Once upon a time, I was a kid who was strong-willed and bull-headed, two adjectives that were used to describe me frequently. In my parent/teacher conferences, they were told I was talkative and bossy.
What can I say? I knew what I and everyone else around me should have been doing and I wasn't afraid to tell everyone about it. I also called people out when I felt like they were being disrespectful, or saying/doing things that were wrong. I didn't allow people to treat me or anyone else badly.
I'd like to point out that those qualities have served me well in my career, just in case you're worried about how your kids may turn out if they ever get those labels.
The thing is, I lost that IDGAF attitude when my babies were little. When we have kids, some of us change a little bit. We're no longer the happy-go-lucky ladies we once were. And it's doubly hard when you're going through postpartum depression and have a kid with special needs. I am not sure I ever got over the PPD in the years between the births of my two children.
Then, when my babies were 4.5 and almost 1, we moved to a new state and we knew not one other soul. I was a SAHM to two kids, neither of which were walking yet due to Jamie's CP and Riley being under a year old. I tried to mold myself to fit in with the other ladies in my new neighborhood. Looking back, I don't know if they didn't like me because I was new or because they could tell I wasn't being the real me.
I did actually GAF. I wanted so desperately to be liked by them that I was willing to change just about every aspect of my personality to fit in. When even that didn't make them like me, I was really lonely.
I quit calling out things that weren't right. Things that I didn't agree with. So, when they gossiped about the other ladies in the 'hood, I didn't say anything. I didn't gossip with them, I just didn't say anything about it. So, by not picking sides, I had picked sides. "You're either with us or against us"
One thing's for certain, I spent a lot of time trying to be liked by people I didn't even like. And once I realized that I quit trying. I quit engaging. I no longer waved at them in the neighborhood or tried to be part of their group. I made my boundaries clear.
We have to set boundaries for things we will allow and things we won't. Since that time about 15 years ago, I have my boundaries and I no longer allow things that don't serve me into my life, my brain, my heart anymore.
You have to know your limits. You have to know what you stand for and against. Without this, you don't know where your boundaries are.
I don't allow racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc in my orbit. I don't like people who are constantly negative or draining of my energy to be in my head. So, I don't engage. I don't like guilt trips, so I don't put up with it.
Allow your feelings to lead you. Are you feeling taken advantage of? Or resentment? Or underappreciated? Or anxious about an interaction with someone?
Let them go. Move on from that person or situation. You may feel better to tell that person in that situation how you're feeling, but then just let it go.
Be honest with people about what you will and won't allow.
Maintaining healthy boundaries is about your energy. If someone is sucking the life out of you, and you feel you can be direct with them, do so. Otherwise, let it go and move on.
For instance, I don't enjoy being class mom. I've talked about this before, but I know my strengths and it's not in planning parties and chaperoning trips for my kid's class. Her teacher needs more supplies or money for a project - whatever - I'm the first one to donate my money. I do not donate my time because to me, it's too precious of a commodity. I give of myself to my loved ones, but I cannot give my time to the school anymore.
Feel the emotions you're feeling, acknowledge them, and then let them go.
The emotions you're feeling allow you to understand what's actually happening. Are you feeling fear? Anger? Self-doubt? How are you reacting emotionally to what's happening in your interaction with another person? These are clues as to what your boundaries should be. When you allow the emotions to come into play, you're granting yourself the right to learn from them. But don't dwell in that situation. Feel it, acknowledge it, then let it go.
Self-care is your priority.
When you allow the expectations of someone else to override your boundaries, they will walk all over you. You don't have to fall prey to anyone else's expectations of how you should react to them. If, for instance, your partner is trying to push your buttons, it's easy to allow that to happen and the situation escalates. If you just say, "I need you to give me a few minutes to process" you are no longer allowing them to knock down your boundaries and you are taking time for your self-care.
We women are so good at putting others first, even when it's detrimental to our own mental health. We need to focus more on reinforcing our boundaries.
Be bossy. Be assertive. Be demanding.
I know I've talked a lot about "allowance" here. It really is about what you will allow someone else to do in your life, in your home, in your headspace, in your heart. You have the power, ladies! You have the power to stand up and say, "No more!"
Demand that your boundaries not be crossed. They are YOUR boundaries and you need to protect them. Nobody else will. It's your job to make sure that those lines aren't crossed.
Tell me, what's a boundary you won't allow to be crossed?