“Why did they ask me to do that? I don’t have time! Don’t they know how busy I am...and did I really just say YES?!”
If this sounds like some of your internal monologue, I want to offer you support with setting personal boundaries both as a way of self-care and to overcome burnout.
Personal What, Now?!
Many of us women were never taught about personal boundaries or, if we were, we inferred that setting a boundary meant putting up a wall between ourselves and others. Like when you’ve had all you can take, you snap, “That’s it! I’ve had enough!” in your frustration and resentment.
By then, of course, it’s too late. Snapping a protective wall into place is the antithesis of a healthy boundary; it’s reactive rather than proactive, and is a protective measure rather than a thoughtful means of caring for yourself.
But why is it so difficult to figure out and set healthy boundaries?
You weren’t taught to. Most of us weren’t.
Let me explain.
Healthy Personal Boundaries Fly In The Face Of Conventional Wisdom
At its core, a healthy boundary is a principle that you live by. Brene Brown defines boundaries as simply what is and isn’t okay for you.
Sounds simple, right?
Except you’ve probably received a lifetime of confusing messages about what is or isn’t personally acceptable for you. We women get a lot of “shoulds” - we should feel a certain way, choose certain professions, behave in specific ways in order to please others and be rewarded. Which sets up a vicious circle:
You push yourself to conform to society’s conventional wisdom of how you should be. Yet you feel like you perpetually fall short, leading you to push yourself harder. You wind up feeling like you’re never quite up to standard...which stresses you out and leads you down the path to full blown burnout.
To top it off, we’re also given strong messages that self-care - which is essential to setting boundaries and overcoming burnout - is selfish and self-indulgent.
In other words, if you’re uncertain about your true principles, and confused about your boundaries, it’s not your fault!
How To Skillfully Set A Personal Boundary
Since your personal boundaries rest on the foundation of your life principles, I encourage you to take some quiet time to identify your most cherished ones.
For example, let’s say upon reflection you’ve realized that quality time with your family is something you deeply value. Yet over and over again, you’re asked to take on volunteer work that cuts into your family time. You agree because, well, they’re good causes. Yet even as you agree, you feel resentful, which is a sign your boundary was just violated.
I want you to practice saying out loud, “Thanks for thinking of me, but I don’t have room in my schedule to take that on.” Practice it by yourself, or role play with a person you trust. Practice saying this until you can do it calmly. Be prepared to repeat yourself. And, if you can, smile while you say it.
There’s no need to explain or justify your response.
Now ask yourself the following questions:
What's something you deeply value?
What personal boundary might you set now to honor that more fully?
Send A Powerful Signal Of Self-Care With Healthy Personal Boundaries (And Bring Yourself Back From Burnout)
The simple action of setting a healthy personal boundary will make you feel freer. You’ll be caring for yourself in a powerful way when you demonstrate your commitment to your boundary and its accompanying principle.
And can you intuit how graciously setting a boundary will help you overcome burnout? You will have taken a step toward lessening your overwhelm and stress, both signs of burnout. And you’re sending a signal to the Universe that you’re important. You matter. Your principles matter.
While this may in theory sound like a simple step to take, I know how scary it feels to move past years of heavy social conditioning. You don’t have to do this alone. When you sign up for my email list, you’ll receive regular support and advice including:
- Why self-care and self-love are essential for health and well-being
- Powerful practices to love and care for yourself
- Opportunities to join group events and more!
Plus, I’m here to support you. Comment below and share your responses to these two questions from above:
- What's something you deeply value?
- What personal boundary might you set now to honor that more fully?
Let’s inspire each other to set healthy personal boundaries for ourselves.