Tag Archives: self worth

Setting Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are an interesting topic – we love to talk about them, talk about when other people violate them, and sometimes even acknowledge that we have trouble setting them clearly. But many of us don’t really know methods for setting them effectively.

So we set boundaries awkwardly, aggressively, or not at all.

And then we get angry at, or critical of, ourselves or others for “violating boundaries” that weren’t well expressed in the first place.

setting boundaries can be difficult and awkward, but don't stop

What if we never learned where “I” end and “you” begin?

Maybe no one set healthy limits when we were growing up.  Maybe we didn’t have any effective role models, or maybe we didn’t have support or encouragement. Or maybe we had our boundaries completely violated without our consent.There can be many reasons why we didn’t develop them, but none of those reasons actually help us move forward.

And so we find ourselves unable to say no, unable to accept when good things are meant for us; we find ourselves feeling selfish whenever we think about self-care, or we find ourselves controlling and deciding the needs for others.

But it’s not too late. Because setting healthy boundaries is a skill. It’s a skill that can be learned and adjusted as needed. Our boundaries adapt depending on the situation, yet revolve around our central values.

Boundary work requires practice.  So how do we start? Maybe with these 3 As of healthy boundaries.

The 3 A’s of setting healthy boundaries

1. Awareness

The first step in any healing and learning process is becoming aware of where we currently are, and what we want to learn or heal.  In what situations are you allowing others to control you? In what situations are you trying to control (protect and rescue included!) others?  How does this impact your life?

2. Action

In order to make any changes in our lives, we have to take action. We can be aware of all kinds of things, but unless we take steps to heal and learn new skills, we will get stuck just living in the same routine.  What new steps can you take today to make changes?  And can you allow yourself to do these steps imperfectly as you practice and learn?

3. Acceptance

If you have trouble letting go or saying no, then you have to know that about yourself, and be gentle with yourself.  Learning a new skill isn’t easy – imagine you were going to start learning the piano today… would you be a master of it tomorrow?  Accept that this is an area of work in your life, and promise to be kind to yourself, and others as you practice.

You teach people how to treat you.

Teach them well.


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It’s Not Personal

To Sarah, it seemed like everyone woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.  Her boss was snappy, giving orders to make some changes to a project without even a hello. Two of her coworkers greeted her “Good Morning” with a point to their earphones.Someone even gave her outfit for the day a scowling once-over. She knew it was going to be a rough day.

Frustrated Woman photo by John De BoerAnd it was. Bickering started with the person in the next cubicle – via email.  Someone decided they liked the looks of her sandwich, and it disappeared from the fridge. Then the cherry-on-top of this soul-sucking day was in a department meeting, when blame for a failed project (disguised as accountability) started getting tossed around the table like a hot potato.


So how does Sarah, this enlightened fictional woman, deal with this day?  How does she not absorb all of the swirling negativity, the anger, the tossed about attempts to create shame?

When the world is swirling around you in a negative way, it’s hard not to absorb it.  But you can, with one simple reminder.

It’s not about you.

None of these events need to be taken personally.  In this scenario above, none of these people are even thinking about Sarah, and in your life, they typically aren’t thinking of you either.  These people are thinking about themselves.

Lost in thought photo by Martin WallsPeople are scowling because of their own internal dialogue, their own feelings of low self-esteem, of dissatisfaction, of disappointment.  People disengage with the humans around them because of a drive for task achievement. People hurl blame out of their own fear of rejection, of conflict, or of insecurity.

It’s about them – the things they are going through, the experiences they are living and have lived.  It’s about how they feel about themselves at this very minute.  It’s about how their mother spoke to them last night on the phone.  It’s about how they messed up at home and fought with the kids. It’s about how they don’t feel peaceful, joyful, or filled with love.

It’s about their tough day, and it doesn’t have to be yours.

So how does Sarah make it through the day?

Awareness. She lets it all go.  She sees each person as trying to deal with their own path in this life, and she knows that it doesn’t have to color hers.  She takes a deep breath, exhales the negativity, imagines a bubble of light surrounding her, and she treats herself to a special lunch. She makes it through her day at work, and then surrounds herself with positivity – friends, family, online support, books, shows… connection – any chance she gets.

All the while remembering it’s about them. It’s not personal. It could be directed at anyone (it often is), and it says nothing about Sarah’s like-ability, her capabilities, or her worth.  She let’s them own their own behaviors; she lets them be responsible for their own way.

And that night in her prayers, she asks the Creator for these cranky, scared, insecure, imperfect people to be blessed as they each travel their own, very difficult, roads.

And she asks for a new chance to shine light tomorrow.

at sunset photo by sanja gjenero