Ever hear a company rep do or not do something because it goes against their policy. It could be as simple as asking you a ton of question to verify your identity when it’s obvious you’re the account holder. Or not allowing you to return an item because the window to return it has past by a day. Or even not serving breakfast because it is past 11. The policies protects the company and we accept it as laws that cannot be bent.
Well you need to develop policies for you life. Rules you live by that aren’t going to broken by others in your life. This is what we call boundaries. And the sooner you develop these boundaries the sooner you will begin to feel in control of your own life. The following are the top 10 boundaries you need to work on ASAP.
Do you pick up the phone whenever someone calls? Or agree to go out when you know you should be handling your own responsibilities? Stop doing that. Your time is valuable. You cannot always be at other’s disposal when they call upon you.
Sometime it is tough to not help others or spend time with others when you like them or care for them. The best way to prioritize your time is by managing your time. When you practice time management, you know exactly when you’re supposed to do what. If you are done with the day’s to-do list, then you have some free time to hang out with others. But if the schedule that YOU made does not allow you to do anything until you finish your assignment, then don’t you even dare check emails, texts or pick up the phone.
Having a schedule also let’s you tell others confidently that you aren’t accessible because you have priorities.
Often times, people will tell you that you are being too much when you decide to take precautions. But taking precaution is the necessary step to take right before you feel comfortable. You may look silly with a helmet or a life jacket, but you now feel more comfortable to get on a bike or in the water. Your date might think it’s weird that you keep updating your friends where you are throughout the date, but you don’t know your date well enough to feel comfortable.
Safety is an important boundary to develop for the very reason that many people try to cross it. Your partner may want to have sex without a condom. Your friends may want to go to a street that seems dangerous. Or anyone else encouraging you into situations that you’re unsure about is putting your safety at risk and you need to not let it happen.
The decision to decide where your money goes obviously is only yours and no one else’s. Then why are there so many people making demands of it? Because in a capitalist world it becomes human nature. You need to put a stop to it.
There are people that are either trying to sell you something or there are people that are guilting you into buying something for them. Unless a clear agreement on an exchange has been made, you don’t owe money to anyone. Nor do you need to buy them anything.
Furthermore, no one needs to know how much you make or have. It is your duty and right to protect your asset.
There are times when you get overwhelmed, sad, exhausted, disoriented, confused, tired or simply unable to focus. This is the mind’s way of telling you that you need a break. But for some reason you, or those around you, continue to push you.
If studying is burning you out, take a break. If your friend is too intense, take a break. If you’re getting frustrated building an IKEA furniture, take a break. And during that break do anything that you find calming. Be it taking a nap, eating ice cream or watching a tv show.
Even machines have a limit to how much they can perform before getting over heated. You too need a cool down period from the demands of everyday life.
Besides taking a break from mental exhaustion, the mental health boundary also refers to when you don’t want to talk about things that are distracting or triggering. Your parent may continue to say how no one loves them over and over again to guilt you. Or your friend may want to talk about their relationship while you are recovering from a break up. You are allowed to block them both. A lot of people bring up topics that are sensitive to us without any bad intentions. But if it drags us down, we have to put a stop to it.
This is boundary that covers more than what you may be thinking. But before we discuss them you must thank your body for hosting you for your entire life.
Boundaries for your body includes:
- deciding when others can touch you, hug you or show any other type of physical affection
- refusing to do labor that may take a toll on your body
- deciding if you want to have sex
- not feeling pressured to eating/drinking something because someone made it or bought it for you
- not letting it be harmed in any way
The quicker you develop boundaries for your body, the quicker you will begin to feel a sense of autonomy like never before.
Not everyone can be in your inner circle. Because it takes work to develop and maintain a relationship where you can become vulnerable.
You wouldn’t let someone take care of your kids if you haven’t done proper research on the babysitter. You won’t let a person you just met borrow your laptop. You will not give your personal information to someone that just called you up.
You are not gullible. So you will not overshare nor over trust. It isn’t about liking or not liking someone. It’s if the other person has been vetted enough by you to be trusted.
Trust cannot be given in an instant!
“I will do anything for those that I love,” is a nice thing to say. But you really shouldn’t. Because your loved one will test you. And it can get exhausting.
Suppose your roommate is a talented writer and editor are they obligated to take a quick look over your essay to make sure it sounds good? If your friend works at a local car servicing shop, do they have to change your oil because they are an expert? Absolutely not. There is not inherent obligation to perform a task because someone is close to you.
But even if you are not an expert and are simply not doing anything at all. Just watching TV with no plans for the weekend. You still don’t have to help someone move if you don’t want to. Because it is up to you if you want to do that labor or not. You don’t need a reason such as it’s physically demanding or you really need a break. It can just be a decision without any reason.
Attention is a limited resource that dwindles as the day progresses. This is why school and work starts early in the morning. So you can be most productive. This is why creatives start their day early. So they can be most focused on their art. Because by the end of the day, most people aren’t able to perform at the same level as they could at the beginning of the day. So this is why you need to be conscious about how much of your attention another person is getting.
Sometimes friends want to talk about their problems. Other times they want to talk about their ideas. And while you care for them, you need to know if you can afford to perform the task of active listening — something more involved than ‘uh huh’ and ‘um hmm’. Because you should first be spending the limited resource of attention on yourself and on the tasks that you want to finish. Do not get pulled in by things and people that distract you.
LOVE / CARE
Being a good person does not mean you have to love and care for every one. That is something that should be reserved for those who have earned it.
Some people will demand that you care for them or that you are supposed to love them. Maybe because you are related. Or make you feel obligated for some other reasons. But love and care are ultimately choices. Your choices.
If a family member tells you that you have to love them because you are related. Know that the choice to love has not already been made on your behalf. If they disrespect, abuse, neglect or do anything that you feel you don’t deserve, you are allowed to stop caring and loving them. You can also decide to forgive. But only if you want to.
“Unconditional love” and “we look out for our family” mostly seem to be used by those that take advantage of others.
This boundary applies to roommates, friends you grew up with, romantic partners and colleagues. You are to care for and love someone if they meet your standards of relationship.
Just like your body, your property does not belong to anyone else but yourself. Therefore you get to decide if it can be used by another. And when it can be used by another.
Some people assume that just because you let them borrow something of yours, they will automatically be granted access to that property again. But that is not the default. And you need to let them know that without shyness or guilt.
Similarly, those that are close to you like a relative or roommate will also assume that they have ungated access to everything that belongs to you. And that too is not the case. Your phone, your laptop, your books, your clothes, or your car cannot be used without your permission.
It will take time to develop policies about your boundaries. But with practice it will become simple. Those who used to have demands and expectaions of you will think twice before making any assumptions. Because your rules don’t allow it. You are the one in control.