We all have boundaries. There are certain things we just wouldn't do. No matter what.
Then there are the other boundaries, you know the ones - the boundaries which are a little wonky. The boundaries which we are a little unsure of and struggle to assert. The ones which lead to resentment, anxiety and anger.
When we become self-aware about what we'd like our boundaries to look like, we make inroads in identifying what our needs are and of how we'd like to be treated by others.
Yes, there will always be people who feel unsettled by that changing landscape. It doesn't always suit them and the way they'd like things to be. They want to be able to keep asking you for help, knowing you'll accept.
It's not easy to assert boundaries, it can feel really icky. We want to be kind, we want to be liked and we don't like letting others down.
Yet, when we bend over backwards to accommodate others, our needs are often pushed aside.
This is why boundaries are so important - they allow our needs to be met. They also signal to others what our standards are. What we'll accept and not accept.
Although, recognising that you have wonky boundaries is a good start. Being assertive with those boundaries is next. Here are five ways to help with that:
1. Appreciate your worth
It can be difficult to see how brightly our own light shines. Negative experiences and thoughts can undermine our sense of self-worth. But we all matter and deserve the very best.
Let your boundaries reflect that. Allow them to set parameters around who you are. How you'd like to be treated. What feels comfortable, what's acceptable to you and what's not acceptable to you?
2. Defer decision making
When we're put on the spot, it's hard to say 'no'. Especially when we're so used to saying an emphatic 'yes'.
Allow yourself the time to really consider the decision before committing to it. Buy some time to think.
A simple, "Can I get back to you on that?" works wonders.
You can then decline via text or email if that feels more comfortable.
3. Say yes to you
There are times when we have given so much of ourselves to others, that there's nothing left in the tank for us.
Say 'no' to anything you don't want to do. It's your given right. When you do things for others, it's a gift of your time, energy and resources. It should feel that way too. Not a burden to you or something which is expected of you.
4. Consider how things make you feel
It's important that we pay heed to our feelings and are honest with ourselves.
You see, our feelings are our signposts - they guide us to make decisions, tell us what works for us and what doesn't. They teach us our limits, help us to firm up our boundaries and to reflect, flex and grow.
Listening to how we feel and being mindful of those feelings, can help us to make healthier decisions. Highlighting existing wonky boundaries.
5. Give yourself permission to change your mind
Life is a continuum of change. The planet evolves. Our skin renews. Our experiences change us. Our circumstances change. Other people change. What was once right for you, may not be right for you right now. It can be difficult to explain that transience because we don't always understand it ourselves - why something which once felt right, no longer does.
Changing your mind doesn't mean that you're 'wishy washy'. It's a reflection of how you are continuing to grow as a person. That you are mindful of your boundaries and are working hard to ensure they are always right for you. It's progress.
Jayne Hardy is the Founder of The Blurt Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting those affected by depression.