How to Hold onto Your Boundaries

Do you ever feel like your boundaries get crossed when you start to live from what you really want in life? Do you ever begin the week excited to sign up for that class you've been meaning to take, or go on your favorite hike? Then when you look back the week was filled with people and activities that leave you feeling annoyed and depleted.

We can have an expectation after 50 that we should be more available to others after the kids have flown the nest or we've left our full-time job. It’s true that we may have more flexibility. And it’s not unusual to take on more family responsibilities, what with the needs of grandchildren, boomerang children, and aging parents. If you find yourself giving all your time to others it may be time for a boundary check.

How life feels with murky boundaries

Giving too much away has been a lifelong challenge for me. If you were the responsible kid in your family it’s probably been a challenge for you too. 

You know the drill. You give away your time. You over-volunteer.  You’re on alert, saving the day, attracting problems to solve and people to rescue. After all, maybe this has worked well for you in the past, powering your successful career.  Maybe it makes you feel special. Maybe it draws people to you who need your help.

Living like this can make you feel like you don’t know who you are. That makes sense, because you’ve given so much of yourself away. There’s a tension at your surface, waiting to break. You keep giving, because that's what's expected. You keep giving, even though you know that’s not what you want. You keep giving, even though you’ll never be loved as you should be for giving so much of yourself away.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to just stop! Yet you keep giving because below the surface is a deep dark pool. The pool says “Settle for giving, because then people will want to keep you. You're the responsible one! Giving is your job!"

Does this sound like you?

How would it feel to not have to work so hard?

How would it feel to float through life with ease, knowing that everything that you allow in is there because you want it?

How would it feel to believe you are loved, just as you are?

You can have this sense of ease. You just need to begin.

Begin Here to Reset Your Boundaries

Follow this process the next time you think you should do something that you don't want to:

First, take a deep breath and count to ten. Then ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why am I doing this?  If you hear yourself using words like, “I should,” “I need to,” “I have to,” or “I’m always the one who . . . ” continue to Step 2.
  2. Imagine yourself actually doing the thing. How is your mood? Does it distract you from your focus? Does it take energy away from what you want in your life now?
  3. Ask, is this really my problem to solve? No? Then let it go.
  4. Picture yourself saying, “I’m no longer available for this.”
  5. Now say it out loud!

When you start working with boundaries this way, it can feel like you are disappointing everyone in your world, and that may indeed be true. You may feel guilty or worried that things won’t go right without you, or people may step up and no longer need you. This is when you get to choose:  cycle back into the old loop or step out of it, onto an open path.

As you get clear within yourself, you’ll find that it becomes easier to say “no” to what you will no longer tolerate. You’ll find yourself bringing a clear, calm, compassionate energy to the help you freely choose to give.

Practice with this daily. You are enough. Let go of the old rules and be free.