One of the things I've been thinking a lot about over recent weeks has been the reasons why people tend to find it so difficult to set healthy boundaries in relationships, and it dawned on me:
The concept of boundaries tends to make us feel guilty [unnecessarily] and therefore leads us to want to make up for our perceived selfishness by compensating with our self esteem, mental health and well being, and emotional regulation.
Why has this been on my mind lately?
Because after the release of my latest acoustic single "Goodbye": I've had several conversations with people about this very conundrum.
"Doesn't letting people go make me a horrible person?"
"I don't like being perceived as mean."
"They have so many good qualities... surely I can tolerate the negative ones?"
Let me make this clear: saying "Goodbye" to someone doesn't have to be a selfish act. It's an act of self care. There's a difference. In other words:
I love the quote of Brazilian lyricist Paulo Coelho: “When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” – isn't it a great start of your learning to use that simple word, which can protect your boundaries?
Yes. It can be uncomfortable, scary, and potentially vulnerable, but I promise you: "Goodbye" isn't a bad word if it's protecting your peace.
Before we dig in any further though, ICYMI: here's my latest single "Goodbye" in honor of August being "Don't be a Bully month".
Right. Let's dig in a little deeper, shall we?
Why are relationship boundaries important?
The notion of boundaries can sometimes stir up unwarranted guilt, leading us to believe that setting limits equates to selfishness. This misconception often triggers a downward spiral where we compensate for our perceived self-centeredness by sacrificing our self-worth, emotional equilibrium, and mental health. But here's the revelation: prioritizing your well-being isn't selfish – it's an investment in your happiness.
Boundaries stand as a vital cornerstone within healthy relationships, whether they involve a partner, parent, friend, professional co-worker, or even a fellow bandmate [ha!]. Their significance lies in maintaining equilibrium between you and the individual you share a connection with.
Furthermore, boundaries act as effective conflict mitigators, establishing a clear framework for mutual expectations. They serve as exemplars that define the acceptable norms of interaction. Embracing these boundaries paves the way for enriched connections, nourished by open and honest communication, drawing you and your partner even closer.
Conversely, neglecting healthy boundaries can pave the path to toxicity and dissatisfaction within relationships. Your overall well-being can suffer greatly. For instance, constantly being asked for money by a friend might lead you to feel taken advantage of, while shouldering all of your partner's emotional burdens could overwhelm you with stress.
In essence, embracing healthy boundaries is the cornerstone of nurturing fulfilling and harmonious relationships, while also safeguarding your own emotional and mental well-being.
What are some examples of healthy boundaries?
Let's clear up the common misconceptions. Setting boundaries isn't about being callous or unkind; it's about nurturing your own growth and happiness. Now, let's unravel the tapestry of healthy boundaries and their transformative impact on our lives.
Know what you want in a relationship
To set healthy boundaries, start by getting to know yourself better. This is like taking a journey inside your thoughts and feelings. By understanding what you really want and need from your relationships, you can create a safe space where you feel good emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Imagine it as planting a garden of boundaries in your life. This self-awareness is like the rich soil where these boundaries grow. It lets you stand up for what you need and care about, making sure you're treated the way you deserve.
As you become more aware of your needs, you're like an artist creating a beautiful picture of your life. By setting boundaries based on this understanding, you make sure you're surrounded by positivity and growth. Your relationships become better, and you find more happiness and well-being.
Talk to the person about your needs
Talking with others is like a bridge connecting how we feel inside to the world around us. When it comes to setting boundaries, it's important to talk about your feelings calmly and confidently. This isn't about starting a fight, but about sharing what you need and want honestly.
When you express your needs calmly, you're making sure your message comes across clearly. And remember, this isn't about arguing; it's about having a good conversation. By talking openly and honestly, you're building trust and understanding with the people you care about, which makes your relationships stronger.
- Making your expectations clear rather than assuming people will figure them out.
In the realm of setting healthy boundaries, it's paramount to recognize that making your expectations explicitly clear is an essential practice. Assuming that others will naturally decipher your needs can often lead to misunderstandings and unmet hopes. By openly and confidently expressing your expectations, you not only enhance communication but also create a foundation of mutual understanding, where both parties are aligned and empowered to respect each other's boundaries.
- The Magic of "I"
When you're setting boundaries, it's important to be clear yet kind. You want to speak your mind whilst also being considerate. Instead of blaming or demanding, using "I" statements helps you express your feelings and needs in a more compassionate way.
For example, if you say, "I need some alone time to recharge," you're not just saying what you want, but you're also inviting the other person to understand how you feel. This approach avoids misunderstandings and makes it easier to have a positive conversation.
Remember, setting boundaries isn't about starting a fight; it's about making things clear and improving your relationships. When you use "I" statements, you're not just talking – you're opening a door for better understanding and respect, which makes your interactions healthier and your well-being a priority.
Setting boundaries at work
Boundaries aren't just for personal relationships; they're just as important for our professional relationships. Think of them as guidelines that help create a healthy balance between your job and your life. By setting limits on things like what's expected of you, when you'll communicate after work, and your personal space, you're preventing burnout and keeping a good balance.
