I’ve learned that people don’t really like or want to respect other peoples boundaries. For some reason the people who set boundaries are often called unreasonable or experience verbal abuse for having them. I don’t really understand why or why it bothers so many people the way it does. You are the creator and the maintainer of your own life. This life is no one but yours. So you should be the one to call all the shots, no matter what they are. But some of us don’t like conflict and so we let other people slide by treating us the way we don’t want to be treated just to “keep the peace”. Your boundaries tell people how to treat you. And that’s something that took me a long time to learn. And it wasn’t something I would let someone else push aside once I had Tums. And my boundaries were and sometimes still are pushed to the side. But if there’s one thing I don’t let slide anymore, it’s that if you push me, I push back. I refuse to settle for being pushed just to “keep the peace”. My boundaries insure my peace of mind, everything else is just in my way.
Ironically it wasn’t until my second set of in laws that seemed to have a problem with me and my way of life that I realized how much of my own boundaries I would bend for the sake of “looks” and “pleasing others”. And thinking back on it, omg, what was I thinking by allowing people to think certain things that were okay when they really really were not. The difference between my two sets of in laws is that at least the first set took the years and time to get to know me, and know how I work. So if I said no to something, even if they didn’t agree with it they didn’t question it either and just chalked it up to “that’s just how she is” and never tried to change or pressure me into anything else. It wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t want to show up to their house for whatever reason. And if I was having a fight with my sister in law then it was just between me and my sister in law; it wasn’t some big family lets-jump-this-person. Most of the time her parents stayed completely out of it if me and her were having problems. And it’s still like that today, if I’m mad at my sister, I’m mad at her. Not her mom, not her dad, not her brother. Her. And WE handle it. Without inviting the rest of the family to join in. Well that and her family would never spread rumors about me. So. Wait, her bother — my ex husband — has. But you know what, he went through a lot, so I’ll let him have that.
4 boundaries that count as self care;
| Saying No
As a kid who grew up in a Filipino household I always questioned the whole “I’m the adult, you have to respect me” ideal. I remember asking my mom at 6/7 “isn’t respect suppose to be earned and mutual…?” and she didn’t have a response. But it was one of those “adult” things that kind of stayed with me my whole life, for sure.
Filipino’s are SO BIG on appearances and what people think of them. Everyone just wants to appear better than the next person. Why? I freakin have no idea considering most of them grew up in the same poverty stricken neighborhood. But hey, whatever makes them feel better about themselves. It definitely bothered my mom that I didn’t take my “appearance” seriously enough for her.
I said no to dresses a lot and yes to boy clothes, video games and jeans. Being bullied about my skinny legs my whole life can do that and dresses did not make me feel comfortable, at all. Not until I was in my 30’s. And living in hot ass Florida.
It should be obvious that it’s your body, your life, your peace of mind that you need to protect. But too often we’re caught up in what our boundaries might look like to other people instead of figuring out that we should only be around people who respect our boundaries. And yes, there is a huge difference between the two. And while I get it’s easier said than done, your tribe should really understand you as a person and that just because you say no, it doesn’t have anything to do with them personally.
| Setting aside “self care” time daily/weekly
When Tums was still super little — like couldn’t walk yet little — I made it a point to always set time aside for myself. I didn’t want to be one of those new moms who never showered or did anything for herself. So I often took time to take bubble baths and set aside every Sunday for myself — which is something I’ve been doing since way before I even met my husband. Now that Tums can walk and talk and understand things a bit, it’s been a little harder to find time to take bubble baths. And because of COVID it’s been hard to set aside Sunday’s for myself.
So now I try to find other ways to set aside “self care” time. Be in watching a few episodes of a show I’m looking forward to before bed. Or finding time to do a page out of a digital coloring book or even just playing a few rounds of Freecell or something before going to sleep. I do miss taking the time to play Animal Crossing or FFXIV. And I even just bought Story of Seasons for the Switch and haven’t made it passed the intro yet. But I’m working on that.
Setting aside “me time” is so important and often super looked over. There’s a bit of guilt in it, esp if you’re a (new) mom. But finding/remembering who YOU are is also a super important thing to consider when these sort of times come around. Finding self care time helps to keep you balanced and can play a part in your self confidence as well as prevent burn out. As much as I love being around other people, if I don’t get enough self care time with myself, I start to get super irritable.
| Kicking out people in your life who don’t contribute to your well being
This is def easier said than done and it’s probably one of the harder ones on this list.
I wish I could fully explain in words why this is so important. But I can’t. We as people like to be accepted, even if we know those we seek acceptance from aren’t even good for us. Or that the effort is worthless. But it doesn’t stop us from trying because we want to be liked, accepted and loved. And we feel like the people in front of us are as good as it gets. But that’s not true, at all. Making friends can be really hard, esp now during this whole COVID thing; but settling for people who don’t contribute to your well being is going to do nothing but hurt you more as time goes on.
I’ve had my share of friendemies and let met tell you — even now, almost 20 years later — sometimes I still get mad about the things I let certain people get away with. I was super insecure and shy as a kid and I hate that I let people take advantage of me or try to tell me who I was which looking back was just a projection of their own insecurities. Which is hard to see when it’s happening; but if you feel anyone isn’t contributing to your well being, it’s your right to kick them out and deny them access to your space.
| Having needs that are uncompromisable
You learn a lot from having mental health struggles and especially with OCD. The fact that I need things at home to be a certain way is a lot, I get it. And for the longest time I felt like because of these things that no one could ever live with me or everyone would eventually leave. I’ve been around people who truly didn’t believe OCD was real and made me feel absolutely awful about my anxiety. So I decided to live alone because no one could make me feel bad if no one was here and it was great. The most stress free I had ever been.
Bubba might not get some of the things, but he does everything he can to make sure my mental health isn’t spiraling out of control. Most of the time. He gets I freak out about certain things. I was so worried about Tums having to “grow up with an OCD mom” but to be honest, she doesn’t mind having to clean. She knows certain things make me upset so she tries to help as much as she can understand. But neither of them make me feel like I’m hard to love or live with. My BFF is also really aware of the things that freak me out when it comes to my OCD and is absolutely considerate when it comes to it without question.
This kind of ties in with the last one; but find people who care if you’re comfortable. Find people who get it and won’t accuse you of “being/doing too much”. Having needs that aren’t up for debate or compromise are things you’re allowed to have.
But also be mindful of the things other people set as their boundaries as well; my BFF will make plans with me super in advanced and will cancel at least like 80% of those plans and that’s just who she is. Sometimes she just doesn’t want to physically be around people. Sometimes she goes off the grid. And that’s totally fine.
Finding your people who respect your boundaries is possible. Don’t just settle for the people around you because they’re there. Esp if they make you feel bad about yourself.
One thought on “4 boundaries that count as self care”
Very good tips! What you said about growing up in a Filipino household in which what an adult said was law resonates true for me too, having grown up with a Korean mother and white father. There was a lot of emphasis on adults always being right and to always have so much respect for not just adults but for anyone older than you.
It took me a long time until I felt comfortable saying ‘no’ to people. I used to always feel so guilty and would just succumb to the pressure of saying yes and going along with everyone else! 🙂