The nature of conflict means you can’t set a boundary in your life and take care of someone else’s feelings at the same time. — Martha Beck
Each holiday season is a good time to remember to strengthen our personal boundaries. During this festive time of year, many of us have an extra tendency to take on too much, and over commit ourselves. Sometimes, this is because we are excited about the season and enjoy the gaiety; while other times it is because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, and want to avoid feeling guilty.
Only we can tell the difference within ourselves if we are pleasing ourselves or people pleasing others. If we are engaged in the latter, then it is time to strengthen our boundaries by developing a stronger “no” muscle.
As indicated in my book, it’s actually more loving to have boundaries, be authentic, and take care of our feelings as they arise, as opposed to a passive approach to life. When we don’t speak up for ourselves, it can only breed resentment toward others, and inevitably lead to unloving behavior which is inconsistent with the intention of harmonious living.
Therefore, if what we are being asked to do is not to our liking than we have the freedom to graciously decline the request. We need to remember that we are not responsible for other people’s feelings but are responsible for how we communicate our responses to others.
Similarly, it is important to graciously respect the boundaries of others as well. We may be good at delivering a “no” but not so great at receiving that response from others.
Just as setting loving boundaries with others is a crucial step in self-care, so is setting nurturing boundaries with ourselves as well. Many of us push ourselves beyond the point of what is healthy such as neglecting to put parameters around the number of hours we work or by skimping on sleep.
With that said, below are some wonderful permission slips from Dr. Christiane Northrup, which we can start applying today! The resultant good feelings will create a wonderful ripple effect both within and around us.
- Rest when you need to. If you are tired, give yourself permission to sleep. The dishes, the laundry, and the work you didn’t finish today will still be waiting for you tomorrow.
- Feel joy every day. Paint, sing, dance, play music, and have sex if you so desire.
- Let go of toxic relationships. Toxic people drain you. Work on creating relationships with people who support you as you are.
- Love your body. Stop comparing yourself to the air brushed models in the media. Dress the way you want. Do your hair the way you like it. If this is difficult, do mirror work and tell your body how much you love it.
- Trust your intuition. Step out of your comfort zone and go for whatever feels right – maybe it is a new career path, a new health or fitness program, or simply speaking up when you feel the need.
- Simplify your life. Focus on what truly matters to you. Don’t let yourself get derailed by drama.
- Forgive yourself. Forgiveness is a process. Find time every day to practice forgiveness.
- Say “yes.” Saying “yes” to yourself is empowering. Say “yes” to whatever you want in your life, and say “no” to whatever you don’t want.
- Feel the guilt. Realize that the guilt you are feeling is probably just cultural programming. Thank it for sharing and release it.
- Be yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. You don’t have to fit any cultural mold.
What nurturing choices are you making?