Especially for women, learning to create healthy boundaries in your life is an essential, and attainable, part of self-care
Boundaries are a part of self-care. They are healthy, normal, and necessary.~ Doreen Virtue
Being a woman is gift… but it is definitely not easy when you are juggling home, work, family, emotions, teenage angst, and a million other commitments. The majority of women I speak with comment on their days seeming blurry as they are always on-the-go with no or minimal time to process their 24 hours. Taking care of other people, many women tend to overlook what they need until eventually, the stress and exhaustion catch up because no one can serve from an empty space.
And then there is guilt, such a pervasive female trait! Between my clients, friends, and cousins, I have heard the word ‘guilt’ creep into conversations all too often. Guilt about being too ambitious or guilt about not being adequately career-oriented. Guilt for not being good enough mothers, partners, spouses, daughters, friends. Guilt for physical appearances and guilt for relationships that didn’t work.
The “to do” and “to be” lists are endless. That is why setting boundaries is imperative if you want a balanced life.
For many of us, asserting our boundaries feels uncomfortable because there is a sense of guilt and fear attached to communicating our needs. But building healthy boundaries in your personal life will eventually enhance you, your family, and your career. That said, finding balance and building boundaries won’t happen overnight. And it definitely won’t be easy at first. But with practice, you can do it. Here’s how:
1. Carve Out Me Time
Carve out 30 minutes on a daily basis for yourself. Figure out the time of the day that works best for you and then be inflexible about compromising on this time unless there is an emergency. Have a conversation with your family about why you need this ‘alone-time’. You could use this time to meditate or nap or read a book or drink a glass of wine or chai or watch Netflix. But it’s your time where you don’t actively engage with anyone but yourself.
2. Abandon Perfectionism
When NBC Palm Springs recently interviewed me, I went on air and confessed that I forgot to bring pants with me from NYC. The interviewer laughed. But I laughed harder because being imperfect in that moment felt so freeing. The day before I caught my flight, I was in Upstate New York for work during the day and there was a party in NYC later that evening. By the time I got home and finished packing (I am not very good with last-minute anything), the pants got left behind on the chair. So many women struggle with this idea of perfectionism and the need to do it all. But no one can cook three fresh meals a day, show up to a full-time job, attend all extracurricular activities at their kids’ school, throw fancy dinner parties, and look like a TV model 24/7.
Dr. Wayne Dwyer says that perfectionism is a sign of our fears and insecurities, so dig deep to identify the underlying cause of your own need for perfection.
3. Learn To Say NO
We live in a world where everyone wants a slice of your time, but sometimes it is OK to say NO. Prioritize yourself by learning to say NO to a toxic phone call. Learn to say NO to a chai or coffee commitment. Learn to say NO to a dinner invitation. Learn to say NO to what doesn’t nourish your soul. Sure, you might experience ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out), but you might also realize that being discerning about your time is an act of freedom.
4. Find Your Tribe and Love Them Hard
Surround yourself with those people who lift you higher and support your dreams. Pay attention to the ones who support you, the ones who are apathetic, and the ones who bring you down. Believe that you deserve better and then surround yourself with people who help you become a better version of yourself — and don’t be afraid to let go of the others.
5. Stop Feeling Guilty About Endings
Sometimes, friendships and relationships end. I don’t mean that in a dramatic, confrontational, or aggressive way; not every ending has to be bitter or emotionally explosive. Sometimes, people who have known each other for decades change… and change isn’t necessarily bad. But pretending that you don’t see the change or ignoring the fact that you no longer identify with a person you have known for years is unhealthy for both parties. Every relationship in your life either teaches you a lesson or becomes a blessing (and in the best cases, both).
Learn from it all and move on with grace.
You may also enjoy reading Boundaries, Boundaries, and More Boundaries: The Key To Managing Energy Vampires by Christiane Northrup, M.D.