October is a month designated for many causes, including breast cancer awareness and domestic violence awareness. The way I look at it, they’re all connected. Emotional wellness is about having a positive attitude, high self-esteem, a strong sense of self and the ability to name and claim your feelings and express them in a positive way – including naming and claiming things like anger, resentment and disappointment. Also, emotional wellness means that you have good boundaries – like, for example, that can say "no" when you need to without feeling guilty. It also means that you can feel that the people in your life support you. Generally speaking, emotional wellness means you feel good about who you are and who you are becoming.
Given that definition, on an emotional wellness scale of 1-10, where are you? If you aren't a 10, where is the gap? Here are a few questions that can help you narrow it down:
- Do you feel like people don't listen?
- Do you feel that people take advantage of you or use you?
- When you say 'no' do people think that's just the start of a negotiation to get you to do something that you don't want to do?
- Do you need to feel safer in your home or workplace - maybe even with your friends?
- Are you afraid you'll hurt people or that they won't like you if you say 'no' to them?
If you answered 'yes' to any of those, you need to have better or stronger boundaries.
Boundaries are what you put into your life that teaches people how to treat you. I saw a therapist once who gave me a boundaries "assignment" for two weeks. I failed miserably. He looked me right in the eyes and said, "Annmarie, you have terrible boundaries." Then he told me why. I don't think I didn't know about boundaries, or that I didn't have many good ones, but hearing someone say it was the proverbial two-by-four between the eyes. I think that changed my life. Choosing and implementing stronger boundaries wasn't an easy task and it took some time. But the effort has been worth it.
Here's the one BEST TIP I can give you to start creating better and stronger boundaries: When asked for a favor, don't make any snap decisions. Simply say, "let me think about it and I'll let you know [specify a time, like "later today" or "by 6 o'clock" or "I'll check my schedule/calendar and let you know tomorrow."
Give it a try. You'll be amazed at how well it works.
And please share you experiences with others on this post so they can know that better boundaries makes a difference. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!