How to create boundaries and stand up for yourself
Moments where you notice yourself self-abandoning can hit pretty hard. We may feel sad and even sorry for ourselves, however…sometimes, it can be rather empowering.
Self-abandonment can show up in many different ways. Saying, doing, and even believing something that doesn’t authentically align with your needs and/or personal values are typically forms of self-abandoning. It is something that everyone does from time-to-time; either consciously or even subconsciously. We show up for other people in order to make them satisfied, happy, or comfortable while forgetting about or neglecting ourselves.
Signs Of Self-Abandonment
Something we may commonly find ourselves doing is saying ‘yes’ or ‘okay’ to doing something you actually don’t want to, or that may be disrespecting you, your time, and energy. Examples of this would be:
- Saying ‘okay’ to working overtime.
- Agreeing to going out with friends when you much rather prefer staying in for the night.
- Saying ‘yes’ to helping someone when you know you already have so much on your plate.
Other signs of self-abandoning could be taking on beliefs of other people, and which in most cases happens before actually saying or doing what doesn’t authentically resonate with us. We may sometimes:
- Think someone else’s advice is better than our own gut instinct.
- Believe that we are the demeaning words other people may call us.
- Believe in someone else’s opinion over you.
- Believe we have to change ourselves for others.
Creating boundaries and standing up for ourselves are some examples of what we can do to stop people-pleasing and self-abandoning. The line between doing something for someone because you care and doing something for someone but neglecting your own needs can be a very fine one. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference, but that is why it is important to distinguish the differences and do our best in making sure we are genuinely okay too.
How To Set Boundaries
Firstly, get to know yourself. It can be of huge help when a time comes and you’re conflicted on whether you want to agree in doing something for someone else’s benefit. Get to know yourself by studying how you feel when someone asks you to do something or express an opinion of theirs to you. Do you feel a part of you wanting to do something else for yourself instead? Were there feelings of conflict when agreeing to an idea?
After familiarising yourself with how you feel, communicate. Whether it is in the moment of rejecting that extra amount of work from your boss or to standing up for yourself to someone’s way of speaking to you, you can either keep it short or sit them down.
- Practice saying ‘no’ when not wanting to do something you don’t want to.
- Gently express how this person may be treating you makes you feel.
- Follow up with future references too. You can let them know how to approach you next time or to keep in mind what you are okay with.
Let them know what you are okay with and what you aren’t. Communicating is a great way to express your boundaries.
And lastly, remember why you have created these boundaries. Occasionally, people can take advantage of your wants in pleasing them. This can be disrespectful and mistreatment, and not stating our boundaries with what we are okay with and what we are not can have them continue on with the mistreatment. Standing up for ourselves can definitely be considered a part of self-growth and great practice of self-love. Stating our boundaries can give us a better sense of self-worth and can make us feel more confident.
It’s ten o’clock at night and you’re going about your night routine when it suddenly hits you: you’re alone. It is something that has happened to all of us, a countless number of times, and some more than others. However, being alone is one thing, loneliness is another.
Everyone has felt lonely at least once in their life. Though it is an inevitable emotion bound to happen at least once for everyone, it is important to remember that it is a very human and natural feeling to go through.
The Differences Between Being Alone And Being Lonely
Feeling alone and feeling lonely (although similar) are two very different emotions. Being alone is a physical state where one is physically by themselves. Loneliness, however, can be the sadness or anxiety that comes from it – a mental state of wanting human contact and / or connection.
Loneliness is also something that can be felt no matter your situation or environment. It is even possible to still feel lonely in a room full of people; and is not synonymous to isolating by choice, or solitude. Someone can feel lonely when alone, when surrounded with company, or when loved ones are emotionally unavailable. When you feel lonely, you may feel ’empty’, and may feel separated from others or everyone else.
The Effects Of Loneliness
Dealing with loneliness, and especially over a long period of time, can have a number of negative effects on one’s physical and mental health. Besides causing one to feel isolated, empty, and unwanted, it can lead to depression, social anxiety, anti-social behavior, increased stress levels, and can also lead to alcohol and drug abuse in attempts to cope.
Incredibly hard emotions can come from feeling lonely which can also affect a person’s way of living. Someone battling these emotions may begin neglecting taking care of themselves by neglecting physical activity, a balanced diet, and may also experience sleeping disorders and withdraw themselves further from society. According to the American Psychological Association, impaired immunity and poor cardiovascular function are also among the effects of loneliness.
However, with that said, loneliness does not necessarily show itself in how someone’s day-to-day life looks. The most outgoing and energetic person you know most probably feels lonely from time-to-time too.
How To Overcome Loneliness
No matter how long you may have been feeling lonely for, or how heavy the feelings have gotten, there are ways to cope with loneliness and to overcome it.
