“The best day of your life is the one in which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours. It is an amazing journey and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins” – Bob Moawad
If there’s one thing we need to know about life it’s this: we deserve to be happy. And not only do we deserve happiness, but happiness is our natural state of being, so if you are not 100% happy in this moment, it means something has gone awry.
There is an issue that needs to be addressed. No this does not mean that everyone in our life acts exactly like we think they should, it just means we take people as they come, and then we choose whether or not we would like them to be a part of our life.
Nor does it mean that we have zero aspirations for our life, it just means we take full responsibility for achieving them or not achieving them.
And no it does not mean that we are 100% certain of how exactly we are going to go about achieving those goals, it just means that even in uncertainty, we feel a sense of inner peace because we know uncertainty is part of the fun.
When we take full responsibility for how our life is going and will go means we set the boundaries for who or what we will put up with. We change the things we can, and accept the things we can’t. If we allow ourselves to settle into this inherent truth about our life, we also give the other people in our life the permission to do the same.
Which means, when someone else in our life tells us they plan to pursue their own version of happiness, whether it means how we want them to or don’t want them to, we accept it. Just like we have the right to pursue our own versions of happiness, they do as well.
Explained this way, things sound like they could be really simple right? Everyone just does what makes them feel the happiest… sounds easy. So why is it so hard for us to navigate through our lives and our relationships with others sometimes?
The problem is boundaries. Many people not only don’t have them, but don’t even know where to start. Their sense of self and self-worth is so tied into how other people think of them or how other people feel about them that they have forgotten to take care of the only person they really have control and responsibility over in this life… themselves.
“Boundaries are a part of self-care. They are healthy, normal and necessary.” ~ Doreen Virtue
When we pay too much attention to the outside world instead of what is going on inside of us we run the risk of losing connection with ourselves. We stop being able to find happiness on the inside so we keep searching for it from the outside, whether it be in romantic relationships, friendships, relationships with employers, or parent-child relationships.
When we don’t become our own well of happiness, and self-worth first and foremost, we run the risk of eliminating all of our boundaries, because we become more concerned with how other people feel about us rather than how we feel about ourselves.
Two of the main motives for not putting up boundaries for ourselves are fear and guilt. A person may be afraid to upset someone else, afraid to make a wrong decision, or be “confrontational” so they allow themselves to stay just a little too long in situations that are detrimental to their own well-being. Guilt, which stems from fear, comes into play when we are not wanting to be seen as the “bad guy”.
When a person’s sense of self depends on another person’s opinion of them, they never want to be the one setting the rules, or making the boundaries because they run the risk of being the one to “blame” if the other person gets upset.
In order to effectively set boundaries for ourselves we must first and foremost bring the attention back to ourselves and our own behavior. Many times we spend so much time thinking about all the things that the other person did to us rather than asking ourselves why we put up for it as long as we have.
We only have the power to control and heal our own selves and behavior so we must make that our main focus. Whether a person is operating from fear or guilt, or most likely a little of both, a reconnection with self is necessary.
When we reconnect with our own feelings, thoughts and behaviors we are much more likely to be successful in setting healthy boundaries because we will know who or what make us feel good, and who or what makes us feel bad. It really can be that simple if we let it.
When a person has been operating from a “no boundaries” standpoint for a long time, learning how to say “no” and mean it may be a little harder at first, but far from impossible. It will take time and practice.
But if we focus on the bigger picture of our lives we come to a harsh reality that most people don’t think of when they allow themselves to stay stuck in unhealthy relationships. There is no “prize” in the end for sticking through an unhealthy relationship, for allowing your kids to walk all over you, for staying working for a manipulative boss for 40 years.
At the end of your life no one will say, “Good for him! He worked for that manipulative boss all those years and was mistreated and unhappy, he really stuck it out!” Nor will they say “Oh it’s so commendable that she allowed herself to be mistreated by that man for 20 years and never lived the life she truly wanted.”
Bottom line, the more time we spend in places that don’t make us happy, the more time we lose enjoying the true pleasures of life. Spending time doing hobbies that we love or around people who make us happy. It is not selfish, it is NECESSARY to make our own happiness should be our number one priority.