I'd be hard-pressed to name all the things I love about being a life coach. Working so intimately with other women in a 1:1 environment definitely has it's perks. I’ve been fortunate enough to have developed heart-felt relationships and connections with so many inspirational sisters, all the while learning a great deal about the issues countless women face on the daily. A large number of which hold relevance in my own life.
This has definitely been the case recently. The message of boundaries has been coming through loud and clear to me. It’s presence in my client sessions has illuminated the need to assess my own boundaries when it comes to my personal life and business.
For the past 9 months I’ve really upped the ante with my self-care practices. For the first time in god knows how long I’ve finally made self-care a big priority in my life. However when it comes to creating solid boundaries for myself, I seem to be falling short of the mark. I’m still noticing myself falling into old habits and unhealthy behaviour patterns.
The link between self-care and boundaries is irrefutable. I really feel it is impossible for someone to adequately care for themselves if they don’t have certain personal boundaries set in place. Yet for so many women the idea of putting our own needs above that of another is completely unheard and totally frowned upon.
Why has prioritising ourselves become such a taboo subject?
THE IMPORTANCE OF BALANCE
As women it can be quite natural to feel the desire to hold space for others in a nurturing way.
Heightened intuitive senses doubled with our innate capacity to provide support sees many women unofficially taking on roles as carers and healers. A sometimes selfless act that requires the needs of another be put above our own personal needs.
Because this feeling is so natural, it can be easy for women to constantly remain in this state. Completely dedicating themselves to serving others, yet neglecting to remember one crucial element in the equation. Themselves.
The state of our own wellbeing is largely influenced by how in balance we are with life. When our physical body is out of balance we get sick, when our mental or emotional bodies are out of balance we experience mood swings and mental illness. The same can be true for the energetic body as a whole.
Remaining in a constant state of giving leaves little time to receive the energy back in some way. When there isn't an equal amount of energy coming in as there is going out, we've got a serious problem on our hands.
SELFISH VS SELF-ISH
The big issue here is how acceptable it has become to live a selfless life.
It is considered selfish to put yourself first, but I feel a big distinction needs to be made between being selfish and finally starting to prioritise your own needs.
Now I'm not condoning completely disregarding the needs of others around you. My point is that your needs are also of value so naturally they should be considered in the decision making process as well.
You should be aiming for a win-win scenario where the needs of both parties involved are being met in a balanced way.
In choosing to continue to constantly put others needs above your own, you are sending your unconscious mind a very clear message. That you don't value yourself or your time in the same way you value others. And I can tell you right now, that ain't healthy!
The trick is in continuing to support and give to others while balancing the need to receive the energy back in some form in order to care for and support yourself.
Yes sometimes it requires a little problem solving at times, but in most scenarios a win-win outcome can easily be achieved. Unfortunately many women just shy away from this step altogether because they feel guilty about bringing up their needs in the first place.
THE NEED FOR BOUNDARIES WITH YOURSELF
In my case, I have done a lot of work already around learning to say no and managing my FOMO (fear of missing out) in these situations. I no longer feel the guilt when I politely decline an offer or have to cancel an engagement for self-care reasons.
However I am noticing my need for boundaries popping up in a more personal way. Although I have now grown accustom to honouring my needs in regards to others, when it comes to my business I have very few boundaries set in place because it's something I absolutely adore working on.
After reflecting on my working habits I realised my lack of boundaries shows up in quite a few ways.
From my long working hours and less than adequate breaks, to taking on too much work and making myself available around the clock for clients. In all honesty there really isn't much I wouldn't do in the name of my business.
Do I enjoy it? Heck yes! Is it serving my highest good? I highly doubt it. I'm sacrificing a lot of rest and self-care time because I am so invested in my work.
My lesson has been to take a step back from everything. To implement some non-negotiable self-care practices and to make some strict guidelines around my schedule and working hours.
Although I strongly dislike the structure of routine, I think in this case it's necessary for me to schedule in time where I just don't work at all (because at the moment my power switch seems to be stuck at "on").
The decision to make all day Saturday and Monday/Friday nights completely work free has me breathe a sigh of relief. Knowing that I have these days to look forward to and that I really deserve to take this time off (without having to feel guilty about it!) makes me feel really good about powering through the rest of the working week.
So by now I bet you're probably wondering how exactly you can start creating your own healthy boundaries. Well you're in luck sister, because I'm going to lay it out below especially for you...
HOW TO SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
1. Make yourself a priority
We are all equals in this life, and accepting this means acknowledging that your own personal needs should be considered just as important as the needs of another.
It may take a lot of practice to grow accustomed to this idea, however it is completely essential. If ignored not only will you begin to feel emotionally and energetically drained but you also run the risk of total burn out (because you're probably already half way there if you're not prioritising yourself!).
2. Ask yourself this question
If you’re struggling to make a decision and feel swayed by the guilt of expectations, a good question to ask yourself is, “If I deeply loved and cared for myself what would I do?”.
In some situations making yourself available for others will be what you truly feel is in your best interest. At other times your answer will make it very apparent that you need to take a step back for everyone’s benefit.
The thing is, if you never ask yourself these type of questions you’re unlikely to ever feel clear about any future decisions. Your actions will be clouded with guilt rather than a knowing that you're acting in accordance with your heart and for the highest good of all parties involved.
3. Learning to say no
This is a task I quite regularly set for my clients, some of which have never said no or turned down an offer before. Often we allow our decisions to be based upon the expectations we place on ourselves as well as the guilt felt at the thought of letting someone down.
The idea of saying no to someone can send our minds into a panic!
However most of the time we tend to catastrophise situations like this when we play them out in our head. 9 times out of 10 people are actually ok with you saying no, and are often completely understanding of the fact that you are a person too and have your own needs to attend to at times.
4. Offer a solution
To combat the feelings of guilt (because lord knows they still creep in even when you know you're doing the right thing), offer an alternative solution.
If you need to back out of a prior engagement, offer a suitable time to reschedule. If you can't support someone in they way they have asked, what else could you do to offer them support in a way that works for both of you?
Offering this solution is a way of showing the other person that you still deeply care about them and their needs even if you are unable to meet their expectations in this instance.
5. Define your non-negotiables
What do I mean by non-negotiables? These are the practices that you feel are necessary to ensure your overall state of wellbeing.
What exactly would you need to feel you were adequately taking care of yourself?
Do you cherish your weekly yoga class, long for those peaceful ocean walks or hang out for the days you see your girlfriends?
Setting weekly and monthly non-negotiable self-care practices not only aid in maintaining healthy boundaries, they also help you make more empowered choices in your day to day life. Clearly defining your non-negotiables allows you to make decisions with confidence as you already know what is and isn't acceptable in regards to your needs being met.
If you take anything away from this post let it be this.
Never forget the importance of your needs.
Never underestimate your astonishing worth.
You deserve to show yourself the same respect and love that you would show another.
You deeply matter.
Please don't ever forget this!
In love, light and magic,