How To Establish Boundaries Without Hurting Feelings
Boundaries are essential to leading and living a peaceful life, especially for those who struggle with anxiety. And while it can be challenging to start putting down boundaries at first, the end result is worth it. In this blog post, I’ll show you how you can begin to gently establish boundaries without hurting those closest to you.
There are many things I’ve learned through the years struggling with anxiety and one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is establishing boundaries. I really didn’t learn a lot about boundaries until this past year and a new therapist who showed me that establishing boundaries is the only way to live a peaceful life.
I use to say yes to everything and I mean everything. My first year of doing weddings, I shot 150 of them and nearly landed in the hospital from the burnout. Flash forward to 10-years later where I only take on a few select wedding clients per year and only the ones who align with my business values. And let me tell you what a huge difference it’s made for my family and myself. I use to let every single client run me ragged into the ground. After a year of saying yes to everything and bending into every request from every client, I became so exhausted that I didn’t even like myself, let alone my business.
It took years of realizing that the way I was running my business was wrong because I was letting it run me. Anxiety and boundaries go hand in hand and many people don’t even realize this. I’ve been in and out of therapy most of my life, but started going regularly two years ago. With my first therapist it wasn’t the right fit and I would actually let her run all over me, boss me around, and tell me what to do it. That’s not a therapist’s job. A therapist should never tell you what to do, but should guide you in helping making healthier choices and decisions. It wasn’t until I found the right therapist that I realized what boundaries truly mean.
At first, establishing boundaries can be really hard because the people who in your life who constantly break boundaries are not going to like it when you begin to establish them. It’s taken about 6-months of diligent practice and persistence to create boundaries and limits within all of my relationships. This includes my work relations, my personal relationships, my inner circle, my outer circle, and even my pets. Yes, pets need to learn boundaries too.
I use to be the person who would word-vomit reply to every single Instagram DM I received. I would explain everything, tell others my deep, dark secrets, and would be so open on Instagram that even reality shows would be terrified. Nothing was held back I put it all out there and I deeply regret that, especially regarding the subject of Shane and I starting a family. I wish I had never opened up that Pandora’s box. It’s something I’m tight lipped about now and it needs to be kept private and should have always been private. I’ve learned the hard way that not every single piece of dirty laundry needs to be aired on the Internet, especially to strangers. It does nothing but bring in a lot of chatter and unnecessary opinions and tons of anxiety.
Let’s talk about opinions for a second. Opinions can be beneficial, especially when they have constructive criticism. There is an exception to this rule though. Multiple opinions are never good for people who have anxiety. More opinions produce more anxiety and upset and can be detrimental for an anxious person attempting to establish boundaries. The less opinions you have from others, the easier your anxiety will be to manage and the lighter you will feel. When someone starts giving you their opinion and unsolicited advice, simply say: no thanks. I appreciate you giving me your opinion, but it’s not something I’m looking for right now. This step creates and boundary and lets the other person know you appreciate them, but you are okay without their opinion.
The next way to easily establish boundaries is simply not answering the phone. If you have people in your life who constantly call you and demand your time, don’t pick up the phone. Call them back when it’s good for you and you can expel that energy listening to them. This can be hard, if you are a people pleaser like me. Or rather, I consider myself to be a recovering people please. I use to answer phone calls and texts right away, even if I was in the middle of something important. I would literally drop everything to take someone’s call, even Shane’s. The phone and the conversation can wait if you are working. Your time is valuable and dropping everything to take someone’s call only hurts you, not them. Call the person back when you have time.
Turn off that phone and put it in airplane mode. I do this religiously at night now. If I miss an important email or someone is upset at me for not getting back to them right away, then I was never meant for that person or opportunity in the first place. The things that are meant for you will be there for regardless of how quickly you get back to them. During work hours, it’s fine to respond to someone right away, but if someone emails you at 1am, there is no need to reply other than in normal, daytime business hours.
This is a really difficult step for all of those people pleasers out there, but try this trick for 7-days. Everyday at a certain time (pick the time that works best for you) put your phone in airplane mode and leave it in airplane mode until the morning. And do this in the morning too. We have a societal habit of turning our phones on immediately first thing in the morning and checking emails, Instagram, Facebook and so on. This is an un-healthy habit as it causes us to take in all that info from other people first thing.
Right away, you are starting your day being blasted with other people’s lives. Try starting your morning each day without your phone, and see how much more productive your time is throughout the day. Do this for a week and see if you feel lighter at the end of the week. You can even reward yourself with a treat like a yoga class or that new book you’ve been lusting over on Amazon. Small rewards for big milestones keep’s you motivated to continue to establish the habit of establishing boundaries.
I could write pages on how to create boundaries, but I’ll start here. Remember that it’s okay to be vocal about your mental health and anxiety. We need to be talking more about these subjects and the more we talk about them, the less taboo they’ll become.
It’s okay to tell people you need time. It’s okay to ignore a persons phone call or reply later to someones text. It’s okay to let your family know that there are lines that cannot be crossed. The people who want to be in your life will respect your boundaries and will be there for you regardless.
The ones who back away because of the boundaries you set, weren’t meant for you long term and that’s okay too.
Comment below and tell me what other topics you would like to see on the blog. I’m here to share my story and to help others along my journey.