Not so long ago I met a friend for a long overdue coffee date. This young woman, a brilliant scientist was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I could see she was downright exhausted and drained – emotionally and physically. As we rushed through our meeting, I gently asked her why she doesn’t slow down a bit. She replied, shocked ‘I can’t. Everyone will fall apart.’
The painful truth is ‘NOBODY will fall apart except YOU, if you are not taking care of yourself.’ Easier said than done for most women, but the key to having a good quality of life starts by accepting that your time and energy are finite resources and you need to manage them. HOW? By creating and maintaining boundaries. Boundaries are those invisible non-negotiable lines that define your needs – emotional, physical, financial, social and with respect to relationships. It is a benchmark/a checklist that lets you know how far you are willing to stretch yourself. In short, it helps you to SAY NO. So that you can say YES to things that matter.
Women Planet has some pointers to get you started!
- First ME, then WE – Stop putting your needs on the back-burner. It does not mean turning into a lazy sloth overnight, but rather honoring your physical and emotional needs on the same priority level as that of your loved ones. Prioritize your exercise, your vitamins and that glass of juice!
- Safety comes first– Too many women are victims of being overtly sympathetic. Being a woman does NOT mean that you have to help, you have to be kind or you have to bend over double to get things sorted. Put things into perspective. Give your safety a thumbs up before offering help in unforeseen or uncomfortable situations.
- Listen to your body and gut – Literally! Intuition lives in your body, so pay attention to your body symptoms when you feel something is wrong. Many women override their gut feeling all the time, under the pretext that it isn’t important. Better be safe, than sorry!
- Honor your YES and NO – Words have no value unless they are spoken with intention, feelings and honored. People with weak boundaries will override their decisions all the time, resulting in resentment and waste of time. If you do not value your words, others won’t. So think, and say what you mean. Mean what you say.
- Three strikes and out! – Patience is a virtue. But not when dealing with energy sucking people. Be fair to people in your life, but know when to cut them out. If your boundaries are being broken, promises are left empty – then 3 strikes and then just cut off these negative nonsense from your life. The person who values a second chance in your life, won’t ever push it for a third!
- Actions speak louder than words – Always! Watch what people do and if their words and actions are not in alignment, don’t kid yourself that tomorrow is a better day. Mistakes happen, but then they are one time affairs. A mistake repeated twice is simply either intentional or driven by habit. Simple.
- Be attentive – I see scores of women completely unaware of their immediate surroundings, immersed in their phones, or busy chatting. It’s great to gossip but not at the cost of becoming an easy target for miscreants. Walk confidently, and notice things around you. You will be better equipped to handle any unforeseen circumstances.
- Respect your cut-off time – Big time! If 11 pm is your deadline to hit the sack, make sure you adhere to it most of the times. You should have very strong reasons to not commit to your own cut-off times. Else you will end up spending your time and energy on people and at places that hold no value for you.
- ME-TIME minus guilt – Scores of women struggle with guilt for indulging in some ME Time. We often forget that the various roles we straddle everyday would be null and void if we cease to exist. Take time to unwind and connect with your Self, every day. A nice bubble bath, good books, music, art, dance or just maybe lounging with a cup of coffee, respect yourself enough to enjoy your own company. It’s a non-negotiable rule.
Remember, when you create strong boundaries, you will find the right group of people to hang out with. As I said, boundaries are invisible lines that you set for yourself, so keep room for flexibility. Enforcing boundaries requires patience and some skilful management – do so without coming across as extremely rigid or rude. The purpose of boundaries is to create a life that you will cherish and live with pride – set your intentions right and go, girl! See the magic happen.