I’m Setting Boundaries

Happy Friday! I don’t know about you, but the week flew by for me, which is good and bad. Good because I don’t have class until Monday, but bad because the GRE is getting closer and closer. I’d definitely be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for it!

June is going to be a crazy month for me. I’ll be taking the GRE, going home for one of my best friend’s weddings, flying to Virginia for my cousin’s high school graduation, starting work, taking classes, and moving apartments. All I can say is there’s definitely never a dull moment haha. But with being a generally busy person, I’ve come to realize the importance of setting boundaries. Traditionally, we think of this as something between others and ourselves, but I also want to talk about the importance of setting boundaries with ourselves.

I think most of us struggle with this concept because we feel uncomfortable confronting people who might be using us for our time, money, and talents. We’ve all been in a situation where someone takes advantage of us, and chances are we’ll be in another. I remember my friends taking advantage of my studiousness by asking to copy my homework or borrow my notes. When teenagers start driving, their friends take advantage of them for rides. Thankfully this never really happened to me because I had a late birthday and most people could already drive 🙂

As adults, I think we become more aware of people taking advantage of us, but also less adept in confronting them. Personally, I think it’s easy to tell a friend I can’t take them home or that they can’t copy my homework. Plus, kids and teenagers are confrontational anyway, so making someone mad really isn’t that big of a deal for them. Plus, I think we all know that drama is just a part of being that age. A friend might have been mad at me that day, but come the next day they’re joking around with me between classes. It’s just how life is at that age.

It’s a lot harder to tell a boss that a coworker stole our innovative idea or to tell a friend we can’t loan them money anymore because the repercussions of doing so are more serious. Tell the boss and we become that coworker who couldn’t just let it go. The person we’re trying to expose might even start a scene and claim that it was their idea to begin with. Now we’ve got this huge mess on our hands and could even lose our job depending on who our boss believes. And our friend we cut off? We could’ve just lost a best friend. Friendships are serious as adults, and addressing something like this could be devastating.

What might be even harder is setting boundaries with ourselves. How many times do we spread ourselves too thin? How often does one donut become a dozen or one off day from the gym turn into a month? How often do we let people take advantage of us or stay too late at the office that we end up missing a family dinner? Probably more than we’d like to admit. I’m very guilty of spreading myself too thin, and I know that. Have I done anything to address it? Not really. I could even argue that I take on more responsibilities so that I don’t have to think about the ones I already have.

I think setting boundaries with ourselves is more important than doing so with others because if we aren’t true to ourselves, we can’t be honest with others. If we drag ourselves down, we drag others with us. No matter how much we think we’re independent, we all have family. We all have friends. I know when I spread myself too thin, my mom and best friend suffer because I just complain about everything. I also get so tired and worn out that I can’t be the best son or greatest friend.

So what do we do? We either complain to our best friends or do nothing. Both scenarios make the problem worse because essentially all we are doing is hiding from it. I’ll be the first to tell you that you can only hide for so long and run so far. One of my favorite quotes is:

“And when you’d finished running, you’d be thousands of miles away from people who love you and your problem would still be there except you’d have nobody to help you.” ~ Melina Marchetta

Two strategies that have helped me are:

  1. Immediately setting the boundary – While this is probably the hardest one, it’s likely the most effective. How we go about doing it is important. When a friend asks to borrow money, don’t just say “no” because that’s when the arguments start and the friendship ends. Instead, try honestly telling them how you feel. “I feel like you’ve been asking me for money a lot lately, and it’s starting to put a strain on my situation. I’m sorry, but I can’t help out anymore.” That’s comes across a lot nicer than “no”, but still serves the same purpose. It also adds emotion, which a true friend would be affected by. A lot of people will say to practice this by first acknowledging what you’re doing and then work on saying no politely, but I disagree. If we already have issues setting boundaries, we likely already know what we’re doing to ourselves. “Practicing” is simply us getting better at ignoring the problem.
  2. Being honest with myself – Often times, we know what we need, we are just too stubborn to accept it. Take 5-10 minutes to write down your stressors when you feel overwhelmed. Which tasks can you delegate to someone else? Which tasks are you giving too much time and energy to? What do you need to accomplish for each of those tasks to get them done? Most importantly, which of them are actually important to you? I find myself doing things that my heart isn’t in because someone else asked me to or because it’ll look good on my resume. While making sacrifices is necessary, too many sacrifices leaves an open wound and a to-do list that never gets done. The funny thing is that when we actually do what we’re passionate about, we can set boundaries easier and get more done while having fun in the process.

I hope this post was insightful! Trust me, I’m right there with you. We’re in this together 🙂

Don’t forget to like, comment, and share. As always, thank you for reading and I’ll talk to you on Monday!

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