Tidy Up Your Boundaries
In my previous post, “Finding My Voice after Years of Neglect,” I briefly described some of my struggles throughout life to find the power in my self-expression. However, the story doesn’t end there. In this post, I explain how finding my voice started with establishing boundaries: first with other people, then with myself.
Setting boundaries was, and continues to be, a process for me. It’s one of those things when you wake up one day and decide something has to change.
You might look around your environment and decide, “I need to clean up this house. I need to set up environmental in spatial boundaries.”On a side note, I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. She outlines how to set spatial boundaries at home through the act of tidying up. Sometimes we’re not ready to tackle boundary issues with people or ourselves, and channeling that energy into our physical spaces clears the blockage and allows us to move forward into the more tricky territory of relationships.
Make Some Adjustments
In the context of relationships, finding your voice might require you to make minor or major adjustments.
As empaths, we tend to nurture complex, and sometimes codependent, relationships with friends and family. We empaths love to connect deeply with people. In some cases, we can become deeply enmeshed in other people’s lives because of that desire for a soul connection and oneness with others. However, this intense desire for connection can cause us to attract relationships that violate our boundaries.
In these unhealthy relationships:
- You tend to give more than you receive.
- You over identify with other people’s problems.
- You attract people with unresolved issues and expend too much of your energy trying to “fix them.”
- You attract energy vampires who feed on your deep emotions and caring nature.
- You feel taken for granted because you make yourself too available.
The list goes on and on, but you get my gist.
And through it all, your voice becomes smaller and more quiet as you absorb inconsiderate treatment and accept what others would deem unacceptable. Your ability to express yourself in this state diminishes because you are afraid to lose the connection to the relationship you deem vital, where in reality, it is draining your life force. You care more about the other person and what she or he thinks of you rather than what you think of yourself.
Realize Your feelings do matter!
The first step to regaining your voice is to acknowledge that your feelings do indeed matter. It matters if your boyfriend is always late for a date and infringes upon your time. It matters if you feel hurt when your coworker steals your ideas without giving you credit. Your feelings matter when your friend consistently makes little digs at you that undermine your confidence.
Your feelings matter!
Now, what are you going to do about it?
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When you are ready, you start establishing boundaries.
In some cases, depending upon your level of enmeshment, establishing boundaries won’t feel good at first. In fact, you might feel like you are making a sharp departure from your normal way of relating:
- When you reluctantly decline to take another work project that will set you further behind your deadline.
- When you say you made other plans after a friend, who recently flaked out on you, proposes a last-minute outing.
- When you decline purchasing a product you don’t want or need from a friend.
- When you decline a last minute date from a guy you’ve been talking to.
- When you stop going out of your way for a coworker who never reciprocates.
As you begin standing up for yourself even, in these relatively quiet ways, you will feel uncomfortable and even downright mean! But believe me, you are not being mean. You are a rational individual who puts yourself first in the most balanced way.
When you start establishing your boundaries and you start saying no to unloving treatment, you begin to say yes to yourself and recover that strong voice you were on the verge of losing.
Now you can start saying yes to things that actually matter to you:
- Healthy, balanced relating.
- Reciprocal friendships.
- Considerate lovers.
- A more even balanced work load.
You might even go as far as to say yes to :
- Dusting off that business idea you put on the back burner because of your obligations.
- The time to write the poetry you didn’t have time for before.
- Taking that class that will advance your career.
Finding your voice does not have to be this loud ostentatious event. It’s as simple as saying no and making a few adjustments in how you relate to others.
What are some of the ways you’ve begun to find your voice? Did your actions feel like they went against your normal personality? Why or why not?