Establishing Boundaries: A Way to Show Self-Compassion

self-compassion

Today’s big idea is that establishing boundaries is a huge opportunity to exercise self-compassion. I think for most of us, we think about boundaries primarily as a means of self-protection, which they are, but thinking of them solely that way sort of puts you in a defensive stance, like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish person. And that crouching, put your dukes up stance takes a lot of energy to maintain, even if you’re only doing it psychically. 

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As you go about thinking about what your boundaries are, or what you’d like them to be, thinking of them as an opportunity to show compassion for yourself changes your energy, and makes it more likely that you will set boundaries that actually nourish you, rather then being yet another thing that you need to monitor and protect. 

You with me? 

What does self-compassion even mean? 

I like to think of it as being loving toward yourself. That can look a few different ways. It could be that you’re more accepting of yourself. Or that you are making sure that your own needs and desires are met. Basically, it means treating yourself the way you would treat someone you love and respect very much. 

Boundaries are a powerful way to turn self compassion from a nice idea into a practice. 

I’ve got a fun exercise to get you started

Let’s just imagine that Glinda the Good Witch–from whichever version of the Wizard of Oz resonates with you the most–has just blown in in her bubble. And she tells you that you no longer have to tolerate the things that have been bringing you down. 

What immediately pops into your mind as to what those things are? 

THOSE are great places to draw a boundary around. 

Maybe it’s the way your uncle continually sends you articles to read on why your political opinions are dumb. 

Or the way you keep trying to help someone you care about but it’s wearing you out and you feel unappreciated, wiped out, or perhaps ticked off. 

Or the way a client keeps texting you on nights and weekends and it’s stressing you out. 

Whatever it is, think about what you can do to draw a line on that thing

Do you need to clearly tell your uncle that you don’t want to talk about anything political with him and to please stop emailing you? 

If your knees shake a little at the very thought, remember, this is you being loving toward yourself. Let that steel you to create and then communicate that boundary. 

Daily Tiny Assignment

Your tiny assignment is to ask yourself, what have I been tolerating? Your answer points to an area that is ripe for a little self-compassion. What kind of a boundary could you draw around that? If you’re still not sure about how to do that, my interview with Amy E. Smith on Wednesday and my episode on Thursday about the two basic categories of boundaries will help. Also, positivepsychology.com has a number of awesome worksheets that help you create and communicate your boundaries, go to their website, which again is positivepsychology.com, and search for how to set healthy boundaries. They are not a sponsor, I just love all the resources they’ve created on the subject. 

Come back tomorrow, when I’m dispelling a myth about boundaries, which is that they are confining or restrictive. Quite the opposite, setting boundaries creates freedom. How so? Come back tomorrow.

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