In our 60s, attending to our needs and improving our relationships is more important than ever before. Time is of the essence, but making the most of our time takes practice. One way to enrich our lives is by applying boundaries to accommodate what is essential.
We intentionally mark our choices that honor our values. This article will explore the necessity for boundaries and how this helps us be our most aligned selves.
“No is a complete sentence.”—Anne Lamott
Defining boundaries, bear in mind that we use the word “no” without fear of reactions from others. Your ability to create, set and maintain boundaries originates in your beliefs and values. If you value your wellbeing, you bring your needs into the mix even when others need you to save the day for them.
Indeed, I’m not suggesting we turn our backs on others. However, our behaviors swing back to honor our needs as a priority.
Not too long ago, I needed to create and maintain a boundary with my daughter, who happened to call me at the final hour, requiring me to babysit. Of course, during an emergency, I would be there as best I could. The pattern was that she had not prepared an alternative person to get my grandson off the bus if she would be late getting back from work.
So, on more than one occasion, in came the call, usually while I was still working. If I didn’t answer the phone, I would see her text, and I immediately envisioned my grandchild unattended. It wasn’t fun.
I cleared my schedule and ran to get him. But then it happened again, and I knew I had taught my daughter that I would help at the final hour when she poorly planned. It was time to take out my training and create a boundary.
I needed the courage to accept she might resort to her typical past teenage behaviors and have a verbal meltdown. That usually didn’t end well. I identified my misbelief that being a good mom and nana meant I was there to save the day when needed.
First, I identified my misbelief and my fears regarding her reactions. My boundary to her was a gentle solid statement. “I realize you are accustomed to me being there to help when you need to get Jonny off the bus on short notice. I am responsible for not mentioning I cannot do that. Moving forward, I ask for at least twenty-four-hour notice.”
Her reaction wasn’t ideal, but I knew not to absorb her behavior as being my responsibility. Luckily, I haven’t had to deal with any violations to my boundary, which would have been limiting my availability even more. Maintaining the boundary means saying “no” each time, barring an urgent situation not tied to her poor planning habits.
Creating and maintaining boundaries can be difficult, especially if we allow ourselves to act on our fears. Those we need to set boundaries with are usually not pleased by our statements, and the price of discomfort may be high. Finding our courage and strength to remember that we have been through difficult situations before will help us do it again.
We might have taken the stance of placing others’ requests and their urgency over our own needs. I learned that allowing myself to rescue my daughter by dropping my commitments left me to work longer hours which caused me stress. If I value my wellbeing and honestly believe that I am the only one responsible for caring for me, then my behaviors will reflect those values.
Logical in principle but not always simple to navigate. It takes a mindset shift that committed self-care, including mind, body, spirit, and emotions, is not selfish. It is essential. We choose to care for ourselves by honoring our time and values deliberately. Boundaries bring us closer to those we love, even ourselves, with respect, not fear.
If we are hesitant to dive right into a firm stated boundary, we can start by giving cues or gestures. Facial expressions are a signal to them that confirms our stance. We can also choose not to answer the phone or not reply to the text immediately.
It is beneficial to have supportive relationships to encourage us to honor our well-being. Having friends that remind us that it’s ok not to overextend ourselves is critical. It takes courage to tell others you struggle in this area and ask for support. Our genuine connection with other women is the secret sauce to wellbeing.
When we care for ourselves and others, we can compassionately say no with resolve. There is no need for self-critical judgment. If we toggle between feeling undeserving and knowing we count, it’s time for a mindset shift.
Remember your values and celebrate your unique self. In my morning routine, I remind myself God loves me. God’s love and acceptance bring me great comfort. I tend not to argue with God about this fact. I know God is infinitely wiser than me; I am secure in who I am. This comfort provides permission to have a healthy intimate relationship with myself.
No doubt, relationships can be challenging to navigate. Especially our relationship with ourselves. How do we balance our needs that honor our values and beliefs? Perseverance, open-mindedness, kindness, and loyalty are all values. We often think of our values relating to others. Have we applied values to our well-being?
Boundaries are about knowing when to say yes and when to say no. Healthy boundaries guide us to connect with those we love respectfully. Yes, self-love too! Boundaries open the door for more beneficial relationships that include your voice and your needs. It takes courage to implement and enforce limits so that you can meet your needs.
What are your experiences of creating boundaries? What made the boundaries necessary to establish? Can you share a story where you needed to create healthy boundaries with a friend/family member?