Many of you may know that I recently announced my pregnancy. Yes, I’m officially a mom getting ready to welcome a new little human into the world! This new chapter in my life has definitely turned my life upside down. I’ve had to take self-care and stress management to a whole new level, and for me, that means revisiting a subject I’ve always struggled with, personal boundaries. There are so many avenues to explore within this topic, but one thing that keeps coming up for me is how to separate my identity and sense of self from the actions and opinions of others. That means taking a step back in my present day to day interactions as well as letting go of harmful meanings I’ve attached to my identity from past experiences. I’m moving into “family first” mode, which leaves very little brain space for stress and insecurity.
Only You Can Define You
So much of life’s drama revolves around absorbing the thoughts, behaviors, and opinions of other people. One of the biggest revelations I’ve had in the past year is that nothing is personal in this world. Actions and judgments from others have more to do with a system of beliefs and behaviors they have adapted for their own lives based on their own experiences, traumas, and personal ambitions. For most people, you are merely a particle dancing in their atmosphere. If you don’t like the atmosphere you should get away from that person, but don’t let it define you.
Maybe you ask yourself why a certain person hurt you the way they did. You wonder what you did to contribute to this or you spend time trying to figure out how to make sense of it. Guess what? You can’t. It’s not yours to make sense of. This is where personal boundaries come in. Why do we try to figure out another person’s problematic behavior when it has everything to do with them and very little if anything to do with us? It doesn’t mean anything about you, but you can use these experiences to better define who you are. You can use these experiences to determine more quickly who you vibe with and who you don’t.
No Hard Feelings
Part of not taking it personally means there’s no real reason to carry around dislike or ill will towards another person. Carrying that burden holds you back, but it doesn’t change the other person. Although it is unfortunate that you had a bad experience with that person, let it be just that, an experience that taught you something new about the world with no larger meaning about who you are as a person.
Wishy-washy vs Personal Confidence
Human beings are social creatures, and sometimes we let the opinions of others melt into our opinions of ourselves. We take every negative experience to mean something about ourselves. We forget that we have the right to choose what stays out there and what is allowed to cross over into how we define ourselves. When the line between ourselves and the world becomes blurry and broken, it can wreak havoc on our mental health, self-confidence, and deplete our supply of self-love. These are precious resources that we can’t afford to let just anyone access. Never forget that you have the power to choose who you are. Be conscious of expending more energy on yourself, developing yourself, valuing yourself and healing yourself, than trying to pull meaning from what other people are saying and doing. I mean that on a large scale (who doesn’t absorb some of the ridiculousness from media and the news?) and on a small scale with day to day interactions.
Be conscious of what you let into your heart and mind. It’s a wild world out there, don’t take it personally.
- Be mindful of how certain interactions make you feel, both in person and online. Did the post you just interacted with on social media feed your soul or leave you feeling insecure or upset? In person, this might mean it’s time to disengage and refocus on yourself or something that nourishes you. Online, it might be time to log off or take note of the type of posts that upset you so that you can block or unfollow. Not everything can be allowed in your brain space!
- Before you internalize unpleasant comments or behavior, think about whether the opinions or judgments match what you know to be true about yourself. For example, is someone belittling your intelligence when you know that you are well-informed on a certain topic? Trust yourself and the knowledge you’ve gained about yourself over the years. No split second interaction can invalidate those truths.
Do you have any tips about maintaining personal boundaries? Comment below to share your wisdom.