There’s this saying that physical health conditions are our bodies sending a message about an underlying emotional health issue. I had to sit with that one for a long time. I have a leaky gut – and I spent at least two years pondering…what’s the message there? Until one day, a magical, transformative book showed up in my life and it hit me: boundaries. Leaky guts literally have compromised boundaries in the intestinal walls, and food particles cross into the blood stream causing anxiety, mental fog, and other discomforts. And just as leaky guts can heal, so too can weak boundaries be redefined. Stick with me for a few minutes, and I will share some starting points for how to honor your needs with better boundaries. Deep work is required here, and your joy is worth it.
A Dynamite Book about Boundaries
One of the resources this journey led me to is a book called Boundary Boss, by psychotherapist Terri Cole. The book is written for women who struggle to say no, who feel like they should be doing more in all areas of their life, who struggle asking for help, and who are overinvested in the decisions and feelings of people they love. In short, she wrote it for women who struggle to identify and honor their own personal boundaries. I’m raising my hand – I needed her wisdom.
I won’t attempt to unhash all of her guidance in a blog post – you need to grab yourself this book (and no, I’m not an affiliate!). That said, boundaries is a topic that anyone struggling with anxiety and depression may need to consider for themselves. So let’s start with something accessible: the rhythms that you and your family follow on a daily and weekly basis.
A Journal Exercise on Boundaries
Tell me, if you could wave a magic wand, would your routine look the way it does? Take out a journal and spend a few minutes really reflecting on this idea. It’s just you and the page here, so you can be really, lovingly honest with yourself.
- What areas in your daily or weekly routine leave you feeling drained?
- Which activities leave you feeling resentful?
- What voices call at you that you wish you could silence or put on the back burner?
- Are there relationships that leave you feeling unworthy, taken for granted, disrespected, or uncared for?
If you were able to fill in detailed answers for any of these questions, then congratulations – you have started your roadmap to a more fulfilling life. You are beginning to understand how to honor your needs with better boundaries.
Now go back and for each of those answers, write down some possibilities for how you would like to alter the scenarios. Maybe you drop some activities so that you can end up going to sleep earlier. Perhaps you hire a mama-helper a little bit during the weekends so you have some dedicated space to take care of whatever you need. Maybe you say no to the friend date that always stresses you out, or you start making date nights with your sweetie finally happen.
The big point here is that you are the pilot of your life. Once you clearly identify which boundaries are being crossed, you can begin to respond in a way that honors your deep needs.
Make Changes, but Be Easy About It
The challenges you face are built into your beautiful life, whether by design or happenstance. And you, dear one, are uniquely in control of how they shift and alter. Just don’t feel like you need to take on that whole list you journaled in one fell swoop. Be easy about it. Be gentle with yourself and those you love. Learning how to honor your needs with better boundaries is hugely transformational, and those around you will need a little space to adjust to your new groove.
Grain by grain, you will move your mountain, and discover the joy that was living inside you the entire time.
With so much love, your joy midwife,