personal · Self Improvement

The Necessity of Boundaries

“Intimacy is impossible without boundaries because if I don’t tell you what’s not okay for me, if I am afraid to say no, then I can’t actually be fully present. I can’t receive what you want to give me because I feel like I need to be dishonest or I have to betray myself in some way.”

Chani Nicholas, on the podcast “Hurry Slowly

I’ve been thinking a lot on the concept of boundaries recently, most obviously inspired by the above quote from astrologer Chani Nicholas. I’m not here to promote anything but her recently released book, You Were Born For This: Astrology for Radical Self-Acceptance is an absolutely incredible tool to compliment her work on her website. I’ve been following Chani for probably a good five years at this point and as time passes, I just drink more deeply from the Cool-Aid. Obviously. I pre-ordered her book along with her 2020 workshop. But my praises of Chani really aren’t why we’re here.

We’re here to discuss boundaries. When I heard Chani’s words about intimacy being impossible without boundaries, I felt like someone flipped a breaker in my brain and a whole section of lights went on suddenly. Of course. How had I never thought of this before?

It’s important to express your expectations.

A long, long time ago, I wrote a three part series on Boundaries & Authenticity. This was genuinely the beginning of my journey with the concepts of setting boundaries, saying “no”, and putting myself first. Vaguely three years later, I’ve gotten pretty good at setting boundaries. Not only are boundaries necessary in order for you to be happy, but they’re necessary to have healthy relationships in your life. As afraid as I am sometimes to tell people what I need or inform them that I would rather not do something, I’m always grateful in the end. My friendships and mental health are better as a result.

If you get upset at someone for saying “no” to you, this might be a sign that you need to take a look at your own life. Do you resent that person for saying “no” because you find it difficult to do? Do you think they shouldn’t prioritize their time over yours because you have a hard time doing that for yourself? These are some questions to consider.

You can be polite and still express what you want.

It was impressed upon me again the importance of being aware of my emotional capacity this past weekend. I was staying with some relatives whose way of life is… extremely different than what I’m used to. I do not do well with men yelling, controlling behaviors, being expected to be around other people the entire time I’m conscious, pro-Trump tirades, or God being held above all. The first two alone were almost perpetually triggering for the entirety of Saturday but it was toned down quite a bit on Sunday. Maybe because it was the Lord’s day. Either way, good lookin’ out, God.

Although I was afraid of being perceived as rude by my relatives, I withdrew when necessary. I listened to my body and slept when I needed to instead of pushing it to make other people happy. Miraculously, I maintained my daily meditation. I made time to go outside and walk, knowing how important movement is for my happiness. The fact that I had just come from frigid 25 degree weather in Michigan to beautiful, sunny 70 degrees certainly helped that one. There were times when I could tell I was being misunderstood: “Is Carly mad or something?” No, sir. Carly just needs her time out.

Somehow, I successfully avoided having a panic attack the entire time, even though there were a few close scrapes. I definitely cried. But I survived. And as I told one of my best friends, there is nothing I wouldn’t endure to make Nicholas happy. I’m just grateful that I had a buddy in crime for the weekend – it would have been extremely difficult without her.

Do you have a hard time setting boundaries? What’s getting in your way if so? Let’s chat.

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