“Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.” – Shannon Alder
Boundaries are essential to having healthy relationships at home and work. In working with hundreds of women over the years, I’ve noticed two things:
1. when we aren’t thriving it’s often because we have compromised on our healthy boundaries.
2. when we sacrifice our self-care and compromise our boundaries, we get resentful. That resentment can create riffs between us and our dear ones. It also can leave us feeling guilty, our minds constantly questioning ourselves, and our hearts being pulled in different directions. And that is exhausting.
We might find ourselves lashing out over seemingly little things. We might find ourselves saying things to ourselves like, “Ughhhhhh. It’s always all up to me!” We might find ourselves feeling like we are “victim to circumstance.” And we might find ourselves sighing a lot.
“NO is a complete sentence.” – Anne Lamott
When we DO establish and honor healthy boundaries which include self-care, we literally carry ourselves differently. We begin to stand taller. Our voices carry more confidence. We stand by our convictions and we learn to trust in ourselves. We keep our interactions with others clear. We practice radical self-responsibility, meaning, we don’t wait for others at home or work to identify what we need and care for us – we take responsibility for naming what we need, claiming our self-worth, and communicating with our families and colleagues in ways that are self-regarding.
We as women aren’t often taught how to work with boundary-setting in our personal and professional relationships. And to be honest, quite often our boundaries have been violated in some way in our lives. Over time, we have learned to neglect or even negate ourselves.
Well, enough of that.
We as women are rising. We are rising in our power and wisdom. And in order to rise, thrive, and share our genius, talents, light, and charisma with the world, it’s essential that we strengthen our ability to set healthy boundaries.
It’s my passion to support women in building and strengthening their “healthy boundary setting” habit so they embody their feminine power, their confidence and self-trust deepen, and, really, so they are lighter, happier, and more joy-filled as they go through the day.
I want to share with you four powerful ways to build your “healthy boundary setting” habit that I share with my Compassion Coaching and psychotherapy clients. When I first led a workshop on healthy boundary setting at Georgetown University for faculty and staff as our monthly Mind-Body Connection workshop, people asked for another one.
These are practices that come from my experience as a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner, life-long practitioner of mindfulness, and my commitment women embodying their power.
Here are Four Essential Ways Wise Women Set Healthier Boundaries:
1. A Wise Woman practices radical self-responsibility.
She does away with the “blame game.” Yes, she has been hurt by others. Yes, she been rejected and been dumped. The actions of others weren’t her fault. However, she does recognize that how she responds to what happens in life is her responsibility. How she tends to herself with gentleness, kindness, and regard is her responsibility. She doesn’t make that anyone else’s responsibility. A wise woman doesn’t wait to be rescued. She takes responsibility for her healing, rising, and thriving. She takes time out to heal, to get focused and clear, to gain inner strength, and to call on the resources that can hold space for her. She commits to self-regard.
2. A Wise Woman tunes into her body.
Ohhh our bodies, dear sisters. How we so need to heal our relationship with our bodies. We need to go back to the basics and learn to trust our bodies once again. How we fell out of trust isn’t our fault. Do I need to even go into the kinds of unhealthy messages this world sends us as women about our bodies?! Disconnecting us from our bodies through shame, trauma, and objectification is the biggest power-play our world has done over the centuries. Why? Because a woman who is connected to and trusts her body is a woman who embodies an incredible inner power. And that often threatens the male “powers that be.”
A wise woman begins to reestablish a loving connection with her body. She learns over time to tune into her body and trust the messages her body is sending her. She actually begins to see those messages from her body as wisdom. She knows this is slow work. But she commits to working with her body rather against it. She learns that her body is her powerful ally.
3. A Wise Woman will sit before she commits.
Everyone who works with me in coaching has heard the mantra I use with people in personal and professional settings before I say “yes.” Whether someone asks me to be on a board of trustees, volunteer to teach children about mindfulness, give a talk on women’s empowerment, or join in a collaboration, I listen to what someone is asking me and then I say this: “LET ME SIT WITH THAT.”
I do not commit on the spot. This enables me to sit back, reflect on my energy and time, identify if the request is aligned with my values and work, and “feel into” whether it’s what I want to do right now or not. Use this as your own mantra. I am telling you, it’s a game-changer for when someone surprises you and asks you, “Can you …..?” And you just keep repeating, “Let me sit with that.” It will buy you time to discern in your own time and space whether that option depletes you or serves you.
4. A Wise Woman knows her non-negotiables.
In any business deal, a wise leader clearly has identified her non-negotiables – what she will not compromise on. We can do the same in our personal lives. Before Brian and I got married, we talked about what matters most to each of us. We identified our two non-negotiables based on our values. This helped us to get very clear about what was most important to us and it established a strong foundation between us.
Later on in our marriage, as we had children and began to feel the pressures on family life to hold incredibly busy schedules and how easy it would be to swept away by the pace our world would have us go at, Brian and I identified our family’s non-negotiables. Here are some of them:
– Sports do not come before church.
– We actually sit down and at least eat three dinners a week together. Whether that’s for just five minutes at 4:50 pm because we are going to an activity, we will sit down. At the table. Together.
– Our priority is actually SEEING each other and spending time together. This has meant saying “no” to incredible professional opportunities because it would take away too much of our time together as a family. And even though our children are older now, we protect “bedtime” as a sacred time for us to connect at the end of the day.
Dear sister, each of us is a wise woman. And we can learn to strengthen our habit of healthy boundary-setting. Bringing these four essential ways of setting healthy boundaries into our everyday relationships will help us get clear and stay devoted to what matters most to us. When we keep these ways in our minds and hearts throughout the day, a deeper sense of self-trust and confidence grow. And we find ourselves beginning to rise in our authentic power.
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