A professor once shared with me that boundaries are “loving you and myself at the same time”. If we’re unfamiliar with the concept of boundaries, this phrase is a great way to start thinking about what it means to show love for our self and the people around us simultaneously. Often caring people are more expressive and giving with the people they love than they are with their own selves, giving and giving until they become burnt out, resentful or upset.
Boundaries are the practice of understanding our own feelings and needs, and communicating our limits to others. We all have a capacity for helping others, and it looks different for each person. Our self-care practices may grant us a higher capacity for helping others, because we are attuned to consistently refilling our own cup, allowing us to continue giving without burning out. But we still have a limit.
For example, you are late to work and a friend calls you and asks for a ride. Do you agree to pick them up or lovingly tell them you’re unable to grant this last-minute request because of your own need to get to work? Maybe a family member begins to tell you something about another family member and you realize you don’t really want to know this information! Do you politely stop them and let them know you’re uncomfortable with the information they’re sharing, or let it continue? Or perhaps you’ve just returned home from a long list of errands and your child wants to play a game with you. Do you agree to play, even though you’re exhausted or let them know that you need a few minutes of rest by yourself before you join their game?
Boundaries can be complicated and challenging and they look different for each person. The most important place to start is by looking at our own level of comfort and being willing to honor our own needs. When we accept and acknowledge ourselves, it becomes easier to set boundaries about what we’re willing to accept from others.
If you want to talk more about this or other issues, reach out! Our connect groups and mentorship programs are a great way to get involved in conversations with others about these important issues. We care about your health! Reach out to Northwest Kidney Kids to get connected.