When it comes to boundaries and standing up for yourself, it’s anything but smooth sailing. In fact, most of the time the process of learning to be strong for you comes with a lot of trial and error, challenges so emotionally taxing that you wonder if it’s even worth it, and leaves you feeling so vulnerable.

There’s a difference between standing up for yourself in a selfish way and standing up for yourself from a place of inner strength and resolve. So, especially if you struggle to strong with your boundaries because you’re afraid of being seen as selfish- let’s look at the real difference here!

Selfishly “Standing” Up For Yourself:

  • Only being open to your way, without any outer considerations
  • Demanding whatever is easiest and most convenient for you
  • Changes depending on what feels best in the moment
  • Aims to controlling others and outcomes
  • Caring only about your needs being met

Standing From A Place Of Inner Strength:

  • You’re able to see the big picture and understanding it has helped you recognize your needs
  • It is not always easy but you understand the importance
  • Is something you stand behind regardless of if the outcome changes
  • Caring about more than just yourself, yet still prioritizing your inner needs

I think it’s important to distinguish these two different approaches to boundary setting, because you can see here that the difference between actually being selfish, and choosing to prioritize your needs. This matters because standing up for yourself is NOT easy; it’s vulnerable, intense, and stressful on the body, heart, and mind.

While I can’t tell you what to do, only you can make the best decisions you can for yourself and those whose lives your decisions affect, here are a few important things to keep in mind:

1) Have A Plan In Place

Trying to stick to some kind of boundary without a plan is like trying to hoist your body up against a door that someone’s trying to break through. Sure it can be effective in the moment, but you’re in a constant state of tug and war and eventually you’ll get tired, they’ll break through, and your tactics will have to change.

Creating a plan you can stick with looks like getting really clear about your what, why, and how. What’s the heart of the issue, why this matters to you, and how you need to move forward.

Try the great boundary setting technique that includes making sure your how involves only you. Your boundaries cannot change other people’s behaviors but rather your own. (Example, if you can’t talk on the phone between 8-5 while you’re working you can’t simply demand others not to call you, but you can not answer their calls.)

2) Start Small As Trial and Error Is Required

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither can the brand new version of you that feels incredibly capable at creating, setting, and maintaining boundaries. In the beginning you might try out a boundary and then quickly begin to see where it’s not realistic or can’t be maintained. By starting small this will help you stick with it, and rework the framework as needed.

3) Eventually Things Change

With this I encourage you to take it day by day, or situation by situation. It’s best not to think all the way into next year, or how this will affect the rest of your life. Even with the big things, you never know how and when life or others will change over time, and you can’t predict or ever know what that will look like- so don’t try. It will only add stress you don’t need to this already difficult process. Whenever you’re at the line in the sand where something needs to change, just take it one step at a time.

4) Leave Space To Grieve

Finally, you must remember that whenever you’re moving through this kind of work in your life, a certain amount of grief also comes. This might show up as the many stages of grief like feeling angry, in denial, or depressed. It can also show up as overwhelming sadness, “why me”, or lots of time processing what it should have been like instead. This is normal, and something that a licensed therapist can really help with if you need clinical or professional support.

However, there are many kinds of self love and self care practices that can go a long way in supporting you on this journey. Tools like: meditation, monthly rituals, mindfulness practices, daily affirmations, and gentle yoga that can help you slow down and make space for what you’re going through. These are all tools that I specialize in helping others cultivate in their life, so please try our A Bit From Within patreon platform for a month and see how each new week of topics along with a huge catalog of support on different topics could help you! Also feel free to hear more from Felicia on this topic on our companion podcast episode. You can listen to it here below, on Apple, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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