I love everything about boundaries. Talking about them, thinking about them, managing them and changing them when needed.
I first wrote about Setting Boundaries as an Adult this time last year. The post was purposefully written, in the wake of events that followed my book coming out. Those boundaries were pretty strong: I refuse to hide from my truth anymore; You can’t pour from an empty cup; There’s no going back now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I stand by them.
But, still, things have changed for me since then. And while I think that these boundaries will stick with me for the longer term, if not permanently, I recognize that the boundaries I set for myself are unfamiliar to others close to me. Even those not close, that maybe once were.
This thought was sparked by a post that one of my cousins shared to Facebook recently.
My immediate thought in response to this saying was in reference to my relationships. I have a very active imagination, you see. I’m one of those people that act out scenes of how interactions will go in my head before they happen, and thinking about things and people and everything all the time.
I’m thinking it’s the creative side of me.
Sometimes I think about people that I no longer have a fruitful relationship with. That I chose to remove from my life, that have drifted apart from me over time or that have chosen to have nothing to do with me.
I may think about them—admittedly too often sometimes—but that does not mean that I shouldn’t stop working on those relationships. I have created boundaries to keep myself healthy and safe. They are there for a reason, to protect me. But it doesn’t mean that these people don’t sneak into my thoughts more often than they should. The relationship had to pass to keep me healthy. So just because I think of them, doesn’t mean the relationship needs work.
In another post I wrote about letting go, I noted that Boundaries are about you and not anyone else. And I think that’s what make boundaries difficult for people that don’t have them to understand. It’s not just something about boundaries either. You can apply the same rule to so many things. The example that comes to mind is when you’re supporting a friend or helping someone through tough times.
It’s not about you.
There are so many places I feel the words pulling me here. Empathy—see this Armchair Expert Podcast with Jamil Zaki, a professor of psychology that speaks about his approach to empathy and how it can help shape us as happy people. Selflessness—How to be Selfless in a Selfish World. Hurt. Because let me tell you, just because someone is no longer in my life, doesn’t make it easy when I think about them.
I do have one trick for that, though. It’s something that I try to do when any negative comments make their way into my thoughts. And it's something I attribute to loving myself and my body for who I am.
I take a deep breath and replace the thought with another. Accepting that I’m thinking about someone or something that I don’t necessarily want to and then moving on with another, more positive and welcome, thought, makes things easier to handle.
I encourage you to try it sometime.