You are exhausted. After a long day at work you settle in after dinner for a couple of hours to yourself before you hit bed. Life – on the macro and micro – has worn you out and you need some breathing space.
But here it is… the call you were expecting.
The monthly call asking you to volunteer again.
But, this time… even though you love this group of women. Even though it is a worthy cause. Even though they truly do need the help… you know you will say no this time.
This time you will take care of yourself first.
And just like that, in come the waves of guilt.
Why do – women especially – feel so guilty when we put ourselves first?
Obviously, we believe we are doing something wrong; otherwise, there’d be no guilt.
As if putting ourselves first is something we have to earn through much suffering and pain and, even then, many women struggle with giving themselves “permission” to own their no.
In my experience and research, men do not experience this on the same level as women.
When a man wants to do or not do something, he does what he wants. There’s no apology for it. He claims it and expects that right is his to have. And he is right.
When a woman sets a boundary and follows through on it, even when it is for her own well-being, the monkey-mind sets in…
What are they going to do without me? How will they get by? Is this going to affect how they see me? And probably the truest thought behind it all, “What will they think of me?”.
Our society glorifies self-sacrifice and they have made out self-care to equal selfishness. That’s the game plan. It’s how they keep control.
I’m not going to get into the importance of boundaries because by now, I trust you know that they are mandatory not only in our personal spaces but also for the time in this world in which we now find ourselves.
Here are 3 things you can do when you find yourself feeling guilt over a boundary you have set:
1. Acknowledge what happens – and be honest about it – when you don’t set boundaries. For me, I’ll say it. I’m a total bitch. Really, I feel resentful and I don’t want to be where I am. And ask anyone who knows me – you don’t want to be with me when I’m like that! But what happens for you – in your mind, body and spirit – when you DO NOT set boundaries? How do you feel, how do you act toward others?
2. Be honest about your capacity – some of us are more energetic than others. Some of us like – AND NEED – more activity than others. This isn’t about keeping up or feeling less than when you can’t. It is about being honest about the capacity you have… that means the amount of resources (time, energy, effort, money, attention, etc) you truthfully have available to give. FACT: in today’s world there is less capacity that we each have as a result of what is going on in the world.
3. Be clear about why you set each boundary. I say write then in a journal. A post-it on your phone, a voicenote, an email, a pretty journal that contains all the boundaries you set and why they are important to you. Doesn’t matter how you do it but keep them in a place where you can look at them often until you truly walk the talk of boundary setting and become fully embodied with that practice.
And that is what it is… a practice.
I know I say this all the time but I say it because it is true: all of life is a practice. Most of it involves creating habits that you incorporate, embody and integrate fully into your life so it becomes second nature.
In a society that teaches us that putting ourselves at the top of our to-do lists is selfish, you gotta know you are going to have to put in some extra effort to overcome that conditioning.
The amount of freedom it brings into your life, though, is worth the effort. #InnerPeaceForTheWin
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