When we set a boundary in our life, be it with another person or with the way we live our lives, we are drawing a line in the sand and setting a limit.
We are saying a “no” to something that has presented itself to us.
And, with mindfulness, we can look at how we set boundaries and if we are drawing these lines in the sand in a healthy way.
That is, every time we say “yes” to something, we say “no” to something else. So how do we know where to set our boundaries?
Living our Values
We know where to set our boundaries, when we know our values and priorities.
With each line we draw in the sand, we can ask: Does this reflect what is most important to me in my life?
If your friend asks you to babysit their child, what do you say?
-Do you say yes because you value helping your friend and enjoy babysitting?
-Do you say yes because you are afraid you will lose them as a friend if you do not?
-Do you say no because you have plans to spend a date night with your significant other?
-Do you say no because you are angry with this friend and want to get back at them?
When we set our boundaries, we need to check-in with our values first.
Am I setting this boundary from a place of love or from a place of fear?
Try noticing how you are setting boundaries in your life and what values are reflected in each of your choices.
Most people think of boundary setting in terms of relationships, and this is a good place to start looking at your boundary setting habits.
Let’s say your partner comes home and is upset about something. You too are tired and just want to relax. Your first reaction is to back away from their issues and just worry about yourself. However, they are looking to you for support.
What do you do?
There’s no right or wrong here, but it is a good example of being mindful of your intention when setting boundaries.
-You could listen to them and try to help them because you don’t think your own issues are important.
-You could ignore them and tell them you don’t want to deal with their issues in order to protect yourself.
-You could be honest and share how you are feeling, tell them you care about how they are feeling, and agree to do something peaceful together.
With mindfulness, we look within and notice where we are really coming from.
If we say “no” because we are angry, hurt, or scared, or “yes” because we are sad or afraid, and we are not honest about how we are feeling, we are probably not setting boundaries from a place of our true values.
Setting a boundary from love takes courage, honesty, and clear communication. But in the grand scheme of things, what is best for you and the other person?
A Life of Loving Boundaries
As with relationships, boundaries show up in all aspects of our life. We only get so much time on this planet and so much time every day, how do we want to spend it?
Again, come back to your values to see how you are living your life.
Is there something in your life you are saying yes to that you would rather say no to?
Is there something in your life you are saying no to that you want to say yes to?
Is fear dictating our life choices, or is Love?
Try this for a fantasy question: If you had no fear at all in your life, how would you live?
As we practice mindfulness and get more in touch with our values, we may notice our priorities and what we say “no” to change.
We may become more open to certain people or experiences and start saying “no” to others.
This is part of the process.
When we set boundaries with love, we let in that which is in line with our values, and say no to that which does not resonate.
In some cases this might look like being more open, honest, and vulnerable with people we trust and letting go of relationships where it is easy to just play it safe.
Ultimately, we get to choose where we draw the line.
With mindfulness we reflect on our intention behind our boundaries and start setting ones that serve our purpose and values in life.
Until next time,
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with anxiety and could use the support of a professional, it would be an honor to be of service. I offer Therapy for Anxiety and Mindfulness Workshops in Oakland, California.
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