Setting boundaries is something I learned a lot about in my late teenage years when I was working as a therapeutic support worker in summer camps for “difficult children.” You see, a lot of these challenging children (they quickly get stigmatized as aggressive, hyperactive, depressive…) have a problem with understanding boundaries.
When is it not funny anymore? When is it not play fighting anymore? When does it start to hurt? What does enough food mean, when are you really full? When is the time to ask for help?
There’s one key question here: “When/what is enough?”
And to be honest, I am not trained enough to develop some cool theory around that, however, what I have noticed is, that ADULTS struggle with setting personal boundaries as well. You see, those kids just have it a little worse that you and me. Let me give couple of examples you can probably relate to better:
You allow the pressure & stress of work enter your “off time” and vice versa. During the period where you should be intensely focused on the work at hand, you think about your partner or that hot chick from last night. When you are just having lunch you don’t even think about the taste of food but just stay thinking about how to solve that work problem better.
You say “yes” to people even when you really want to say “no”. A friend asks you for a favor, and you say yes, even though you have quite enough things on your plate already. You fantasize about just having a few hours off, maybe to go to sauna, to watch a movie. But you say “yes”, help out your friend, and shoot yourself in the foot.
Your body feels tired and weak. You still go to the gym because it’s on your gym plan. You push yourself really hard. You are completely destroyed the next day, maybe you even get sick.
Understanding & setting boundaries is a lifetime skill. Obviously, you have to go over the line sometimes, to know where the line is. But once you discover the line, fight for it. Don’t let other people, fears, random events push you over the line.
The takeaway? Allow yourself to think and reflect about boundaries. When is it enough for you? Test around, play around, be vulnerable to the line. Go around it, go past it, feel it. And once you establish it, make it into titanium wall.
Much love & peace,