The steps you have taken in the previous months are important for every relationship you will have in the future. After getting to know your Self and realizing that the voice of your inner critic is not your own, you can engage with yourself and with others in a completely new and honest way. In order to keep your Self in a healthy space, to keep your Self from real hurt, you need to develop and maintain boundaries.
Boundaries are your personal emotional rules that separate behaviors that you don’t want, behaviors that harm your Self in one way or another, from behaviors that you are happy with, behaviors that you allow in regards to yourself. The reason why setting boundaries is so essential for self-love is because boundaries are your intimate way of saying: “I know what I want and what I don’t want, and I know that I am worthy of expressing that. I will honor my own needs and wishes, I will communicate them and I have a right to stay away from behaviors that harm me.”
A lack of boundaries is often intertwined with codependency, which essentially shows up as a feeling of being responsible for other people’s emotions and, consequently, that they are responsible for your own. If you have ever felt like it is your job to make another person feel better, like you need to fix them or the situation by being more positive, by saying kind words, by twisting yourself in different ways all for that person, this text is an important step for you towards building your boundaries. When you define your worth in the eyes of others, in the way you make others feel, you are bound to feel exhausted after all the work and effort you put in to make them feel well. And underneath all your work and effort lies a normal need for reciprocity: “Why doesn’t someone do all of this for me?” When you don’t set up boundaries, it becomes a fertile ground for resentment.
Developing boundaries means that you can tell your close ones that you will not allow a type of behavior, showing them that there are other ways they can engage with you. Setting boundaries is you taking control and setting your own standards in life. However, fearing that people might not respect them and reject you, you will be tempted to bend your rules. Nevertheless, once you feel safe with expressing your boundaries, you will also feel safe with the thought of someone leaving. Why? Because you will know, that despite the fear that you will be lonely, you have yourself. Boundaries are here to remind you that you have all that you need right here where you are, inside of you. This is called self-love.
Often times, when we think about boundaries, we think of lines that separate us from others. In one way, this is true, but there are certain boundaries that we can even hold for ourselves. If you have a tendency to push your feelings under the rug, pretending they are not there, for example, by setting a boundary with yourself, you can say: “I am allowed to feel these feelings and I will not let myself hide any more.” If you often stay too long on social media in these days of uncertainty, which causes you distress and anxiety, boundaries are here to say: “I might need to turn off my phone at 8 PM and turn to more calming activities, such as reading poetry, stretching or watching my favorite show.” Boundaries are protection for your Self. Now that you know that there are different parts inside of you that might not always be your true Self, but rather a learned voice, a learned criticism, you can realize how important it is to uphold boundaries for yourself, as well as others around you.
By developing and maintaining boundaries, we face and crush our biggest fear – that others will reject us. Boundaries are a consequence of us deeply understanding that others don’t define us, we define ourselves. Also, boundaries remind us of the greatest and most inconvenient truth of inner emotional life – we are the only ones responsible for our own emotions and we are the only ones that can give ourselves the love and care that we need.
Author: Eva Feldman, as a highly empathetic person and a psychologist, she connects her understanding of the human psyche with spirituality, focusing on consciousness and awareness. Her goal is to share knowledge and passion about human beings in a simple and understandable way, and in that way to contribute to raising awareness in this day and age. Masters degree in Psychology, education in Art Expressive Therapy, as well as personal interests of social justice, mindfulness and Being, make for an interesting addition to her practices of dance, yoga and teaching. She found a purpose in living life fully and encouraging others to do so.
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