Boundaries are essential for joy.
But, let’s start with how we define boundaries. There are lots of boundaries: physical, emotional, mental, and many more. For the sake of this short-ish blog post, think of boundaries like a fence with a gate. The fence allows you to keep people or things out of your emotional space, but the gate allows people in. Sometimes, the fence breaks, and you have to repair it so it works again. Sometimes, the gate is left wide open, and you have to shut it. Boundaries are ever changing, but you are the one who gets to decide.
Boundaries ebb and flow depending on where we are in our own lives, and where our relationships are as well. Embracing this ebb and flow is essential to creating a life of joy.
Joy is a state of mind that allows us to appreciate the good things in life and to find pleasure in the present moment. However, when we lack boundaries, we can experience brain chaos that can make it difficult to experience joy.
What happens if we don’t have boundaries?
One of the ways that the lack of boundaries can affect joy is by causing us to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Without clear boundaries in place, we may find ourselves taking on too much responsibility, saying yes to everything, and neglecting our own needs. This can lead to feelings of burnout, exhaustion, and resentment, all of which can make it difficult to experience joy.
A lack of boundaries can affect joy by preventing us from living in alignment with our values and priorities. When we don't set clear boundaries, we may find ourselves compromising our values and making decisions that are not in our best interests. This can lead to feelings of guilt, regret, and dissatisfaction, all of which can make it difficult to experience joy.
To experience joy, it's important to set and enforce boundaries in our lives. This means learning to say no when we need to, setting clear expectations with others, and prioritizing our own needs and values. By doing so, we can create a sense of balance and control in our lives, which can lead to greater happiness and well-being.
Three quick questions to ask yourself to increase boundaries in your life:
Is this my job?
We can get all up in people’s lives, trying to fix the junk that isn’t ours to fix. We put on our cape and leap to the rescue. But here’s the thing: did anyone ask you to do that thing and is it even your job? There’s a fine line between being kind and fixing other people’s junk. By getting intentional, stop the reactionary action and ask yourself, “is this my job?” will slow down the brain chaos for you to make an informed decision.
What are my expectations?
This simple question can help you put boundaries in place pretty easily. As a reminder, boundaries are for you, not the other person, and setting expectations for yourself will make them much easier to keep. Have a family member that texts nonstop? Let them know that you will only answer texts once a day, or when you can. While this doesn’t keep them from texting, it does give yourself “permission” to not respond. Or, even better, block them or turn off notifications until you’re ready to communicate.
Why am I saying “yes”?
After years of no boundaries, “yes” can be an automatic response. You don’t even think about it anymore, it just comes out when someone asks you to do something you really don’t want to do. Pause before agreeing to things. Sounds simple, but it can be more difficult when that “yes” is so automatic. Practice saying things like, “let me get back to you on that”, or “I need to check my calendar”. The practice will reroute the automatic “yes” into something different.
We think putting boundaries into place should be simple. The reality is that it takes intentionality and practice. Relationships will change, and people will be confused by them, which is hard. But, in my experience, the majority of the relationships will grow stronger with boundaries. And if they don’t, they’re not really the people you need in your life anyway.