- Firstly, it is okay to feel lonely. There should be no shame; and if you are surrounded by people who you know love and care for you but find yourself feeling lonely every once in a while, there should be no guilt either. Validate your emotions, and remind yourself too that you are not alone.
- Reach out to relatives and / or friends. Plan to visit friends / family or meet up with them for coffee or a meal. To help combat the feeling of loneliness, we must try not to isolate ourselves further but spend time with others instead.
- Let go of expectations. Sometimes loneliness can be stemmed from lack of feeling understood by others or the lack of the level of connection we desire, and so we may end up feeling disappointed when these expectations aren’t delivered. Let go of expectations and remind yourself that there are so many people out there. You will find the right people to have conversations and experiences with of which will be more on the same wavelength as you.
- Take control over the situation by spending time with yourself, reflecting, doing what you enjoy, picking up new hobbies, or even putting yourself in new environments and communities (you’ll more likely to meet new people that way who may just become potential friends).
Feeling lonely can be an extremely dark and scary space to be in, but it is important to remember that you are not alone in this feeling, and neither are you truly alone in this world. Be gentle with yourself as you are dealing with loneliness, it is okay to feel lonely, and there are ways to overcome it.
Stress is inevitable, something close to impossible to avoid. It is difficult to prevent, however, what we do have control over are tracking our stress levels and how we manage them.
Monitoring our stress levels can be a huge lifesaver. It can help us to have more control over stressful situations and can be a helpful guide on knowing when it is time to step back, light that candle, and de-stress.
Have you ever looked back at a week or month that had just gone by and only realized later that you were incredibly stressed out? It’s possible; that we sometimes don’t even pick up on our bodies telling us that something is wrong. There are a number of indicators such as: headaches, changes in heart rate, digestive problems, changes in appetite, and more. It’s definitely a skill that takes practice: feeling our bodies’ responses and listening to them.
Besides our bodies being our own inner trackers, there are other ways we can monitor our stress levels: through technology!
Some wearable technology you can invest in:
- Samsung Smartwatches – Samsung Smartwatches also come with the Samsung Health App just like with their smartphones. They allow you to monitor your heart rate; and when feeling stressed, provide a guided deep breathing exercise to help you relax.
- Fitbit – The Stress Management Feature on the Fitbit Sense detects stress responses during guided meditation and breathing exercises.
- Garmin – Garmin watches also allow users to monitor their stress levels by determining their current level of stress based on their heart rate.
Other wearable technology
- Amazon Halo Band – The Amazon Halo Band is a screen-free wristband that can track physical activity, sleeping patterns, and stress levels. Just connect it to your smartphone to have access to records the wristband has detected.
- Muse Headband – A wearable brain sensing headband that measures brain activity and stress levels.
But if wearing these aren’t your kinda thing, here are some apps you can check out:
Available on iOS & Google Play
An app that allows users to customize goals, journal, follow guided meditations, and tracks sleep and nutrition.
Available on iOS & Google Play
This app helps users measure stress levels by placing their thumb over the camera which Stress Scan then analyzes changes in your heart rate.
Available on iOS & Google Play
Personal Zen’s features include musical therapy, journaling, breathing exercises, and stress relieving games.
It’s one of the most human things about us – to constantly focus on the flaws in ourselves and others. It’s in our nature to persistently try to jump into becoming the ideal person we wish ourselves to be. Although this can make us strive to grow and become the best versions of ourselves, other times we can end up holding ourselves to certain standards we have to reach, and standards we sometimes expect others to reach; whether they are close loved ones or even complete strangers we see on the internet.
It’s important to know that constantly striving for perfection can become toxic; and holding certain high expectations towards others too, can become toxic. How about when we find ourselves criticizing strangers we see on social media? When we notice ourselves criticizing strangers we have no clue about, we may want to ask ourselves whether it’s because we have subconsciously detached ourselves from being empathetic or even occasionally, whether it’s because of our own insecurities.
It can be hard to not compare ourselves to past versions or to expected versions of ourselves; as well as reminding ourselves that it isn’t our position to speak of our loved one’s lives as if we are the dictator of how they live theirs. As for strangers that we see on the internet, we could do some self-reflection and ask ourselves why we hold certain opinions towards them. Are they from our own deep rooted insecurities? Or if they live their life nothing like how we wish to live ours, are we critical perhaps because we actually just aren’t happy with ours?
Replacing Criticism With Curiosity
With all this talk of criticism, we may want to self-reflect and try practicing being more mindful so that when we catch these versions of ourselves present, we’ll know what to try doing instead.
