How to Start Setting Boundaries.
"I didn't have the power to say things like no, stop that, it hurts, that isn't nice, don't touch me. But I do now."
Setting boundaries is challenging!
But why? I have a theory as I share some childhood stories with you. I have a feeling you may have some very similar experiences.
When I was a child, our entire family would gather each Sunday. The sound of football games, laughter, and harmless arguing echoed through the halls. The kitchen smelled of delicious food, and the counters held snacks to tide us over until lunch. I loved these lazy days.
As the morning turned into evening darkness, we would gather at the door to say our goodbyes. This meant I would need to hug everyone before I left, even if I did not want to. After all, "we hug family."
When I was about six, a bully decided to latch onto me like Velcro. I had told the teachers many times about this boy. I also spoke to my parents, and no one took me seriously. There were some mean kids in my school. I could even be a mean kid at times, but this kid was dreadful. He said and did the most hurtful things. When I shared my struggles, my teachers and parents said, "He must like you," and "I'm sure he's a sweet kid who doesn't mean anything by it."
This is why learning how to communicate boundaries is essential.
I struggled with articulating what I wanted or needed for the longest time. If I were not comfortable with something, or someone, I would skirt around the issue and mumble my discomfort quietly until it was clear no one cared. When I did manage to assert myself, I'd feel guilty and shame after, like I did something wrong.
The foundation of our boundaries starts when we are too young to understand their importance. Through many experiences like the ones I shared above, I was taught my concerns were unimportant. If it made someone else happy, I should do it and stay quiet. I didn't have the power to say things like No, stop, it hurts, that isn't nice, don't touch me.
So how do we get started?
While resources are fantastic, such as The Boundaries Books, they will only take you so far. For example, you have an entire gym in your house. It isn't going to do anything if you don't put in the work.
Putting in the work can look different for each person. You can try therapy, support groups, community hobbies, meditation, journaling, or self-reflection. For me, healing meant pulling my story into our world through She's Done Pretending. I needed to see my own story in writing to heal because it didn't feel real. It always felt like a bad dream I couldn't shake.
Why am I telling you this?
Probably for the same reason you are still reading. You can relate. That feeling of being misunderstood, lonely, confused about life and all you thought it would be. I've felt that. I was so lonely around the people I called friends and yet was so afraid to speak my mind for fear I would feel even more alone.
If you have felt what I am sharing, I have great news. You may lose some of those people when you start teaching them how to treat you, but what you gain is so incredible you wish you had done it sooner.
Starting this journey is difficult to navigate, but if you continue to connect with me, I will show you how finding your voice can be the most satisfying journey ever.