Sometimes I wish I could go to the grocery store, buy a package of boundaries in bulk, walk out with a serene smile—and feel forever strong, grounded and firm, as I stand proudly in the golden light of my truths.
Sometimes, I wish they sold boundaries on Amazon for the low, low price of $9.99 (including shipping, of course!).
Well, we can dream on, right?
‘Cause the gritty truth is—we’ve gotta get our hands dirty and build those boundaries ourselves. No one can do it for us. No one can tell us how. There are no shortcuts and there are no easy answers. We—and we alone—have to do the work.
But in a way, isn’t that beautiful?
Because we have the power—we always did. So let’s use it.
And yes—oh yes—it can feel overwhelming to know that we actually do have power.
For me, learning to set boundaries hasn’t been pretty—or easy. And I’m still not great at it, but it has been delicious—a strange journey, a messy, wild ride, complete with epic f*ck-ups and terrible failures and deep learning and yes—a few sweet successes that feel amazing and strong, like learning how to stand on my own two feet in a completely new way. Those little successes shine proudly in my heart’s front pocket.
Because I remember a time, not long ago, where I was the queen of no boundaries. I was the girl who everyone described as “too nice.” The girl who would let people walk all over her, day in and day out, falling asleep with tears in her eyes each night. The girl who would do anything, even if it hurt like hell, just to make someone else smile. The girl who played small, saying so well what other people wanted to hear.
And sure, maybe I was too nice, but really—I just wasn’t nice enough to myself.
Finally, I realized that was not even remotely okay, decided to kiss my doormat days goodbye, and I got to work on building boundaries, brick by brick.
At first, the only way I could set boundaries was to run away. If someone started to walk on me, treat me like sh*t or violate me energetically—I’d run like the wind. I’d run fast and far, going to great lengths to avoid the crippling awkwardness that comes along with bringing up a conversation that is really real—not all rainbow fluff and sunshine.
Boy oh boy, I had no idea it would feel so shockingly vulnerable to voice my needs. But it is such a deeply tender moment when we find the inner strength to look someone in the eyes say—
“I need this.”
“That is not okay.”
And yet, the very tenderness that makes speaking up so scary is also what gives us power—the power to not be fully responsible for someone else’s feelings, which means that we finally have to be responsible for our own.
I can’t help but sing that out loud–-when we stop being responsible for everyone else’s feelings, we finally have to do something much, much braver—be responsible for our own feelings.
That is easily the most empowering thing we could ever do.
So, how the hell do we set boundaries? Well, it’s up to you to figure out the “how.” But, I will say this—before we set boundaries, we have to be very clear about what feels okay to us and what doesn’t. We’ve gotta do a little soul-searching. Asking questions can be a really, really powerful way to start. So before we go out there in the world and try to throw down boundaries left and right, like an overly excited ninja who just learned a crazy awesome new kick-punch combination—let’s stop. And breathe. And get deliciously centered.
If it feels right to you, I’d recommend sitting down for half an hour, having a cup of tea, grabbing a pen and paper, going through these questions with yourself and jotting down what comes to mind. Go slowly. Graciously. Gently. If you feel overwhelmed, just pick one question to play with for now.
Let’s get ready to kiss our doormat days goodbye, hold our truth close and see the beauty in boundaries, baby—boundaries!
Asking these questions aloud to ourselves can help us see even deeper:
What are some behaviors of others that make me feel small, walked-on, infringed upon and uncomfortable? How do I react in those moments? How could I better support myself in those situations?
What are some ways I treat myself that make me uncomfortable? How would I like to treat myself? How could I remember to do this, every day? (Uh-huh, we often need to set boundaries with ourselves, too!)
Is there someone in my life who feels toxic, draining, exhausting or who constantly puts me down? How could I speak up about my concerns and deal with this person in a way that honors my strength? Or, do I need to walk away from this relationship?
What are my non-negotiable needs—the things that I absolutely require from my relationships, the things that are truly important to me, the things that make me feel loved, safe, appreciated and cared for? Make a list. Honor it fiercely, like a mama lioness protecting her baby lion cubs.
What are some activities/creative hobbies/exercises I already do (or used to do) that make me feel safe, strong and grounded? How can I bring more of that energy into my life?
What do I need my boundaries to look like? What do they feel like, sound like? What color are they? Are they thick or soft, tight or brittle? How far outward do they extend from my body? Tune into your intuition and draw a detailed picture in your mind’s eye.
What would it look like for me to be empowered? To stand in my truth, to speak up, to be who I really am? Is there any sensation or emotion in my body associated with empowerment? Is there any word, sound or image that feels empowering to me?
The great thing is—there are no right or wrong answers. Boundaries will look completely, beautifully different for each one of us. It’s really about discovering what feels right and safe and awesome—for you.
Be patient with yourself. Experiment. Explore. Laugh, cry, make some mistakes and—why the hell not—have a little fun!
There are a million ways to speak our truths and make our needs known—loudly, softly, fiercely, sweetly, unapologetically.
Each one is beautiful.
With each shaky, proud and exciting step we take towards building boundaries, we are beginning to honor the truth of who we really are.
We are honoring our sacredness. Our inner light. Our beauty. Our power.
And by honoring ourselves deeply, we honor others in a new way—a healthy way.
Because sometimes, we really do just need to say a heartfelt, “F*ck you.”
And believe it or not—it’s healthier for us—and the other person involved.
We do not benefit anyone by being a doormat.
We benefit everyone, including ourselves, by having strong boundaries.
Cheers to that!
Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina