Think back to last time you felt resentful, annoyed at someone, or felt that someone was trying to take advantage of you, and you probably experienced someone crossing one of your boundaries. Our boundaries are really important for us women. They’re a core part of putting limits on how we interact with others, what is and isn’t acceptable in a given situation, what we will and won’t stand for.
Some boundaries are flexible and some are set in stone, with the most effective ones falling somewhere in the middle. Once we are clear about what’s most important to us – our life vision, purposeful work, relationships or wellbeing practices as examples – then we can determine where we need to set our boundaries, and how we will go about holding those lines.
Boundaries can be emotional, psychological, energetic and physical. People placing demands on your time, energy or emotional labour can all cause you to lose track of what you really want or need to get done, and get sucked into their agenda. It can leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, maybe overworked, and can cause major issues in relationships.
The key is to not only work out where you need to set some boundaries in your work and personal life, but also to make those boundaries sacred. This means that you don’t simply set and forget them, or let them be crossed easily because it’s too hard to keep them in place. It’s about setting your intention about why you have the boundaries there in the first place, why they matter to you, and how they protect what is most sacred in your life. That could be time with your children or family, energy you are keeping for your creative pursuits or spiritual practice, precious time with friends, or time alone to reset and recharge.
Here are steps you can follow to create sacred boundaries in your life:
- Where do you currently have boundaries – examine where you already have healthy boundaries in your life. It could be that you have great boundaries in your relationship with your partner, or you may have boundaries that are sacred to you about your self-care. Always start with what is already working well.
- Where are the gaps? – take a look at where boundaries are missing. Start with any place in your life where you feel resentful, feel that you’re being taken advantage of, or look at things that you really want to say no to. Identify three to five core areas that having a boundary in place would make a significant difference in your life. For example, the time you leave work, or the amount of time you spend on social media.
- Manage with clarity, conviction and intention – when you want to put a boundary in place, make sure you’re clear about why it’s there, how it’s serving you and which boundaries are non-negotiable. Also think through how you will respond when people invariably try to push on or get you to flex your boundary. Not drinking? Watch the girls try and get you to margarita night. Want to get to the gym after work? How will you deal with the last minute urgent request from a colleague? Being clear on your intentions will help with your conviction when you come up against barriers.
- Make them sacred – you don’t need to have fifty boundaries, but make sure that the ones you do have are meaningful and sacred to you. Your self-care practices like meditation and sleep, the time you spend with your family, how you protect your emotional and mental wellbeing at work and home, and whatever else is a priority for you, all matter. Making them sacred ensures that you realise and respect just how important they are.
You don’t have to explain to others why your boundaries are in place as they really aren’t anyone else’s business except your own. You get to choose where you need them. You get to decide how you will design them. And you also get to decide how you manage them, and when you will negotiate them, if and when you choose to. Keep them sacred.
Megan Dalla-Camina is a women’s mentor, business coach, speaker and award winning entrepreneur. Her latest book is Simple Soulful Sacred: A Woman’s Guide to Clarity, Comfort and Coming Home to Herself. For more visit megandallacamina.com.