Do you ever wake up feeling great, only for the anxiety of the day ahead to sneak into bed with you?
Or bring a work mistake home, internalizing it until you feel like you can’t do anything well?
Or mindlessly let technology eat up your entire break?
Often the boundaries we need to set are with ourself. Boundaries provide the scaffolding for self-integrity. They have the power to usher us forward when we feel stuck or powerless.
Without boundaries we risk living on autopilot, repeating the same old patterns…
Like over-scheduling ourselves to the point of burnout, without the capacity for creativity, joy and connection.
Or living in a cycle of shame and guilt because we’re not [doing] enough.
Your brain wants to be on autopilot. It’s much more efficient. This is why changing mental and behavioral habits is so hard. And why practicing mindfulness and setting boundaries with ourself is crucial if we want to make a change.
Setting boundaries happens on the ground, in the present, not in the future.
It’s choosing TODAY (not tomorrow) not to check email in bed (or more realistically keeping the phone off and in the other room).
It’s choosing not to work for free, even though answering that client’s question after hours might only take 5-minutes.
It’s choosing to say no, even when we have the time, so that we don’t overcommit.
Inner boundaries also reinforce our ability to stand strong and accepting in who we are — regardless of what’s showing up on the outside or inside.
Worry, overwhelm, self-criticism, fear of things not working out as planned are all normal human experiences that can be paralyzing if we don’t set some boundaries with them.
Here are some boundaries I like to set for myself…I’m far from perfect at it, it’s a practice!
❇️ No, I won’t let mental stress or uncertainty color my self-worth.
❇️ No, I won’t get caught up in the comparison loop.
❇️ No, I won’t check social media, again.
❇️ No, I won’t rush into my day even though I have a lot to do.
❇️ No, I won’t let the anxiety of future unknowns and past mistakes creep in right now, instead I choose to stay close to my body and my breath.
Here’s one last *important* anecdote on boundaries (a lesson I learned the hard way)…
In setting boundaries with ourself, it’s important that we don’t use them to bypass parts of us that need acceptance to heal.
Take this example from my own life:
I first started to doubt myself when I was little, probably 7 or 8 years old. For a long time I would put a wall up against self-doubt, plowing through it toward the next task or accomplishment. But the more I played defense, the more it pushed back.
Now, as an adult, I can (usually) recognize self-doubt as a seed planted long ago that needs to come to the surface and blossom (thank you Thich Nhat Hanh for that analogy).
Self-doubt is a part of my psyche, my inner child, that no amount of proving myself can heal.
There was a point when I realized that I needed to soften and invite it in, I needed to accept it, and in doing so I was accepting myself. I was accepting the little girl inside of me, giving her exactly what she needed.
Now, if self-doubt starts poking at me, the inner boundary is not to box it out with positivity and productivity, but rather to carve out the time to push pause and acknowledge what’s happening. Which for me means taking a few minutes to say (out-loud or in my journal): “I see you, I welcome you, I accept you, AND I don’t believe you”.
This same process can be applied to any inner state that we tend to resist, whether it be anger, sadness, worry, overwhelm, low self-worth, [fill in the blank].
Is there a patterned behavior or thought that you feel is stifling your growth? What boundaries can you set within to stop giving it so much power?
Remember, this is not easy to do, so be gentle and give yourself some grace.
About the Author: Allie Andrews
Allie is the founder/owner of OmBody Health which helps busy people tap into their full potential to live a healthy and meaningful life by learning to mindfully flow between the energies of doing and being. A recovering overachiever and perfectionist herself, Allie is passionate about helping achievers, caregivers and workaholics move self-care from the bottom of their to do list to an integral part of the way that they show up for and relate to themselves everyday. Allie has her master’s degree in education and is a certified health coach and yoga teacher.
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Facebook: Allie Andrews, OmBody Health