“Lack of boundaries invites lack of respect.” ~Anonymous
I love talking about healthy boundaries and have had an amazing opportunity to do so while teaching eleven and twelve-year-old girls about confidence, empowerment, and healthy relationships through the nonprofit Leap to Success. I have been leading a pilot program at a Boys and Girls Club teaching our Leap to Confidence curriculum to middle school girls during their summer camp. It has been such a joy to connect with this younger generation and hear them share what having more confidence will allow them to do, learn about their dreams, and teach stress management, communication, and boundary setting skills to these wise and insightful young women.
So much of the work I have done with my counseling clients over the years has been focused on nurturing healthy boundaries. One of the ways we protect and care for ourselves is to set healthy boundaries and these boundaries are essential to cultivating healthy relationships with ourselves and others. To be able to set boundaries, the guidelines to how we want to be treated, we need to believe that we are worthy. When we struggle with self-esteem or self-worth issues, boundary setting can be challenging. When we don’t set healthy boundaries, we may have more experiences that reinforce our lack of self-worth. It seems that whatever we are willing to put up with is exactly what we will have in our lives.
And the beautiful thing is – we have choice. Recognizing that we teach others how to treat us can inspire us to consistently set clear and healthy boundaries. These boundaries are critical to our self-nurturing practice as they reinforce the importance of listening to our feelings, acknowledging what we need, and prioritizing time for ourselves. As Gina Greenlee wrote, “Honoring your own boundaries is the clearest message to others to honor them, too.”
How often do you honor your own boundaries?
If we do not enforce our own boundaries, we teach people that we are not serious about them. Over time our boundaries will be seen as optional instead of essential. When we do not honor our own boundaries, we start to lose trust in and respect for ourselves. Not honoring our own boundaries undermines our relationship with ourselves and contributes to our habit of self-neglect.
Since self-nurturing is about the relationship we have with ourselves, it is critical to bring awareness to our boundaries.
To get clear about your boundaries, ask yourself how do you wish to be treated by others?
When I asked the girls how they wishes to be treated, they responded with answers like respect, kindness, honesty, to be listened to, supported, and encouraged, and not to be judged, criticized or abused in any way. I was impressed with their clarity and wondered what the world would be like for girls and women, if we treated ourselves the way we wanted to be treated by others and consistently enforced our boundaries with others.
“You best teach others about healthy boundaries by enforcing yours.” ~ Bryant McGIll
What is one healthy boundary you can commit to that will support you in building more trust with yourself?
What will it take to consistently honor it?
How will nurturing healthy boundaries improve your relationship with yourself and others?
I leave you with Rachel Wolchin’s wisdom, “Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do.”
Boundaries are essential in nurturing ourselves because they reinforce our value and worth and create ripple effects of health and healing in our lives.
May you nurture healthy boundaries with yourself and others as you nurture peace in the world from the inside out!
Sending you so much peace, love and gratitude,
Kelley Grimes, M.S.W.
Counselor, Author & Speaker
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