Build Your Boundaries
Several years ago, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to facilitate two workshops at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE). I co-facilitated one of the workshops with my older brother who I only get to see a few times a year because he lives in another state. I was particularly excited because my boyfriend accompanied me on this trip, so this would be their first time meeting one another. Needless to say, we had grand plans.
After all of our presentations were complete, we set out to indulge in stimulating conversation and scrumptious cuisine, after which we'd hit the social scene. We ignited the night with happy hour, a delectable dinner, and dynamic dialogue. While walking, we stumbled upon a lounge that appeared to be the perfect place to play. It was time to get the party started!
Our plans took an interesting turn when approximately thirty minutes into the fun, my brother looked at us with the glazed big brown eyes that all of our siblings and their children have in common and said,
“I’ve hit a wall." My honey and I both burst into uncontrollable laughter because my brother was the main one who acted like he was ready to hang out until the sun came up. Intrigued by his concise clarity and stellar self-awareness, we happily honored his request and retreated for the evening.
This situation appeared to be pure hilarity at the time, but my brother actually gave us a very important lesson about boundaries. We’d anticipated this trip for months and we had looked forward to this particular night out on the town all week. For this reason, my brother could have put his physical and mental health aside just to appease us. Instead, he put his needs first, and in doing so, he inspired us to do the same. That happened five years ago, but to this day, my dearest and I use that same phrase to let each other know when it’s time to shut it down. It means we have reached our capacity for whatever is being asked of us, and that we need space and grace for rest.
In addition to adding, “I’ve hit a wall,” to your radical self-care lexicon, here are a few more fun phrases and practices to add to your repertoire when it comes to communicating your boundaries in a way in which they will be received.
It’s not a hell yes. Life forces us to make decisions to the point of fatigue. Sometimes, we say “yes” simply to be done with the exhausting practice of having to decide. What we find in these instances is that when it’s time to follow through on that lukewarm “yes,” we realize that we probably should have said, “No.”
After hearing the phrase, “If it’s not a ‘Hell Yes!’ it’s probably a No," on the Tim Ferriss show, I’ve made it a regular part of my practice with my clients as I support them in setting boundaries, and as a way to honor the boundaries that I’ve set in multiple areas of my life. My friends and even some of my colleagues will tell you that in response to a request or opportunity that doesn’t light me up, I’m completely comfortable with saying, “It’s not a Hell Yes.”
Space and Grace. We exist in a culture that rewards stretching yourself beyond your capacity. When this happens, failing to honor commitments or deadlines is inevitable. So now, instead of making excuses or avoiding those who I’ve promised a deliverable to, I rhetorically ask for space and grace. This is often appreciated because acknowledgment is more productive than avoidance.
Declare your Day. Saturdays are for me. I spend the day doing things that fill me up and give me energy back. I no longer take on anything that feels like work on Saturdays and it’s non-negotiable. I’ve been so successful at communicating this that people don’t even ask me to do things on Saturdays anymore. They further honor my commitment to self by saying, “I know that you don’t work on Saturday…” or “I’m sorry to text you today, because I know this is your self-care day…”
For many of you, an entire day may not be feasible, so give some thought to what you might declare. This might be a space in your home, even if it is a corner or a closet. It could be an hour of a certain day of the week. It may even be a special snack that no one else gets to touch. Whatever it is, declare that thing that is sacred, special, and just for you.
This week I invite you to build your boundaries by creating a language that is unique to you and how you want to communicate them to the world. Infuse practices that support your boundaries which will help to hold you and others accountable for honoring them.
I am engaging in experiences that excite me.
I am granting myself space and grace.
I am prioritizing my needs.
Master Your Mindset to Manifest a Life You Love. Most Sincerely, Monica Marie Jones Your Soul Journey Guide