When you grow up a perfectionist, people-pleaser, and a good girl, you discover that you lose your sense of power and uniqueness. Your voice gets lost. Anger and frustration builds because you find yourself in situations where you don’t belong. Being liked is more important than tending to your own needs. Even saying the word “need” out loud feels weak. Outside recognition is what you live on, it convinces you of your own worthiness. The external world’s opinions are what matters most.
I discovered that when I went outside for validation, I was disappointed. A way to reclaim my power was to set clear boundaries in all areas of my life. It’s a skill I’ve worked on for awhile. What prompted my self-exploration was the lack of fulfillment in my professional and personal life. No matter how much effort I put forth, I felt lost and unsatisfied. I was not happy with my results or with me.
Action was taken—I decided to focus on my inner game—which led to clarity and transformation. I felt my hesitancy to ask for help, say no, or express how I was really feeling. I became aware of many instances when I betrayed myself. I stayed in relationships that were long over, waited for that promotion to validate me, and took on more responsibility than I could handle.
Dedicated time and self-awareness supported my growth and learning about boundaries. In the past, when I thought about boundaries, words came up such as wall, closed, and protection. Boundaries were a way of keeping people out. However, through my own experiences, I found that to be the farthest from the truth. I now think about boundaries quiet differently.
When your boundaries are strong, you create honest, healthy, and meaningful relationships. You find your voice and share it with others. You teach others on how to treat you. It’s having the courage to stand up for your own wellbeing and knowing your limits. Setting boundaries is an inside job. I find what happens on the outside reflects how we feel within. We are not entirely conscious or self-aware of our own sabotaging thoughts and behaviors. It’s not fair to expect others to fulfill your needs. That’s a ton of responsibility that you are putting on other people. Tom Cruise’s line, “you complete me,” from the movie Jerry Maguire, is quite misleading. People can add to your life, but can’t be your life. If you are waiting for others to satisfy your needs, I guarantee you will be disappointed by the outcome. Once I took ownership of my needs, I started to fill up my own tank, speak up, and honor myself. Only then did I start creating healthier, authentic relationships and found myself in beneficial personal and professional situations.
It’s insightful how Iyanla Vanzant, an inspirational author and life coach, defines boundaries in her book, Trust: Mastering the Four Essential Trusts. She states, “For the purpose of cultivating self-trust, the boundary line is the one you create for yourself, within yourself, and around yourself to keep yourself safe… A boundary is a demonstration of self-respect and respect for others.”
Begin to look at how you are operating in your relationships with others and answer the following questions:
Are you giving away your power and not speaking up?
Are you saying “Yes” when you really mean “No”?
Are you agreeing to things that you just don’t want to do?
Are you always worried about what the other person is doing?
Do your needs take a back seat most of the time?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, examine your boundaries with yourself and others. Notice how you are showing up in your relationships. Especially look at how you are showing up for yourself. You are worth the time to explore your boundaries. Be an advocate of you. Start to be your biggest supporter and best friend.
Crista Salvatore, Founder of Spark Truth LLC. firstname.lastname@example.org
Committed to creating cultures of wellbeing, where businesses thrive.