Imagine it like drawing lines on a map to show where different places start and end. By setting limits on what's expected at work, you're making sure you don't get overwhelmed with tasks. Saying when you'll communicate after work is like closing a door to work emails so you can relax. And having your own personal space at work, where you can think and focus, is like having a special spot just for you.
All these boundaries make sure you're not always on the clock, and that work doesn't take over your life. It's about keeping a healthy balance so you can do your job well without getting stressed out. Just like a well-built house, a workplace with good boundaries is strong and supportive, letting you do your best while taking care of yourself.
Identify Your Limits
Take a moment to figure out what makes you feel good and what doesn't. When you understand your own limits, you get a clearer picture of how you feel and what you want. It's about knowing what lifts you up and what brings you down emotionally.
This self-discovery isn't just about preferences; it's about respecting yourself. Imagine putting up a fence around your emotional space – you let in what's positive and keep out what's negative. This awareness helps you handle situations that might throw you off balance, giving you the confidence to navigate life in a genuine and graceful way. Knowing what you're comfortable with isn't just knowing yourself; it's taking care of yourself, making sure your well-being is a top priority.
Keeping your boundaries intact, even when things get tough, shows your strength and self-respect. Think of it like staying on course despite rough seas – by holding onto your boundaries, you're steering through challenges with determination. This sends a clear message that you value your well-being.
When faced with difficulties, sticking to your boundaries isn't just about you. Yes, it's a way of saying you won't compromise your self-worth, but it also builds trust and authenticity in your relationships. So, even when it's tempting to give in, remember that sticking to your boundaries is a sign of your inner power. Just like strong roots support a tree in a storm, your boundaries support you, helping you grow and thrive through life's ups and downs.
Ensure your well-being is a priority; it's not selfish, it's essential. Think of it like tending to a garden – when you nurture your well-being, you're nurturing your ability to thrive in life. Just like a healthy garden grows beautiful flowers, prioritizing your emotional, mental, and physical health lets you be your best self. This isn't just about you; it's about positively impacting the people and things around you. Recognize that looking after yourself isn't a luxury – it's the foundation that supports everything else in your life.
What are some more PRACTICAL examples of boundaries in relationships?
Now, let's delve into the specific realm and explore some examples of how boundaries manifest in relationships.
Time and Space: Establish a healthy balance between togetherness and personal time. This ensures you both have space to nurture individual interests and recharge.
Emotional Boundaries: Respect each other's emotions and vulnerabilities. Set limits on how much emotional weight you can bear, ensuring you both support each other without becoming emotionally drained.
Respectful Communication: Create a boundary around respectful communication. No name-calling or belittling, fostering an environment of mutual respect and understanding.
Personal Goals: Encourage each other's personal goals and dreams. Boundaries here might involve ensuring that both partners have the freedom to pursue their ambitions.
Privacy: Honor each other's need for privacy. Discuss what boundaries you need around sharing personal information or social media interactions.
So how do you know when you have UNHEALTHY boundaries in relationships?
As we explore the landscape of boundaries, it's essential to recognize the signs of unhealthy boundaries. These might include:
Enmeshment: Losing your sense of self within a relationship.
Isolation: Severing connections with others due to an intense relationship.
Violation: Ignoring personal space and pushing boundaries against someone's wishes.
So what does Setting and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries in Relationships have to do with Music?
As I mentioned in the very beginning of this blog: lately, I've been pondering a common challenge that many people face – the struggle to establish healthy boundaries in relationships. As I've reflected on this topic in recent weeks, a realization has emerged:
Music has been instrumental in helping me
understand better what I want in my relationships
find the right verbiage to clearly communicate about what I want
cognitively reframe disempowering situations by allowing me the creative freedom to take ownership of both the problem and the solution
remind myself to get back on the horse named "stick to your word", even when I fall off
practice repeated emotional, spiritual and mental self care through songwriting
My latest single "Goodbye" is testament to all of these aspects of boundary setting, because the essence of "Goodbye" isn't just about farewells; it's about welcoming a life imbued with positivity and self-growth.
Setting and maintaining boundaries isn't a selfish endeavor; it's a commitment to self-love and growth so that you can show up better for those around you.
So, dear souls, let your boundaries be the guardians of your well-being and the catalysts for the beautiful connections you deserve, and honor those boundaries with your own self-written lyrics.
After all: this is your life. Your album. Your song. By allowing yourself to break your boundaries, or have your boundaries compromised: you're allowing others to dictate what your songs are.
But you have the pen.
If you'd like to learn more about how music and songwriting can facilitate you in your journey to mental-, emotional-, and spiritual- health and wellness - especially when it comes to boundaries - I'd love to hop on a free discovery call with you to discuss more about how I can support your journey.
Simply CLICK HERE to book a time, and let's rewrite the narrative.
I can't wait to speak with you soon.
~ Emma G