My First Step in “Self-Care” Begins with Setting Boundaries
Recently, I have seen many discussions and blogs posted on self-care and the importance of making time to pamper yourself. Personally, I struggle with finding the time to shower on a regular basis. It is difficult to alter my day to day schedule of caring for two small children, my husband and two small dogs. This makes any effort to improve my image a struggle. In thinking of ways to work on improving and creating my own self-care regimen, I am reminded of the steps I have taken to care for myself, internally. I'd like to share a few of the simple steps I take to preserve my own sanity when dealing with individuals that seem to drain my energy and challenge my inner peace.
Your Feelings Matter
There are times when we must choose space from others and although some may not understand your reasons, personal boundaries are a MUST. It can be hard to communicate the need for a barrier within complicated relationships but the benefits will outweigh the pain, no doubt. This can be a very touchy subject but I do believe it is worth the conversation. Unfortunately, it's not until a situation causes us to feel a certain way that we begin to see the need to distance ourselves from another. It can be tricky to know where to start when feeling this way. Here are a few of the beginning steps I use when starting to break away from someone who has a habit of bringing discomfort and stress in my life (over joy).
It’s OK to Say, “NO”
How many times have you placed yourself in compromising situations in order to keep the waters calm?? Sometimes it works… Others, you fail miserably and your attempt to not “rock the boat” is met with tension and turmoil. All the while you regret not listening to your inner voice and talking yourself out of staying away from conflict. Circumstances such as this could easily be avoided with decline of invitation or refusal to engage. Why then do we so often cave and move forward into murky waters with the prior knowledge that things may not end well? The answer is simple… Fear of what others may say or think of us. When you worry too much about how others think or feel you often neglect your own needs, trying to save face. I can honestly say that learning to say “no” took A LOT of maturity and is still a work in progress. Much self-reflection has brought me to the point where I am not afraid to stay away from people and places who do not serve me well. I will also add that, as I age, I am becoming very aware of that gut feeling that tells me when a simple “no”, is the perfect answer. Learning to trust your own intuition is the best medicine for any sticky situation. Give yourself the beauty of peace of mind and do not be afraid to step back and stay in when something just doesn’t feel right.
You Are Your #1 Protector
If you have been around as long as I have (37 yrs), you probably know that life will not hesitate to smack you in the face without any apology, what so ever. This may come in the form of a misunderstanding with another, an altercation that escalated quicker than you would have liked, a sudden loss, tragedy or illness, being let down by a trusted individual, unexpected confrontation, etc.… the list goes on and on. Time and time again we must remind ourselves that remaining a bit guarded is a necessity in this life. Afterall, shielding your heart, body and soul is an extremely important job but in order to face the challenges life will throw your way, it is very important to set boundaries with some around you. My first suggestion would be to sit down and evaluate your relationships… How does each make you feel? Are you giving more than you receive? Is there someone who is constantly bringing you down with them? Do you have connections with others that bring out the worst in you? How about someone that just brings you anxiety each time you speak? There are many ways to identify someone who may need to be moved to the back of the line within your communication train but you must be honest with yourself in doing so. Keeping yourself in good health means making the effort to shelter your vulnerability from anyone or anything that can and will break your stride.
Self-Preservation Belongs to You Alone
As you move toward establishing boundaries, there may be others close to you that become frustrated with your choice/s. Most of the time if you cut someone from your energy source, they will seek another to dump their negative emotions toward. This can cause conflict with a close-knit group of friends and/or family. Others may not understand your need for space. WHO CARES? No one else lives in your head. It does not matter one bit if someone else is uncomfortable with the choices you have made to protect yourself. Let me say that in another way ( just to be clear). When establishing what keeps you safe, emotionally, mentally and physically, no opinion but your own matters!
Some Just Don’t Deserve Your Support
There are many times that I have been told this but to be honest, it was not until I experienced a repetitive let down with a family member that I realized it to be the honest-to god-truth. Continuing to offer advice and words of wisdom to someone who rejects and/or lashes out in defense to your support, is pointless. Quite frankly, it is a form of mental abuse. There is no reason why anyone in your life should ever react negatively to your genuine care or concern. If you find that someone you love and care for is always fighting your support, it is imperative that you recognize the problem lies in them and not within you! Care and concern should be given to those that will accept it and not those who do not deserve your time, energy and efforts to problem solve or find solutions for their problems.
Let them figure things out on their own and find a new source to provide your suggestive input. Someone that will appreciate your thought and will attempt to better themselves with the positive thoughts you have shared with them. This was a hard lesson for me to take but once I got it, I can tell you that I began to heal a piece of my heart that had been stomped on numerous times by an undeserved soul that just cannot seem to find a way out of their own despair.
These are just a few of the basic ways I look out for me. I have found that operating as described above has helped tremendously to relieve mental anguish when in a relationship that does nothing to benefit myself. Remember to take care of your inner peace! Self care is important and it starts with ensuring that you feel good about the people you have chosen to surround yourself with.
If you have any suggestions for others when it comes to creating boundaries or would like to share your own stories please leave a comment below!