Have you struggled with saying no to people? What about loaning money to family and never getting it back? Do you attend events out of obligation rather than actually wanting to go? An important and necessary part of life that we need to prioritize is adding boundaries.
What is a boundary? According to the American Psychology Association, the dictionary definition is “a psychological demarcation that protects the integrity of an individual or group or that helps the person or group set realistic limits on participation in a relationship or activity.” Boundaries can show up in our lives in many ways. It could be telling your partner that you would like to enjoy meals together without the use of phones. It could be telling a friend that you can’t attend an event they are hosting – no explanation, end of story. It could be telling your brother that you can’t loan him any more money. Boundaries are necessary in order to set limits for ourselves and make sure that we are honoring our own needs before others. Although they are necessary, boundaries can be extremely difficult to set and follow through on.
Nedra Glover Tawwab’s inspirational and insightful read, Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself helps set the stage for the various kinds of boundary-setting opportunities in your life. This book includes helpful language, lays out the different parts of your life where you could use boundaries as well as exercises to reflect on the necessities in your everyday life and where you can implement some limits. Tawwab has shared many of her boundary-setting guides and thoughts through her Instagram which has turned into the ultimate resource for many people struggling with this issue. Check out her book for a full picture on how you can add healthy boundaries in your life, whether at work, with your family, friends or in your relationship. We need boundaries to live our truest and best lives – check it out and see where you may need a boundary or two (or twenty.)!
My therapist actually recommended this book to me a few weeks back. I grew up as a classic people pleaser – attending events I did not have a desire to go to so I wouldn’t disappoint the host, keeping my opinion quiet when it could have disrupted the group, saying yes before evaluating if I even have the bandwidth to complete their request. It’s absolutely exhausting. Besides feeling drained after constantly saying “yes” to people when I really meant “no”, it was taking a toll on my mental health and relationships. I constantly thought – why do people need so much from me? Why can’t they do this themselves? Why do I have to be at every event?
The answer was simple: I do not have to do anything I don’t want to – end of discussion.
I had a huge issue with setting boundaries. I had (and still have) a difficult time saying no to people. The concept of setting boundaries was a huge breakthrough for me. Tawwab’s book is especially useful with the example language as well as the exercises after each chapter to re-evaluate what boundaries you need in your life. I am happy to report that I do have a few healthy boundaries in my life – I also had some porous, or unhealthy, ones as well. Everyone could implement a boundary in their life. Whether it’s loosening up on a rigid boundary you have created for yourself (i.e. I will never work after 5 pm, no matter what) or a porous one (I say yes to people even when I mean no because I’d rather not disappoint them), there is opportunity for everyone to find a healthy boundary in their life.
Tawwab’s book had a huge impact on me. I’m still learning how to implement boundaries, ask for what I want and say no (without explanation!!) but resources like Set Boundaries, Find Peace helped push that along in the right direction. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt “obligated” to do things, considers themselves a people-pleaser or is looking for a way to prioritize themselves first.