A life of fulfillment often does not equate to how much money you have in your bank account or how many friends you have. The titles behind your name, often desired and a symbol of hard work and dedication, is not a one way stop to feelings of joy and gratitude. High-achieving people often face the realities of voluntary long work days, limited time with friends and family and countless sacrifices in order to reach your goals. Overtime this takes a toll on our wellbeing. So the question is, how do we make sure our mental, emotional and physical states are still intact at the end of our journey? The issue is progress is often overseen because we are too burnt out to even acknowledge how far we’ve come. Setting boundaries, although not a quick fix, is a great start to ensure all the pieces of your life are tightly bound together and benefiting you in such a way that success no longer corresponds with the constant debilitation of self-deprivation.
First things first, you must establish what’s important to you. Ask yourself what your personal needs and desires are. Realistically, if you couldn’t without one thing, what would that be?
Maybe you have a longing for a sense of community through friendships, relationships and family. Maybe you flourish through self-expression; music, arts, writing and or travel. Or maybe having lots of money to spend on cars, a big house and a closet full of designer clothes is what is most important to you. Whatever it may be, you have to be honest with yourself; this is your starting point. This is the process of becoming self-aware. Fully understanding who you are and what you stand for. Define your value. Once you narrow-down your values and interest you must come up with a plan that establishes boundaries. How will you define your value? Think of it as a pair of your favorite jeans. Would you let just anyone borrow these jeans? Probably not. Would you let someone damage and destroy these pairs of jeans? Would you strip them of their value though overuse and or neglect? Absolutely not. Think of your values and interest as your favorite pair of jeans, or your favorite equivalent. Your values and Interest are what make you special. If you don’t protect and take care of yourself, you can’t expect others to do the same.
An important part of setting boundaries is no longer allowing others to take advantage of you. Women in the workplace commonly feel that we have to overcompensate and overextend ourselves to prove or worth, especially in a male-dominated field.
The power of saying No. A two-letter, one syllable word has the power to make or break your wellbeing. Women need to start saying no. Again this comes only after becoming self-aware. Fully understanding your worth gives you the power to recognize toxicity. Self-confidence gives you the voice to stand up for yourself. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional woman, you have to be strong-minded and know what you want and know what you stand for. Saying no, not only keeps others in check, but keeps you self-accountable to boundaries you established for yourself.
Similarly, women must stop making excuses for other shortcomings for fear of retaliation. This is commonly seen in two different ways. First, women often make excuses for their superiors. They aspire to have their position of power and prestige so in times of disagreement, women avoid any confrontation interactions that may jeopardize their promotion. All this does is diminish all self-repeatability. The reality is, if these superiors are already taking advantage of you in your current position, they are unlikely to ever give you a chance of pursuing equal status with them. The second way this is commonly seen is among two people with established familiarity. A good friend that you’ve known for several years suddenly stabs you in the back. You don’t act on it and instead blame the occurrence on external factors. You say things such as, “oh, they are just going through a hard time” or “this isn’t like them”. Choosing to view these situations in this way is much easier than actually addressing one’s real character. All this does is leave the door right open for a similar situation to occur again.
A great way to establish healthy boundaries is to surround yourself with people who have the same values and beliefs. Those with the same boundaries as you will support you instead of work against you. In order to create this supportive circle you must first eliminate anyone and anything that does not align with your values. This is definitely easier said than done. When we have spent years in a self-destructive state it can become very eye opening when we begin to become more self-aware of our surroundings. Often this means you will be doing a lot more eliminating than establishing friendships. But focus on the positive. Once you remove those objects that have been holding you back you open up space for those who will pour into you and support you unconditionally on your journey.
Another common weakness of women is the misconception that we must always explain ourselves. This belief is rooted from a subconscious belief that we must constantly prove our worth to others as a result of years of oppression and a constant ongoing battle of gender equality. Over explanation often times is tied to uncertainty. When someone commits a crime they’ll talk in circles to distract from the fact that they are in fact in the wrong. When women constantly go the extra mile to explain their choices it makes them seem uncertain and untrustworthy. Instead stand behind what you believe. Stop apologizing when an apology is not warranted. If people are genuinely interested, explain further. But if your only intention in giving an explanation is to dismantle a challenge of your integrity, build up the self-discipline to walk away. In reality no one wins. The other person has already decided how they feel about you and your decisions, so let them. Don’t allow them to reel you into their toxic behavior.
Lastly, boundaries require creating a healthy balance. Making time for self-care and mental health is the glue that holds this whole process together. We’ve been fed this idea that the hard-worker, the hustlers, the go getters always prevail. It seems as women, especially high-achieving women, take this idea to a whole new level. Things like sleep and balanced diet are commonly pushed to the side to get where you want in life. Although commendable this concept is not sustainable. Eventually this tactic becomes self-destructive. You wind up working against yourself which is unsustainable and not progressive. Therefore it’s important to reclaim your energy and spend time doing things you truly enjoy. For tips on how to better manage your time, check out my post on time management.
This week make it a priority to define your value and come up with a plan to establish healthy boundaries. Share this post on your social media with the hashtag #phenomenallyme and share with your followers what makes you phenomenal.
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