I’m one of those women whose girlfriends share their deepest, darkest secrets with… the heavy stories or things that hold them back, that keep them down, that dull their shine. I’ve been there… I get it. In my 35 years on this planet, I’ve definitely had a rollercoaster of life experience that has on occasion left me broken or bruised… but I always get back up. And I’m happy to lend an ear when others are knocked down.
Recently, a girlfriend of mine, who is usually the most funny, engaging, bright and vivacious women I’ve ever met, has been going through a big life transition. And during this time, SO MANY THINGS are being brought out of her. Between facing her own feelings of insecurity and self-doubt, dealing with transition, and then judgments and expectations of others, she has more than had her hands full. She described this situation where someone tried to cross a clear boundary she’d set, and how she’d stood up for herself. Great, right? Well, you’d think so, but she felt BAD… she felt GUILTY… like she wasn’t worthy of asserting herself.
And ladies and gents… that’s where we have a problem.
Let’s go over a couple of basic ground rules:
- You’re allowed to say no when someone asks you to do something, go somewhere, do anything that for whatever reason (you’re totally entitled to your reasons!) doesn’t resonate with you.
- You don’t have to keep doing things that you don’t want to do. Like I said in the Self-Love Manifesto: if it doesn’t nourish your soul, get rid of it.
- You are not obligated to talk to people who don’t respect you or your feelings, and who dull your shine.
- It’s totally okay (nay, IMPERATIVE) to establish boundaries. Whether it’s your time, your space, or distance… you call the shots, and you need to do what’s right for you.
Doing these things doesn’t make you a bitch. It doesn’t make you selfish. It doesn’t make you a bad person.
You are the boss of you. Period. Full stop.
So where does this muscle flexing business come in?
Those first few times when you start to stand up for yourself… to hold solid boundaries… to make yourself and your needs a priority… it may get uncomfortable. For two reasons… Firstly, because people around you are going to expect you to be the way you always have been. When you behave differently than what they expect, they will react. They will project their stuff onto you, their expectations of how you SHOULD behave. There may be guilt trips or hostility. (As a general rule, people don’t handle hearing “no” very well.) This is where you need to step out of the scenario and see things for what they are… this is about them… it’s not about you. As I said above – you’re the boss of you. So only YOU get to decide if you change. And if you’ve made a change for the better and they don’t like it, tough titties. So you need to flex a little and stand your ground.
However, this brings me to the second point… when upholding healthy boundaries and making your needs a priority feels weird to YOU. This is what happened with my friend… between people projecting onto her the “shoulds” and “coulds” of how they expected her to behave, and then her own breach in confidence and self-care from the trauma of the transition, she felt wrong somehow, for honouring herself. So I gave her the muscle analogy…
Whenever you go to the gym for the first time, and you work out REALLY HARD… it hurts a bit… and the next day, it may hurt a bit more… but it’s good for you. And the more you go, the more those muscles get used to being worked, and the easier it gets, and the stronger you get… This is basically the emotional gym, and the muscles you’re working are confidence, boundaries, and self-love. Every time you choose to honour yourself, the muscles get stronger, and every time the triggering events come up, handling them becomes a bit easier. It’s all practice. You have to learn to crawl before you walk… and walk before you run… This kind of transformation doesn’t happen over night, but it is OH SO POSSIBLE.
Feeling good about who you are, and honouring where you’re at is your mothereffing birth right. Get into the world and practice choosing you, each and every day.