Part of my minimalism journey involves learning the value of healthy boundaries. When I first discovered minimalism, I was a tired mamma, returning to a very demanding job, and no time (in my mind) for a shower. I was in desperate need of more time and energy. While some people chase money, I was chasing the dream of having time to myself to breathe and come back to who I was.
My minimalist journey was first focused on physical clutter. It then turned into mental clutter. The most recent milestone has been my focus on me and protecting my energy. As an introvert and empath, interactions with certain people or discussing certain topics are extremely draining. So draining that I require a nap or at a minimum a quiet moment alone to recharge my batteries.
What I’ve Learned
As a result, I’ve learned several tactics to recharge my energy. I’ve also come to realize how important it is to protect my energy with healthy boundaries. Boundaries can initially feel rude or mean. In actuality, setting healthy boundaries is good for you and for the person you are setting the boundary for. It’s a way to maintain a relationship with someone who you might otherwise feel you need to eliminate from your life. Previously, I thought I had to completely eliminate people from my life in order to have a sense of peace. Now I know that I can have harmony and connection without fully draining me.
Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to implement healthy boundaries.
Note this is a working progress. I still have good days and bad days. There are still days where I let go of my boundaries and allow other people to dictate my life. Shortly after those types of days, I find myself cursing why. So I want you to know that this is yet another one of those skills you have to strengthen and build upon.
Are You getting value in your relationships?
I’ll first start by saying you should still evaluate the relationships in your life. If you have draining relationships that are not adding value to your life then you should consider eliminating them. This can include:
- Work-related connections
- Friends of your children
- People from your college or high school you stay connected with at a surface level
Set time limits for challenging relationships
If there is a valuable relationship, you can set time limits or structure your gatherings to limit the time. An example could be a dear friend who constantly vents without any noticeable attempts to improve their circumstances. In an effort to set healthy boundaries, you can consider meeting with them for a limited time.
Some of the ways to set time limits include:
- Make your gatherings based on coffee dates instead of lunch or dinner. This reduces the amount of time you are likely to spend together.
- Start the conversation with a spoken time limit
- Reduce the number of catch-ups you have to 1-2 times a week depending on the level it impacts your energy.
Once again, setting time limits is a simple and effective way to establish healthy boundaries with your connections.
One of the actions I thought was unrelated to setting healthy boundaries is communication. This one has been super effective in my marriage. In many cases, both my husband and I made assumptions about the expectations of the other person. As a result, we end up disappointed or mad which usually led to an argument.
Another way to set healthy boundaries is through continuous communication. Avoid those uncomfortable conversations by stating upfront what you are willing to talk about. More importantly, communicate what you are not willing to talk about. It can also be explaining your expectations or anticipated actions related to a request made by the other person.
Going back to the friend who likes to vent about their problems. You cannot assume they want a solution. Instead, you should communicate your understanding at the beginning of the conversation. “As your friend, Do you want to have space to express your feelings on this issue, or are you looking for a solution?”
By doing so, you can reframe the way you respond to their questions or cues to discuss. You can also avoid missed expectations on the purpose of the conversation. You get what you need and so does your friend. I had a friend who recently did this for me and it was actually refreshing. It made me reflect on really what my purpose was. And know it’s okay if that purpose is just to complain. We all need that space and support sometimes.
Learn to prioritize Yourself
I am a recovering perfectionist and people-pleaser. In knowing myself, I know that I am prone to taking on the priorities of my friends, family members, co-workers, and clients. I do this in an effort to obtain approval and validation. I know this challenge comes from not being comfortable in my own skin. I am still working on this and hope to share how I am managing this later on.
Learn to take inventory of what you are doing and re-checking if those actions are aligned with your priorities, goals, and dreams. This is so important. How often you have to do this reflection depends on how susceptible you are to getting off-track. For me, it’s a daily occurrence. Much of the value I receive from both my morning and evening routines is re-centering. I am able to come back to myself and remind myself what I value most.
When you find yourself doing things that are more for the benefit of others, start reducing your load as quickly as you can. This will require you to communicate which can help you avoid disappointment when you do not meet expectations.
If you don’t set the expectations for yourself, someone else will.
Want to learn more?
This is just the tip of the iceberg on healthy boundaries. There are lots of books on setting healthy boundaries. One of my absolute favorite books is Nedra Glover Tawwab‘s book Set Boundaries, Find Peace. Not only is her book fantastic, but she is also a local therapist in the Charlotte, NC area. I love supporting my local amazing people.