I recently was the guest speaker for Keep It Real Mommy, an amazing non-profit that believes mothers should be provided opportunities that will educate, empower and engage them - teaching moms how to utilize what they learn and apply it to their everyday life.
The founder, Danielle Adamczyk, invited me to speak on the theme of boundaries. This is a favorite topic of mine, and I decided to write a complementary blog... for those who came to the event and for you.
You don't have to be a mom to benefit from these ideas... so regardless of who you are or where you are in life > read on if you would like support related to setting boundaries in your life! You may likely be a caretaker, caring soul, and someone who over functions... meaning you work harder on others' lives than they do. If so, these principles can definitely help you!
I'll start by sharing a belief I have. Here it is: The root of being caring to others is first being caring to you. Many of us, especially women, are brainwashed to put others’ first - especially our children. And while it is true that children literally depend on us and we do have a primary responsibility to them > I truly believe that you will best support your children, your spouse, and the planet by first honoring you.
What does this mean? It means becoming firmly rooted in learning to be yourself, being comfortable with yourself, and even finding out who you are. For many of us, this is odd and even awkward. We can easily pour out acceptance, encouragement and support for others, but not ourselves.
When you were two or three years old, you were actually in the prime time of being you. Small children are fierce and demanding and also timid and smart and great teachers. Yet, it was also likely someone began to try changing you pretty early on… this isn’t just the "Don’t put your hand on the burner," "Don't run into the street!" It’s also sometimes limiting how you dressed, how you expressed yourself, what was expected of you.
I'm not suggesting someone let you run totally footloose and fancy free, because boundaries and rules can be healthy and even life saving. But often we are the recipients of something more called brainwashing. We are taught by others how to adapt to their beliefs and behaviors.
Do you remember yourself as a young child? This can be both tender and happy or maybe stressful and hurtful - depending on your childhood. It is in exploring your own childhood that you can begin connecting with who you are and becoming free.
If you want to love your children or anyone else, you want to get to know them... who they are. The same is true for you... to love yourself > it would help to know yourself. Here are some basics of how to love yourself first - and that doesn’t mean loving your kids or partner or anyone else less.
Try these steps:
1) Remember a positive memory of your childhood. For some of us, we have so strongly focused on negative events this can be hard. Spend some time truly connecting with happy experiences you had as a child or young person.
2) Can you reconnect with her? What are the qualities you appreciate about this younger part of you? This is not just an exercise, it is a true part of you. Get out pictures of younger you and listen to anything she may have to say now.
3) Become clearer about messages you've received or experiences that took you away from this happy girl. You may need some extra support as this could be unpleasant.
4) Become clear about what she needs from you and what you want to experience in life now. This clarity is very important, stay with me.
5) Explore any thoughts of feeling unworthy and commit to feel worthwhile to yourself. This is where the adult you now can go back and be there for hurts parts of yourself.
7) 5) and 6) together are key parts of boundary setting. Because when you are clear about what you want and you feel worthy to get it > a natural boundary will occur!
How cool is that?
Through the practice of clarity and self-worth you will begin to listen to yourself more than you listen to others, you will make your own needs a priority, you will start to feel more confidence and ease!
When you have clarity, you will then be able to set boundaries easily and without feeling dramatic and emotionally charged. A boundary is saying what you will and will not put up with. If you are not confident, you don’t feel worthy, and you are unclear about who you are… then you will often be put down, taken advantage of and feeling pretty bad.
When you become clear about your own level of confidence, your worthiness, and what you want to experience and feel > then a natural border will be declared. It will come with feeling and not just empty words. How many times do we take up for ourselves, yelling and in distress, but not really backing up what we say with meaning or action?
So many times, I have worked with women and moms who have put others first for so long, they have lost their joy and their identity. The work then is clear: it is to discover (maybe for the first time or maybe again) who they are. If this is you, and you don’t feel like you know yourself very well… it’s okay. You can discover who you are.
The roots of your life can run deep in these practices. The investment you make in these practices will bring joy to your heart and your life and it will pass on to your children, your partner, your friends and family and the planet! Do not give up your own life for your children, hold onto who you are… the only blossom you can be. And you will blossom over and over!