One of the most important lessons I tried to learn in 2022 was ‘setting boundaries’. I am not very good at it but had gotten to a stage in my life where I could no longer ignore how much it took out of me, and how unhealthy it truly was. In looking back at my life, I was able to see how I poured so much of myself into friendships that I got nothing from to the point where it was toxic. And so, in taking stock of my life and making plans for a better year, I promised myself I would learn to set better and healthier boundaries.
Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.Prentis Hemphill
In setting the intention to never give more of my energy than is given to me, I had a lot of unlearning to do. I also discovered a lot about what I like and don’t like when it comes to nurturing friendships.
- I automatically put twice as much into friendships that put next to nothing into our relationship. I have not yet unpacked why that is. All I know is that it is toxic, and being aware I’m doing it has been enough to help me take a step back. I’ve not always been successful, but in 2022, I tried more than I ever have. I feel passionately about continuing that on to the new year.
- Sometimes, just saying ‘no’ when you feel pressured into saying ‘yes’ is a big win. I cannot truly explain how good it feels to stand up for yourself without having to lie about your ‘no’s.
- I don’t count money as ‘effort’. I can buy myself flowers, as the great Miley says. What I value is time, and the little things! I received a long love letter from a friend for my birthday, and I found that I cherished that so much more than all of the presents I received that year. Knowing someone took the time and effort to reach me how I like to be reached made me realise that there are people who love and cherish you enough to show you that they do.
- Your life needs a spring cleaning every now and then, and that includes friendships. If the only time you get to see a person is when you’re doing them a favour, and if the only time you hear from them is when THEY need something, then it’s time to let go. Much like with a see-saw, if your friend pulls back, you need to pull back too. That’s the only way to find a healthy balance. This was one of my biggest lessons from 2022.
- Understanding how people like to receive or accept love is so important if you cherish that relationship in your life. The boy, for example, needs words of love and affirmation. I don’t. My love language is quality time and acts of service. Adding me to your calendar or sending me a TikTok video you hate but know I’d love — those are the ways in which I know you love me. Matching your acts of friendship to their love language is an underrated act of love. This year, I aim to do more of that.
- Advocating for yourself is not selfish. It’s an act of self-care. If there’s something I want to take with me into this new year, it’s understanding when to let go of something that doesn’t serve you; it’s understanding that boundaries work both ways, and respecting that; it’s understanding when someone can’t match your energy — and knowing the difference between that and people not making an effort at all; it’s making the choice to break the cycle and spring clean relationships that no longer serve you.
It’s been a long and hard journey but I feel so much more myself when I stand up for myself this way. Have you ever had to set a boundary in any of your relationships? Did it work out for you? Were you late bloomer like I have been? How do you feel about boundaries? Let me know.
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I’m very much still in the learning stages of setting boundaries, but each micro-step is so freeing that I wonder why it took me so long to get started! Getting over the feeling of selfishness and putting myself first is a tough one, with friends AND family.
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Amen to that, especially the family part! X
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