As a child, your boundaries are set by your parents. They decide everything for you – bedtime, when you need a nap, what you eat, when you eat, when you’re allowed to play. Children have no control, no say in their boundaries.
The teenage years are a game changer for boundaries. We all know how much teenagers like to be told what to do!
Those years, especially the last few years as a teenager, are all about boundaries. Testing them. Learning to negotiate around them. Finally being allowed to set your own.
I’ve always said the teenage years are about kids learning the skills they need in order to survive once they’ve left the house. And for parents to want their kids to leave the house 😊
Boundaries are essential to us
Being able to set healthy boundaries is one of the most important skills you can learn as a human.
They allow you to control your physical health – exercise, sleep, diet, alcohol consumption all need your ability to say enough in order for you to function at your optimum.
But oh boy are boundaries important for your mental health! From how you let people speak to you to the behaviour you’re not willing to put up with, healthy boundaries are imperative for your self-esteem.
There was only one voice heard in my teenage household. It was a voice that needed constant attention and sucked all the air out of the room for the rest of us.
My entire adult life has been affected by this
I’ve allowed people to treat me with total disrespect. I’ve not been able to voice my anger at that behaviour.
I’ve people pleased until I was exhausted. Passive-aggressiveness was my go-to tool to show people I was hurt by them or unhappy with them.
I’ve eagerly embraced any type of attention no matter how toxic, just to believe that I was enough – good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, loveable enough.
My nervous system has spent decades regulated to chaos and drama.
It’s influenced my behaviour as a mum, a wife, a friend, an employee.
I’ve spent the last decade doing some pretty rough work on myself. Inner child healing. Navigated a whopper of an identity crisis. Finally found my voice.
I've gradually learned to start saying no. To start pushing back on things that make me uncomfortable.
Each time has become easier but I've always needed a bit of time to talk myself into doing it.
Hello new me
I had the opportunity recently to let something into my life that I knew wasn't any kind of a win for me and would leave me questioning why I said yes.
Old me would have jumped at this – following someone else’s lead, minimising myself and my needs in order to please them. In order to build up my self-esteem by proving I was needed.
Well, new me thought a few steps ahead to where this opportunity would take me.
New me asked “What do I get from this situation? “
My nervous system, finally regulated to calmness, said “Oh no, babe – we like peace now, we like stability.”
New me even had the cheek to ask the most important question of all, “Is this really what you’ve done all that hard work, all that deep, healing work for?”
So I set my own boundaries. I clearly defined what I found acceptable. And I stuck to those boundaries.
The world didn’t explode. The other person didn’t tell me what a horrible, selfish person I was. They didn’t ignore what I said.
Instead, they adapted their behaviour. They treated my boundary setting with respect.
There was no drama, no big song and dance about the way I was behaving.
I didn’t even have to justify it.
My boundaries were just accepted.
I felt good about standing up for myself in a clear, concise, non-dramatic way.
No, scratch that.
I felt AMAZING. I felt like a proper adult. I felt calm, secure and my joy at taking this step ran bone deep.
Because this time, for the first time, there was no second guessing my decision, no hesitation, no worry about how I would be judged. I just did it.
As if setting healthy boundaries was a natural, inherent part of me.
If I can do it, you can do it
Over the years, I’ve had close friends tell me before that I was allowing myself to be treated wrongly. That I was playing the victim. That I deserved to be treated better.
I knew those things. All of them.
But what I didn’t know is that I could choose the way I allow others to treat me. That my voice would actually be heard. Maybe not always accepted but that’s ok too because sometimes boundaries need a little negotiation.
Your teenage years will have set your ability to set healthy boundaries for yourself.
And if that’s something you never learned how to do, let me assure you it’s never too late.
You can learn to say no. You can learn to protect yourself. You can learn to put your needs first and draw lines in the sand that you will not cross.
Your world will not dissolve. The people who love you will stick around. They may kick off for a bit but my darling they are not going anywhere.
People don’t love you because you say no. They love you for who you are. They want you to be happy.
And learning to set boundaries only makes you shine more brightly.
Want to chat about how you can learn to set boundaries? Book a virtual coffee now and let's see if my Inner Child Healing programme can help you...