Creating Boundaries That Work

A few years ago, I made a rule for myself: schedule only one event per day.

This was after realizing I had booked two events in between a big event for my oldest daughter. She was excited about spending the day with me and I had ruined it by rushing her from event-to-event-to event. I felt horrible—and realized that I was losing more than what I was accomplishing.

“Never again,” I told myself, when I plopped myself to bed, exhausted and ragged from the day.

Our boundaries—the lines we create to form this imaginary but crucial distinction between our values and the extra stuff, people, event and places—factor in a lot for our general health. We’ve sort of known this, and for astrologers Neptune offers a little insight into this, but until recently, science seems to be formalizing that concept a little more for us.

(I knew this also, with having such a Pisces and Neptune influence in my chart.)

For this particular study, researchers worked with people in Russia, China and other areas with a “socialist past” to understand how these think and develop boundaries. That socialist concept, among these cultures and communities, is vastly different from that of other countries, where there is a hierarchy of things, class structures, etc. So how can people, especially kids, in these countries develop a sense of what is yours, mine and create that distinction, in a healthy way when there is a general belief of having to share everything?

It was an interesting study that concluded that as long as people create boundaries around six areas—our home, personal belongings or things you value, friends, tastes or style, your body and values—our general psychological health is good.

PRINT OUT: Creating Your Boundaries

Had I created a stronger boundary around my values—spending time with my kids—I wouldn’t have been a ragged mess that one day with my kid.

How are you at protecting these spaces?

Home. Your home is where your hearth is, the fortress where you come to recharge… as it should be. How do you feel in your home? What areas in your home help you feel secure, safe and with a strong sense of belonging? Whom do you live with and how do you share space? Where does the space of the other begin and yours start? Can you create a plan or structure to better establish your space?

Personal Belongings. Our society teaches the idiom of “sharing is caring” to kids very early on. It’s even a spiritual mandate as we get older. You need to feel comfortable securing and asking for things you know belong to you, before being willing to share; whether it’s a book, a loan, a salary raise or something as small as a pencil, it’s important to show others how to respect what is yours. Did you see the viral video of 7-year-old Taylor James, where she is telling her mother about how a girl in her class named Lizzy stole her perfect attendance pencil? Well, let’s all be James, who at such a young age already knows what it means to have people respect your boundaries.

Friends. Social media has made it difficult for us to understand what this term means: friends. How do we keep healthy friendships and relationships with others, when there are so many different ways of relating and existing in the world today? Well, the boundaries we set from the get are about honesty, being genuine and respectful with yourself and others. Sticking to those descriptors and interacting, whether online or in real, with those qualities in mind, will make all the difference. How do I remain genuine when interact with someone? How do I bring my most authentic self to everything I do? And not limit myself, out of fear, of doing these things.

Tastes. Our sense of taste is really about not compromising and sticking to what we enjoy in life. Do you often sway from things you enjoy? Wait to see what others are picking out of a menu? Remain undecided until a decision is made for you? What about your choices—the things you enjoy doing and being and eating—make you feel not worthy enough or like you don’t know enough? Start slowly to assert yourself, allowing people to understand what you like to do. It’s not always easy, but be easy on yourself. Research shows that if you this in increments, you’ll be able to establish strength—as the results pile in. “Oh, last time I said I prefer doing something this way, it worked out for me.” Order first on a menu when out with friends. Defend liking the things you do, because they make you who you are, and that’s very important after all and will establish boundaries for yourself of who you are and who they are.

Values. When my daughter was little, we created a set of values for our family. They were simple: no lying, stealing, enjoying every moment, loving each other completely, sticking to our faith. This has stuck with my kids regardless of what happens in life; they know to return to our truth as a family, our foundation, when they feel swayed to do something not quite aligned with it. Create values that you know are important to you and whenever you’re faced with a difficult decision, one that feels like it’s oversleeping it’s boundary, see how it measures up.

Your Body. Our bodies are our temple, provide us with our sense of being in this world, and guarding it with boundaries is of utmost importance. This means not eating or drinking things we know aren’t good for us; treating ourselves with the love and respect our sense of being merits. Make the necessary doctor’s appointments this year; drink plenty of water and get lots of rest; talk to yourself kindly and embrace the parts of you that move and allow you to be in this world. It also means not physically being around others who make us uncomfortable, who raise that inner sense of alarms when our boundaries have been breached. Follow that feeling and trust your body in making those “you and this don’t feel right” decisions.

 

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