Preserving Your Energy and Your Well-Being
Are you dreading the upcoming holidays?
All those holiday gatherings. The expectations. The socializing.
Being around friends and family members that might drain your energy or challenge your comfort levels can be anxiety-inducing.
These feelings of dread and anxiety are a clear sign you might be needing to set some boundaries.
But it’s not always enough to simply set a boundary.
We have to learn how to enforce it too.
This can be tough.
But learning how to establish and hold clear boundaries in your life is essential for your personal mental health AND for the health of your relationships.
We’ve touched on the topic of boundaries before, but here, I’d like to take this opportunity to dig a little deeper. Especially with the holidays coming up.
So let’s start with a little refresher:
What boundaries ARE: creating a clear line between us and an action that we are no longer. willing to tolerate
What boundaries AREN’T: controlling another person and their actions.
In her recent book, ‘The Book of Boundaries, Melissa Urban states that “A boundary is about your behavior, not theirs. The boundary isn’t ‘don’t question my decisions’ because that isn’t under my control. Instead, I say, ‘I won’t accept your onions on my decisions’ because that focuses on my behavior, not theirs.”
Boundaries establish which behaviors you will and will not accept from other people, and which behaviors others can expect from you.
Healthy boundaries allow each person in every type of relationship to be able to communicate their wants and needs while respecting the wants and needs of others at the same time.
Current news, politics, and religion are pretty standard talking points among friends and family. Sometimes these discussions can quickly cross the line from civil to combative.
It can be disappointing and even harmful if you discover a family member has an opposing viewpoint about political or social matters. Your first instinct may be to stand up for your opinion or cut the family member out of your life completely — and sometimes there are situations where this can be appropriate.
Having firm boundaries in place in times like these is essential to the health of your mental and emotional well-being.
According to the ‘Book of Boundaries”, these are signs you might need to create a boundary with someone in your life:
Whether it’s about politics, unwanted opinions, unsolicited advice, harmful behaviors, or whatever it is that’s making you uncomfortable — it’s important to clearly and kindly express your needs, how you expect someone to treat you, and the firmness of your decision.
How do we do this you ask?
Let’s get into it!
In her book, Melissa Urban states that there are three steps to setting boundaries:
Urban says, “If a boundary is a line that marks the limits of an area — in this case, your comfort, safety, and mental health — then feeling anxious, nervous, or avoidant of a certain person or a conversation topic is a sure sign that your limits are being overrun and that a boundary is necessary.”
Healthy boundaries begin by identifying which behaviors and actions make you uncomfortable — and ones that make you feel at ease.
Feeling a sense of anxiety and dread with just the idea of hanging out with someone is a clear sign that a boundary is needed.
Your desired boundary could be anything, including a desire for:
Once you’ve identified the boundary, kindly and calmly let whoever you’re setting the boundary with know exactly how you would like to be treated.
Setting boundaries may seem nerve-wracking at first, but clear boundaries can help you feel safe and protected even if others don’t like it or understand why. They don’t need to understand or agree with your boundary in order to respect it.
You have every right to let family members know when you feel that their actions or words are intrusive or things don’t feel appropriate. A boundary is not unkind or selfish. You’re simply letting someone know that you’re no longer willing to tolerate their behavior.
Finally, you need to know what you’ll do if someone can’t respect the boundaries you establish.
As Melissa Urban says in her ‘ Book of Boundaries, “never set a boundary you’re not willing to enforce… in order for it to be effective, it needs to be enforceable, and you have to be willing to enforce it.”
If you’ve set your boundaries, made them clear, re-stated them, and explained the consequences and they’re still not respected — then you must enforce those consequences for your own health and well-being.
This can feel really hard, especially at first. But with practice, knowing how to set and maintain boundaries can help build deeper, stronger, and healthier relationships.
In Urban’s ‘The Book of Boundaries’, she states that:
“Every interaction you have… is an energy exchange. Sometimes those exchanges can leave you feeling invigorated, positive, and restored… but we all know what it feels like to leave feeling depleted, anxious, overwhelmed, and frustrated. This is energy leakage: where your interactions are consuming more energy than they’re giving back.”
If we’re not looking forward to interactions with others, avoiding, numbing, etc… it’s a good indication we’re lacking boundaries with others and may be experiencing an energy leak.
This can be caused by things like:
You can even do this with yourself, says Melissa, “If you find your solo endeavors leave you angry, drained, or depressed, it’s the perfect place to set a boundary with yourself. A loving limit from you to you keeps you safe and healthy.”
A cord is an energetic connection. This can be to another person, place, or even a thing. When you form any sort of attachment to another being, an energetic cord can form between the two of you. The cord is a conduit that allows energy to pass back and forth between you and whoever — or whatever is on the other end.
Sometimes, this energetic exchange isn’t equal. You might feel as if your energy is being siphoned off or that the others’ energy is being infused into your energy body — good or bad.
If we take on too much of this energy, it might make us feel:
That’s why I wanted to provide you with an exercise you can perform to help stop energy leakage in its tracks. It can be helpful to use this exercise before or after identifying, setting, or enforcing a boundary.
By practicing this exercise, you’re not completely cutting this person out of your life. You’re simply cutting the energetic cord that allows negative energy to be passed along to you.
To begin, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.
Imagine an energetic rope or cord tethering you to this person, place, or thing. This cord can be located in your stomach, your solar plexus, your heart space, or anywhere that feels right to you.
Slowly and gently, pull this cord away from your body and your energy field. Imagine yourself gently cutting it — creating total freedom from the energy you wish to be rid of.
Once it has been fully severed, you may then dispose of it in your mind’s eye through any way you choose – perhaps you might bury it under a tree, or let waves carry it out into the ocean.
Take one more deep breath while sending love back their way.
Identifying, setting, and holding clear and firm boundaries is a wonderful way to take care of your mental health and the health of your relationships.
The practice of maintaining healthy boundaries is huge for me in my life. I try and prioritize speaking up when something doesn’t feel aligned, and asking for space and time alone when I need it.
For example, I often let my girls know that I need 30 minutes of alone time to read on the front porch and for them to only come and ask for me if it is completely necessary. I also cherish my morning routine and see that time as a sacred way to start my day. This is why I hold a boundary with myself to wake earlier than the rest of the family and really lean into that time alone.
Holding this boundary gives me what I need for my mental health and well-being.
So I can show up as my best self for the people I love the most.
If you struggle to set or hold your own boundaries, I’d be honored to help support you. Book a complimentary clarity call with me here.