One morning, I received a text from a good friend. After reading her message, I experienced both disappointment and happiness at the same time. So, to share with you the backstory, earlier in the week we had made plans to get together as we had both been quite busy and it had been a while since we spent any quality time together. In her text message, she expressed to me how sorry she was to have to cancel the plans we had made. She then took the responsibility for over-scheduling herself and explained she had done that because she was “in a dither”, as she really wanted to spend time with me. She also wrote, “But I’ll get it together, LOL.” That is why in the moment of reading her message, I was initially bummed because I wanted to see her, but I was also so thrilled that she was able to express her needs with such honesty. It touched my heart that she trusted me enough to ask me to honor what she needed and to simply express the limits of her time.
Later that day we wound up connecting on the phone for a few minutes and laughed about over-scheduling ourselves. I realized as I began to write this that I actually didn’t express to her how much I thought that she did have it together. She valued herself and set a limit in order to take care of herself, make herself a priority, while still being kind-hearted. She made choices that allowed her to be true to herself without getting to the point of depleting herself and then taking her frustration out on herself or others. Her generosity was inclusive, as she truly values friendship. I understand that it is a priority for her to spend time with her friends when she is able to give her energy and attention in the way that is rewarding to both people.
There is a big difference between caring and being invested. The difference is in the amount of emotional energy you give away and the ability to prioritize your needs in balance to others in your life. Our emotions are what drive us to seek love, friendship, and connection. This should be well-protected. Remember that only you can truly know what you feel and what you need and what is essential in your life – you are the best authority on you. Boundaries are meant to be used as guidelines for decision making and to maintain self-care; not rigid barriers or walls that you place between yourself and others. Setting limits can help you respond to life by making choices that have meaning to you. This belief is significant in maintaining your well-being.
It is not only important to ask for what you need, but to define who is important to you. Include people in your life that honor your needs and don’t drain you or take advantage of your kindness or willingness to give. It is essential to recognize that if you continue to give more to others than you are capable of, you may put myself at a disadvantage by trying to accommodate everyone.
If you find yourself doing this often, step back and take a look at whether or not you are really gaining anything from the choices you are making. No one has perfect boundaries, but it’s important to note that we can’t give away more than we have in any area of our lives. We should support each other in setting boundaries and maintaining self-care. It is helpful to remember your values when deciding where you want to focus your time, energy or emotions. Healthy boundaries make it possible for you to respect your individual needs as well as those of others. Setting healthy boundaries helps us to maintain the right balance in our schedules and in our lives.