Growing up, I always seemed comfortable being in the background, I was never the girl that would volunteer for anything that involved my being in the spotlight. The thought of stepping out terrified me and so that one decision went on to impact so many other areas of my life, my relationships, my working life and my friendships.
I didn’t like confrontations and would fight to keep the peace, even apologising when I knew the other person was in the wrong. In essence, I was actually disabling that person from acknowledging when they were wrong. I started to realise that I could never change them, but I could change myself, and changing myself meant making better choices that were healthy for my soul.
Making better choices meant setting boundaries for everything I did, for what I was willing to accept, for my time, for my relationships. This has probably been one of the hardest things I have had to do but here is the thing … only when I started setting boundaries did I begin to see the extent to which I had allowed certain behaviours to dictate my life.
Let me explain – as I said previously I hated confrontations and that meant if I was in a conversation where I felt I was being emotionally manipulated I wouldn’t challenge the person I was talking to. Instead I would try my best to keep the peace by complying to some of what the other person wanted me to do, even if deep down I didn’t really want to do it.
This led me to feel resentment, which developed into bitterness, everytime I agreed to something against my will. The truth is, the other person had no idea that this was affecting me because I hadn’t voiced my concerns, nor did I put up the relevant boundaries to let the person know where I start and where I end.
“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options”
Henry Cloud, ‘Boundaries’.
As I started setting healthy boundaries, I started to feel freer, I started evolving. Saying no began to free me into saying yes to the right things. If someone had asked me, “Sips, do you know who you are?” I would have said “Yes, of course,” but setting these boundaries freed me from being a people pleaser, forced me to challenge things that didn’t sit well with me and made me think about what type of person I truly wanted to be.
It opened me up to the fact that I had been closed because I was so used to complying, and as a result, I had lost a bit of myself each time. It opened me up to getting to know myself on a deeper level away from the opinions of others or their expectations of what they thought my life should look like. Silencing their voices, and saying no to their expectations, allowed me to hear Gods voice more clearly and depend on Him more than ever before. It awakened an even stronger desire to live a life of purpose, a life I was destined for.
We learn so many things in childhood, right through to adulthood, exposing us to certain behaviours that we accept as “It is what it is”, but in truth, it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to accept everything that life and people throw at us. Not setting boundaries clutters our lives and stops us from hearing the right things and making the right choices that could have a huge impact on us. We can choose to say no, we can choose to challenge how we are labelled, we can choose to set healthy boundaries that will ultimately free us to be our best selves, to be who we are truly meant to be. We can choose to draw a line in the sand and embrace this new way of doing things, a way that is healthy for the soul, a way that has healthy boundaries for the good, of not only ourselves, but those we come into contact with.