During the month of November, we are exploring the theme of Boundaries. This is a challenging topic for me and one that I am continuously exploring. I'd like to share a piece of my current personal life with you and how I am fumbling through creating boundaries for myself. Maybe you can relate. It's not uncommon. I am a single parent to four kids, three of whom still live at home. My kids are with me every other week and sometimes I feel as though I'm in a constant state of transition. I'm either gearing up to have a full house after a week of space and quiet or I'm winding down to say goodbye to my very favorite people. It's a lot of packing and unpacking. It feels like a seismic shift every single time. My alone time has always been precious to me and has become golden since becoming a mother. I prefer to start my day with at least an hour to myself. I journal and drink a cup of strong tea and meditate. It's just better for everyone involved in my life if this happens every morning. : ) In order to create this space, I wake up pretty early. I allow myself enough time to really sit still and then I get into the routine of making breakfast, emptying the dishwasher, driving kids to school, etc. I realized at the end of summer that I was very much looking forward to the routine of the school year. I also realized that it meant my morning quiet time had to be even earlier and that I needed to set some boundaries. I explained to my kids that in order for me to be the best version of myself, I need alone time in the morning. I asked that no one comes downstairs or disturbs me or asks for anything until 7:00am. I also explained that I need more help with simple chores. We talked together about what was reasonable for everyone. Turns out, my kids were understanding and have respected my requests 100 percent. Boundaries can help us move through life in the way that is most supportive for us as individuals. They allow us to show up authentically and also to receive authenticity from others. Sometimes not saying anything feels like the easiest path. Sometimes a task that takes 5 minutes doesn't seem like something I should ask for help with. When all the 5-minute tasks bleed together and not saying anything only creates more internal dialogue, perhaps it's time for some boundaries. That nagging intuition is often a clue. Some boundaries don't need to be communicated directly. There may be instances in your life where you need to draw lines that only you know the details about. Your actions will beautifully demonstrate where the boundaries are. Here are my tips for having a conversation with another about healthy boundaries:
1. Get clear on what your boundaries are. Meditate. Journal. Go inward first.
Take time to reflect on what you truly need and where your boundaries lie. Meditation and journaling can help you explore your emotions and thoughts.
Identify the specific areas or situations where you feel your boundaries are being tested or need to be established.
Consider how these boundaries align with your values and well-being. Are they necessary for your mental and emotional health?
2. State what you need in relation to yourself (i.e. no blaming language). Keep it about you.
When communicating your boundaries, use "I" statements to express your needs. For example, "I need some alone time in the morning" rather than "You always disturb me in the morning."
Avoid blaming language or accusations. Focus on your feelings and requirements, making it clear that you are taking responsibility for your needs.
3. In simple and brief terms, explain why it's important.
Share with the other person why your boundaries are essential for your well-being. You can mention how they positively impact your mental state or your ability to be present in your relationships.
Keep your explanation concise and to the point. People are more likely to understand and respect your boundaries if they can clearly see the reasons behind them.
4. Be open to feedback and prepare to hear something you don't want to hear. Listen.
Be receptive to the other person's perspective and feedback. Understand that they may have their own needs and concerns.
Be prepared for the possibility that they might not agree with your boundaries or have their reservations. Be willing to engage in a constructive dialogue to find common ground.
Actively listen to their point of view, even if it challenges your boundaries. Show empathy and a willingness to understand their position.
5. Offer gratitude. Always.
Express appreciation for the other person's willingness to listen and engage in this conversation with you, even if it felt rocky.
Acknowledge that boundary-setting conversations can be difficult, and thank them for their patience and understanding, even if there were moments of tension.
Also, remember to appreciate yourself for having the courage to express your needs and set boundaries that support your well-being and resilience.
Ever onward, Nicole Pause Community Manager
Nicole Rush is Pause's Community Manager and an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor. Meditation is like digestion for the mind, guiding us to a place where we are able to let go of what no longer serves us, we can recognize the true self within, always there to guide us.
Our days are filled with activities that sometimes feel less than extraordinary, such as cooking dinner, doing the laundry or walking the dog. But, if we pay attention, we will recognize the richness and abundance in the seemingly mundane. We don’t have to wait for a special day to find joy and happiness — it’s available now.
In 2018, Nicole traveled to the mountains of Kathmandu to complete her yoga and meditation teacher training. She also holds a Yoga Nidra certification and a Bachelor of Fine Art from Marylhurst University. Outside of wellness practices, Nicole finds joy in poetry, knitting, long walks, French films and her ever-vibrant family.