Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Building better boundaries


"Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love and respect ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others." 
~Brene Brown

Cotswold Cottage at Greenfield Village / Cindy La Ferle


All of us need boundaries. While it's natural to enjoy social connection, there are times when we have to draw an invisible line between ourselves and others. This can be a challenge, especially in a tell-all culture that revolves around social media and digital devices. 

Boundaries help us define our limits, protect our privacy, and foster emotional health. We need them to maintain family harmony as well as our friendships. 

Regardless, many of us feel obligated to remain available to others, 24/7.

When I was a young mom, for instance, I worried that I'd appear selfish if I didn't provide free child care, editorial service, taxi service, or crisis intervention for everyone who had my phone number. I was a people-pleaser, and my boundaries were flimsy. I learned the hard way that being a nice person, a loving parent, a good friend, and a team player didn't mean that I had to leave the door open for everyone at all times. It took a while, but I discovered that the roof didn't collapse when I said no.

I also discovered that living out loud -- on social media -- makes it twice as hard to establish boundaries.

Back when I used Facebook and Twitter, I fell into a compulsive pattern of posting updates on where I'd been, what I'd eaten, movies I'd seen, people I'd spent time with, or what I was thinking at any given moment. I did so because everyone else was doing the same thing, and I believed that having a social media "presence" was expected of me. Likewise, I felt obligated to check (and answer) my email every half hour. 

To protect our boundaries online, experts advise that we use discretion when we post on social media. And we shouldn't let anyone make us feel guilty for guarding our privacy or minding our own business.

When who we are becomes confused with what others think of us or expect of us, our boundaries get blurred or completely knocked down. Healthy boundaries give us the dignity -- and the breathing space -- to manage our own lives, ultimately making it easier to offer our support, special favors, or a listening ear when the time is right. ~Cindy La Ferle


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