“ I allow myself to set healthy boundaries. To say no to what doesn’t align with my values. To say yes to what does. Boundaries assist me to remain healthy, honest and living a life that is true to me. ” ~ Brene Brown
Anytime in life when I allowed others to cross the line with me, I was showing them it was okay to overstep and treat me poorly. When I was taking care of my parents and they lived with us, I felt so bad for them because they went from living independently in their own home to living with their grand-kids and me with their ‘things’ being confined to a room plus all their medical equipment.
My parents; especially my dad, were hoarders. Their personal household things were in their primary residence, TWO other empty homes (except with their ‘stuff’), and THREE huge storage rooms. Going through all of this was extremely overwhelming on top of taking care of them on a daily basis. I really did feel bad for them. I couldn’t imagine being them and not having their things with them.
When we moved them into our modest, four bedroom home, we didn’t have ‘extra’ space. However, we consolidated rooms and gave them the family room/dining room. Although there was no privacy with this room, it was the largest of the rooms for them. This room was the center of the home and our kitchen was a natural extension of the room. It became easy for my parents to extend their space to include the kitchen counters, dining room table and the office. Suddenly, their stuff was all over and it bugged me to no end!
You see, growing up in a home with hoarders, I did the opposite when I got older. Everything had a space and there was none of this spewing of things among rooms. It drove me crazy! Still, I bit my tongue because I felt bad for them. It got to a point, though, that I couldn’t stand by and watch my home become a messy, disorganized space.
“ Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” ~ Brene Brown
I realized that they weren’t doing this to hurt me or annoy me. This was their way of being and they didn’t realize what it was doing to me. One day, I sat them down and explained how I was feeling and we set boundaries around the space. I said that at the end of each day, they needed to have any paperwork and such neatly put away in their room. Failure to do so would result in their things being tossed on their bed or thrown away. I followed through with everything I said and they got the message that this behavior was no longer allowed. Period.
My parents respected my boundaries and did MUCH better after this. Their room, however, was another story… We had a pocket door installed so we could give them privacy and close the door to the rest of the house. This helped, too. This experience taught me that no matter how bad I felt for them, I was treating myself poorly by allowing this behavior in my home. Never again will I allow this type of thing to happen. It impacted my physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Here are some tips for establishing boundaries so you maintain your well-being and sanity:
- Make sure you respect yourself enough to set boundaries that are true to you. This could be anything from your personal space to when you’ll accept phone calls to how late you’ll stay out to…anything!
- Remember that NO is a complete sentence! I’ve talked about this before and provide some tips for alternatives to saying “no” here.
- Ask for what you need. People won’t know what you need unless you ask. People don’t read minds and the clearer you can be about what you need, the more likely you’ll be to get it.
- Stop taking on responsibility for others. This includes things like making phone calls for other people, making appointments for them, keeping the peace among people, allowing someone’s crisis to be your crisis, etc… There are so many ways we can take responsibility for others. I encourage you to look at this and see where this may be showing up for you.
- Don’t let who you are be up for debate! Whatever you do, make sure everything you say and do is in line with your values.
Remember, having a lack of boundaries invites a lack of respect. Respect yourself enough… Love yourself enough… to create boundaries! In doing so, you are saying YES to your happiness and well-being and NO to stress and bad habits.
It’s YOUR turn: Have you ever had a lack of boundaries in your life? Which tips above do you most resonate with? What other tips do you have to maintain healthy boundaries? Please comment below!