This morning I needed a change of scenery from my home office, so I grabbed my laptop and purse and set up shop in a local coffee shop for a few hours of work and people watching. While there, I ran into a woman whom I’ve known casually for a few years. We got to chatting about one another’s day-to-day happenings and how busy life has been. She shared with me that she has been working to find and maintain balance in her life. I nodded in agreement and understanding… knowing all to well how challenging it can be to manage multiple aspects of our lives simultaneously without dropping one of the life balls we’re juggling… and I don’t even have kids! I praise all you mamas out there… I am in awe of you all.
During our conversation I mentioned how balance is largely about boundaries – setting and maintaining them with good intent and grace. It can be hard to set boundaries, especially with loved ones and employers, because boundaries are ultimately about saying no to things. If you’re anything like me (and I’ve been a people pleaser my entire life), boundaries are the bane of my existence. I hate setting them because I feel like a bitch for saying no… and, if I do happen to muster up the courage to make it that far, I often have a hard time maintaining them because I hate disappointing people. I end up caving in or ‘changing my mind’ to accommodate their requests. This is bad for many reasons, but I’ll touch on a few that I’ve experienced personally.
- In fear of letting someone else down, I often let myself down too. I actually get mad at myself when I catch myself saying yes to something I don’t want (or can’t realistically) do… because I’m putting someone else’s needs (or wants) before my own. While this is good sometimes (and I am in no way condoning selfishness)…it’s not good all the time. It teaches us that we’re worth less (not worthless), and that our own needs are less important than someone else’s. Obviously this is a case by case scenario, but use good judgement next time sometime is asking something of you… and be honest in your response.
- Resentfulness. I’ve agreed to help people out when everything in my body and being was telling me ‘no Windy, you need to step back from this one.’ In ignoring my intuition, I ended up feeling bitter or resentful toward the person or situation. This isn’t good for friendship.. and is toxic for your own self. It’s also not that person’s fault that I said yes, and yet I end up blaming them or stewing in resentment. Not cool.
- Imbalance. Sometimes I have to stop and check-in with myself to make sure that I’m giving and receiving in balance. While it’s not always in perfect equilibrium, it’s important to make sure you’re allowing yourself to receive as much as you give. Always giving in (not setting boundaries) wears me thin and burns me out. Sometimes the best thing I can do to receive is to give myself the gift of boundaries.
So give yourself the gift of balance. As long as you set boundaries with good intentions, grace and for the right reasons, people will understand and love you just the same.