There are times when I think it would be soooo cool to have a few extra hours in the day. You know what I mean? I sometimes get so overwhelmed with all the things there are to do as a therapist, business owner, blogger, mom, and just basic human being. I’m sure you know the feeling too. So, today, I want to write about physical boundaries.
What are Physical Boundaries?
There are different types of boundaries, but the boundaries that contribute to our overall sense of busyness and stress tend to be physical boundaries. In my last post I mentioned that boundaries simply represent what’s okay for us and what’s not- what we can take on and what we can’t/don’t want to/shouldn’t/etc. When I talk about physical boundaries, I’m talking about our physical capacity to do certain things. To determine that, we have to consider our energy reserves and our to-do lists, along with just how much of our physical selves we are willing to give to another person. How much of our own energy and resources can we give to others without resenting them? And do we even want to? Keep in mind we are allowed to say no, and, in fact, it’s crucial to our own well-being to say no from time-to-time (Hint: it’s probably better to do this more often than not.)
Deciding When to Set a Boundary
So, let’s say a friend of mine asks me to help her with a project. I need to consider my own tasks for that day or that week and how helping her will impact my ability to complete them. Also, how high of a priority are my obligations? Maybe, I’m happy to put my to-do list off. It’s possible helping my friend comes as a welcomed distraction because, ya know, I am a bit of a procrastinator. But if my to-do list is a high priority, I need to think about whether or not I’ll resent my friend later if I agree to help.
Another thing to consider is my own energy level and where I am with my own self-care. Do I have a full tank, or am I running on empty? A good gauge of this for me personally is my initial feeling when my friend asks me to help her. Is there instant dread? Do I immediately feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed? Or do I feel excited (or even just neutral) when I think about helping? These feelings matter, you guys! We have to trust our instincts. Another big factor to be aware of is whether I want to say no but feel guilty or obligated to say yes. That’s a big red warning flag that I’m in danger of overlooking my own needs and probably should consider setting a boundary at that time.
You might be wondering at this point, how we go about setting boundaries in our life. Start by asking yourself the basic question of whether something is what you want or not. Before I even think about my energy or my to-do list, I ask myself if I’m even interested. If it’s not something you want, try saying no. It will be a huge struggle at first. The first few times you do it, you will probably try to justify your decision. Just remember, you can be a good person and still say no. You can love people and appreciate having them in your life and still say no. It just takes a little practice. Try it with something small today. Maybe your spouse wants Thai food for dinner, and you’d normally agree even though you’re not a fan. Today, take some deep breaths and set a boundary. Go for pasta instead. 😉
Tuning into yourself this way and understanding your own needs and emotions may take some time and practice. You’re in luck! There are blog posts coming that will help you do just that! Stay tuned and sign up for my newsletter that will keep you in the know about future posts! In the meantime, if you want to learn more about physical boundaries and their impact on your relationship, check out my new ebook The Intimacy Secret: Nurture Yourself and Connect with Your Partner