My therapist’s office is light blue-greenish. It is a calm color, a color that doesn’t disturb the thoughts and words that land on its walls.
Together, in that blue-greenish room, my therapist and I walked through and defined my realm of control. My boundaries. My hula-hoop. She, essentially, taught me where Courtney ended and the world began. I had spent so much time making sure my worlds, family and social circles liked me that I had no understanding of my own autonomy. I didn’t know if I liked myself. I didn’t know myself. Learning the discipline of boundaries walked me back to myself.
Boundaries, simply defined, are your realm of control, or as my therapist and I call it, your hula-hoop. In each of our hula-hoops are the things we can control in any given day and in any given circumstance. You are the only thing you can control on any given day.
In your hoop is your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, the way you care for your body, your choices, your behavior, your reactions, your finances, you. Not your children, not your spouse, not your momma or your daddy or the ladies in your church group or your friends or the guy in the Target checkout line. The whole, wide world is outside of your hoop.
So what does that mean for people pleasers like me? Well, it means that we can be free. When we understand that people’s thoughts and opinions about us are outside of our realms of control, and we can go on living our lives accordingly. We work to separate our feelings from other people’s feelings, and we get the opportunity to know ourselves truer and deeper.
Boundaries help us understand that it is OK if others are mad at us. If we make a choice for our lives that other people do not agree with, we can respectfully choose to allow them to hold their opinions without the opinion impacting what we believe about ourselves. Remember, they reside outside of our realms of control.
As a recovering perfectionist, I can assure you that boundaries can and will help you breathe a little easier. When I learned that I didn’t need to control every environment, every person, every outcome I got healthier. My anxiety reduced significantly. I let go of micromanaging my husband (still working on this), let my kids just be kids, allowed others to be themselves and went on about my business.
There is much to explore regarding boundaries, but starting with a simple, “no thank you, that doesn’t work for me,” will get you on your way to reclaiming your mental and emotional wellness. The hula-hoop really does change the game.
Make sure to check out the book, “Set Boundaries Find Peace,” by licensed therapist and boundaries expert Nedra Tawwab. You can do this. Let it go.
Courtney Misener is a writer, speaker and emotional health rebel. She has worked with nonprofits, start-ups and companies both small and large to provide tools that promote emotional health, respectful communication, awareness around depression and empathy, self-affirmations and self-care and how to establish healthy boundaries with others and ourselves. She serves as the director of programs and engagement at House of Hope and is working on a Masters in Developmental Psychology from Walden University.