When finding yourself being critical towards yourself:
- Replace doubting your own potential with an open-mind of questions such as, “What if it all turns out better than I had hoped for?”. This can open your curiosity of what you are truly capable of if you just gave yourself the chance. You just might apply for that job you were so afraid of.
- Release expectations of where you should be, how you should act, what you should look like, and instead become curious about the kind of person you could become if you just released all that weight from your shoulders.
- Remind yourself that when it comes to mistakes, it can be sensible to self-reflect and / or apologize if the situation calls for it. However, after you’ve taken the time, replace that self-criticism with the curiosity of the person you will now continue growing into after experiencing a possible lesson.
When finding yourself being critical towards someone you don’t know:
- Replace the criticism with empowerment instead. Support how they dress, how they talk, and how they present themselves to the public. Be happy for them instead, that they are expressing themselves the way they wish to!
- Release all comparisons. Whether it’s comparing yourself to them or them to others, remember, everyone’s different and it is perfectly okay to live a life that is different from how others wish to.
- Remind yourself to be empathetic. Everyone’s trying their best.
When finding yourself being critical towards a loved one:
- Replace judgment with interest. Interest to see where they go in life with their own decisions. They may find it incredibly loving knowing you stand with them and their choices.
- Release expectations. Even if your expectations and care comes from a place of love and wanting to see them live their best life. Try releasing yourself from focusing on their flaws, and instead be open to knowing that there is so much more to them than their mistakes and your expectations of them.
- Remind yourself that even if you don’t agree with them, it isn’t up to us to dictate how someone else should live their life.
Whether it’s having an opinion on the way a stranger chooses to present themselves online, or the way a friend decides on how they want to live their life, we can definitely try being more empathetic and accepting by replacing criticism with curiosity instead. And as we find ourselves letting go and supporting how they wish to live, we may find ourselves being a lot kinder not only to them but to ourselves too.
With the year coming close to an end and the new year approaching, most of us are undoubtedly already planning for the new year ahead.
Naturally, with all the drastic changes in our daily lives – due to the pandemic and the lockdowns – we may have picked up certain habits we haven’t noticed and could still be carrying, even after things have started returning back to normal. If not habits stemmed from the lockdowns, we can all still make a list of unhealthy behaviours to finally leave behind in 2021, and replace them with healthier ones for our own personal journeys of growth in the new year ahead.
Make a hot cup of tea and start reflecting! Reflect on your own possible unhealthy habits, and list them down.
Here are some of ours:
- Not setting boundaries with work
- Becoming overly-dependent on food delivery
- Neglecting our health (physical & mental)
- Comparing ourselves to others
- Not getting enough sleep
What to do instead:
Actively set those work boundaries.
Whether it’s a boundary of saying “no” to your boss after working hours or creating barriers for the areas in your home where work is welcome, setting these kinds of boundaries can be a breath of fresh air. Become more aware of your own limitations and practice saying “no” to work tasks from your boss and /or colleagues; especially if your hands are already full. If you’re still WFH (working-from-home), try separating areas within your home where you don’t bring work into, for example: refraining from bringing your laptop into bed and leaving your bedroom as a space where only rest is allowed. Doing this can help you create a barrier for when and where you should be focusing on work, or focusing on your peace of mind.
Get to know your kitchen.
The convenience whilst being in the comforts of your own home, we know, ordering in can be addicting. But let’s try to get rid of this habit and start cooking for ourselves more often. If you’re someone who already doesn’t enjoy cooking, look for simpler and easier recipes you can easily take fifteen minutes to prepare. You’d not only be tackling a new skill but would also be doing much more good for the environment.
Put your health first.
Don’t only take one or two days off your week to focus on your physical and mental health. Try incorporating little acts of self-care and kindness every single day – drinking more water, eating more whole foods, practicing your nighttime self-care routine, or taking daily supplements. We can often end up neglecting our own health due to forgetting, so actively list these and other self-care acts into your daily to-do lists or calendars. Our future selves will thank us.
Focus on yourself.
It can be hard to not compare yourself to other people and their achievements. Especially during the pandemic, we can often find ourselves feeling guilty seeing other people being more productive or in places and positions we wish ourselves were in. It’s perfectly normal, however, try not to hang around there for too long. Make a list of your own achievements and accomplishments, celebrate them, and try incorporating positive affirmations into your daily life to remind yourself of how wonderful you are.
Especially if you’re someone who runs off a good night of rest. Try maintaining a daily night routine of unwinding and relaxing – making a hot cup of chamomile tea, Brain-Dump journal, or watch your current favourite TV show; and give yourself extra time before bed to slowly doze off. Getting enough rest and good quality sleep will have you feeling more energized, healthier, and happier.
We wish you luck on the lists and hope 2022 will be another successful year of self-growth and improvement for you!