Midlife Musings: Debra Johnstone
Boundaries are personal guidelines we set as to how we want to live our lives and how we want to be treated.
They are a tricky phenomenon really. Especially for women because it often takes a long time to see a need for them. And then when we do, it’s quite difficult to set them.
“Women learn from a young age that it’s our job to put others first.”
Boundary Setting Increases Self-Worth:
This is because there can be a lot of guilt around setting boundaries. Women learn from a young age that it’s our job to put others first. I feel this is changing, but certainly, women in midlife and beyond were often raised that way.
Let’s face it our mothers were probably born in the 1930’s and 1940’s when females didn’t really know how to put themselves first. They’d watched their own mothers prioritising others needs and they followed suit. Then of course we tended to do the same thing.
It’s only now decades later that boundaries have become widely talked about. A much needed topic of conversation but it’s still fairly new. And because we tend to follow family patterns, women in general sometimes feel quite selfish when they put their own needs first.
Boundary Setting Is Not Selfish It Is Self-Preserving:
Setting sustainable boundaries is a key part to living a fulfilled and vibrant second half. It’s actually an essential part of self-care.
Not asserting how we want to live our life and how we want to be treated means we’re not valuing ourselves. When we act this way we give our power away and this drains our energy. We’re also letting others know that it’s okay to treat us in a way we’re not happy with. Over time this lowers our self-worth.
Remember nothing changes until we change. When we change one part of a dynamic, the other part has no choice to but change.
By setting boundaries and standing firm to them we show how much we value ourselves. Other people learn to treat us with love and respect. It may take time to re train them depending on how long they’ve been behaving that way. But eventually, we’re treated in a way that we want and deserve.
And you do deserve to be treated with love and respect. No matter what choices you have made in the past. Or what you have believed about yourself.
“Your strengths, gifts and what makes you who you are now.”
Gaining A Strong Sense Of Self Helps Raise Your Self-Worth:
When you know yourself completely and learn to love each part of who you are, your self-worth increases. This makes it easier to find the courage to set boundaries. This means getting clear on your core values and what’s important to you. Your strengths, gifts and what makes you who you are now.
Rediscovering your own uniqueness gives you a very strong sense of self. With this increase in confidence you are more inclined to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. It is a liberating process to go through.
Decide How You Want To Be Treated And Make A Stand For Yourself:
You deserve to be treated in exactly the way you want to. This isn’t about becoming what’s known as a ballbreaker. We don’t have to be threatening or dominant to communicate our boundaries. It’s still possible to communicate our needs with love and respect. In fact it’s important that we do, because our message will be heard a lot easier.
Just make sure that your message is clear and precise with no room for misinterpretations. That may mean writing it down first and gaining clarity on exactly what you want to say. You may even want to practice saying it beforehand. This is because the more familiar you are with your boundary yourself the more comfortable you’ll feel stating it.
“We can be our own worst enemy at times with the best of intentions.”
Sticking To Your Own Boundaries Is Vital:
We can be our own worst enemy at times with the best of intentions. One of the reasons we find a need to set boundaries is because of behaviour we’ve demonstrated ourselves. By not standing up for our needs in the past we’ve given permission to be treated badly.
So setting boundaries is as much about us changing our own behaviour as it is about the requests we’re making of others. If we want our boundaries to be honoured then we must respect them ourselves.
Once you’ve set those new guidelines it’s important you don’t step outside of them. The minute you do you’re saying nonverbally that it’s okay if other people do so too.
Remember It Can Take Time To Change:
Don’t lose heart if people slip up here and there. It takes time to change patterns and get used to the new you. The more you stick to your own boundaries and speak out when needed the more your self-worth will increase. And eventually it will feel normal to those around us.
About the Author:
Deb Johnstone is a Transformational Mindset Coach and a Midlife Transition Mentor. Experiencing midlife transition herself, she wanted work with more meaning and started her coaching practice in 2012. After the death of her father in 2019 and processing her grief, Deb experienced a deep loss of self where her identity felt challenged. It was through this that she felt the calling to work with women in this phase of life. It is now her mission to support women to transition midlife and beyond feeling confident, empowered and free to be your true self and live the life you want and deserve. You can connect with Deb on Facebook through The Empowered MidLife Woman where she posts insights daily, or connect with her through her website.