and self awareness form the basis of this step and so the foundation needs to be integrally strong. A good indicator to use are feelings of discomfort and resentment. These feelings show us where we are going beyond what we need to and are signals to reel back in. Pay attention to the things that create these feelings and see where the root lies.
Knowing our limits means knowing our why. The reasoning behind our boundaries, informs the consequence of the potential disrespect. Knowing our reason why is also important in being assertive with our boundaries, which is the next tip to consider.
More likely than never, there will be pushback on your communicated boundary and so it is important to be prepared for this. Being assertive and having a mental plan of action for what happens when the response to set boundaries is less than rosy is important and gets easier to enforce with time.
It’s also very important to be self compassionate throughout this process, especially if setting a boundary is new to you.
Self compassion allows for the perfection of the practice of putting yourself first and is an integral part of mastering self care. True self care is putting yourself first, and in your attempts, it’s essential to understand that some progress is better than none.
Self compassion allows for growth in being assertive, and paves the way for better communication and ease in setting future boundaries.
Being direct in the communication of your boundaries compounds the idea of assertiveness.
When stating your boundary, there are various outcomes that may occur. Acceptance and pushback are common responses, and pushback indicates that the relationship you have with the person or thing needs to be reviewed for how much it takes and gives to you to evaluate it’s worth in your life.
Direct communication in this sense speaks to being transparent, honest and open when we communicate the boundary, whilst being assertive where needed.
Seek support. Setting boundaries can be difficult to grasp and can be easier to learn with community help. Surround yourself with support that will hold you accountable and help you with your boundary setting. It is not something that has to be figured out alone and having support at your side can assist tremendously throughout the process of setting boundaries as well as the journey to having healthy boundaries
The chaos of saying yes to everyone and everything is a huge contributor to burnout culture.
Poor boundaries allow for people, jobs and things to take advantage of what you have to offer and having no boundaries at all can be dangerous. It’s really important to have boundaries with and for ourselves as it is to have boundaries with and for others.
When we fail to realise and implement boundaries, we take on too much and it becomes harder to regulate and understand our feelings, resentment may arise in relationships and our self image can shift.
Overall, the core of self care is truly putting yourself first.
Overextending yourself and taking on extra stress and resentment is the leading contributor to the burnout culture that society functions on, in both work and relationships.
Setting boundaries is a direct combative to this culture and a practice to help with balanced mental wellness. They allow us to grow comfortably and experience a better quality of life.
Readings and references for this article