Boundaries or the story of the house with no doors.
Updated: Feb 4
When it comes to saying yes to myself, I got it all wrong.
I used to see myself as a generous person when it came to my personal time, someone who is welcoming, always eager to help others because hey, that's a core value for me. I love people and that feels like the right thing to do. (spoiler alert, it's not : but I will get back to that)
It wasn't so much about being at service to others, it was more about being there for the people I cared about because it made me happy. And becoming a mother and a partner to my husband only increased that sense of sharing, of nurturing and joy of being there for the ones you love. And then I went totally overboard with that. Too much of them, not enough of me.
Science will tell you that producing serotonin is a key part of happiness and that when you do things for others, specially if it's spontaneous and genuine, it increases your levels tremendously, triggering that warm feeling inside that makes you feel good.
Now there is a slippery slope to this.
What if you keep doing things for others to the point where it no longer makes you happy and you are stuck with people who expect that from you at all times? I am thinking partners here, children, colleagues or even parents. Yes, parents too...We all know people who always expect you to be there for them but never seem available where you dare to ask for something.
What if you have allowed this so many times that it seems impossible to back track without appearing selfish?
This is exactly where I got it all wrong.
Putting your needs first is not selfish. It's self-care.
But let's get back to the practicalities of it all.
How do you know when giving to others is too much and your freedom and sense of self is threatened?
How can we recognize that fine line when a refusal to comply needs to come in because you are about to replace Seratonin with a horrendous pit in your stomach, gift wrapped with guilt and self-deprecation for saying yes again ? 😰🤢
That's when it's time to introduce BOUNDARIES.
You need to set rules, lines around yourself that mark your territory so you know when it's too much and when helping someone else ends up affecting you. They support you in being true to yourself, to your needs while levelling other people's needs.
And let's be real : you will love them, they will hate them.
Tough, yes, but all sooooo necessary...And the good news is, you can totally do this.
Let's imagine that you built a house with no doors and no windows. And not only would it have no door, but you, as the owner, would be as open as your house and welcome anyone who comes by. You like people so that's what you do.
Very quickly, everyone knows about it and can pretty much come in and do as they please because they know that you are saying yes to that, AND being every generous about it.
You love when your neighbour pops in for tea and a chat or when your kids friends run into your garden to play. But no door clearly means that you are saying yes unconditionally.
How would you feel about the mailman getting some milk from your fridge anytime he pleases ? Strangers coming in at night to take a nap on your couch ? A random teen going through your wardrobe because they want new clothes?
Everything you are and you own in this house would quickly become someone's else's territory, leaving you feeling lost, unsafe and disrespected.
Well, it's exactly the same thing with relationships and boundaries.
You are the house and every room is like a piece of you.
Boundaries are the doors you put in place to make sure that you decide who and when people can come in. They keep you safe, in control and true to who you are. Letting anyone take over one of the rooms is a piece of you that goes away.
You might put locks in certain rooms, open others when you please but you hold the key to that.
Boundaries are those doors that keep us safe and true to who we are, which means that they are as much for us as they are for others.
It's not about what's right for others (I need to always be there for others when they need me), it's about doing what is right for you (I need to make sure that when I open the door, it's ok for me to let that person in)
And that's where true freedom begins.
Next time you want to say yes to something that does not feel right, remember the house and the doors and ask yourself : will this help me feel at home and fill my rooms with joy, or not ? If not, it's ok to close the door and go back to what makes you happy.
Because guess what: seratonin is also born when you practice self-care...
PS : if you want to take your mastery of boundaries to the next level, put yourself on the waitlist for my course and be the first to know about the founding member price ...