Learning the importance of personal boundaries

Just like how most of the girls are brought up, I was also trained to be a “good girl”. A “good girl” in most people’s context is the one who cares for everyone, the one who is nice , kind, loving towards everyone and most importantly, the one who is obedient or in other words the one who follows the path decided for her by her family ,society and culture. Like most “good girls”, I have also been someone who derived a great deal of self-worth from how others accepted me. As someone who has been overweight from childhood and with not such a good looking face, I had to face instant rejections. I was a teenager then and didn’t know any better. So I would go the extra mile for people, stretching myself to extents where I fully forgot about myself. Result ? A little less than a decade later, I had become an emotional doormat. I was emotionally hurt, betrayed, drained and depleted. I knew it was time for deep transformation. I had to learn how to love myself enough to keep my cup full by myself. An important part of self love is learning to set personal boundaries. There is no love without boundaries.

As we know , boundaries are limits we set with others, which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behaviour towards us. It helps us manage our energies better in a way to enhance our personal wellbeing.

Personal boundaries have two key features – Identifying your boundaries and setting your boundaries.

The ability to know our boundaries generally comes from a healthy sense of self-worth. Self-worth is valuing yourself in a way that is not dependant on how other people feel towards you. It involves being very mindful of your –

a) Intellectual worth and boundaries
b) Emotional worth and boundaries
c) Physical worth and boundaries
d) Social worth and boundaries
e) Spiritual worth and boundaries

Many people say that identifying your boundaries is the easier part and setting them is the tougher one. This was true in my case. But I have noticed that with people who have undergone a lot of emotional abuse from their early age, they are so use to pain that identifying boundaries can be a very tough task. In such a case, how does one identify boundaries ? An effective way is to observe the body sensations. You might feel a sense of contraction in many parts of the body or a sense of loosing energy or a feeling of crying in some intense cases. The moment you identify it, you have to be honest with yourself and tell yourself what you truly feel.

Two of the biggest hurdles I have faced while setting boundaries is fear and guilt. Fear of loosing people who might no more like me and guilt for making myself a priority. I’m also aware that these are most common hurdles faced by many. What helped me was asserting within myself that I can make better choices and a better choice was making myself the utmost priority. Of course since I also meditate, breathing in and out of these thoughts until they settle in without any resistance helps.

A big part of setting boundaries is communicating it in a way that doesn’t offend the other. I taught myself to be mindful of communicating only about what is ok and not ok with me instead of telling someone else what they should do and shouldn’t with me. I was fully aware that people might get offended anyway and they might reject or accept my words both of which were really OK with me. I fully accept any consequence of it as my choice and no one to blame. This worked like magic. I was getting into lesser fights with people, I was breaking older patterns with my friends and family which they had many a times no response to. It made such huge differences in my daily life. For the ones who don’t understand my words, my last resort has always been and is a stubborn silence.

Although still an ongoing struggle, learning to set personal boundaries was a blessing. I might not fit into the category of a “good girl” in many aspects, but I know within that I’m heartful in most of my interactions which comes from a space of expansion and not contraction.

Decluttering the mind in our workplace

Minimalism has gained it’s momentum for all the right reasons. Though not everyone wants to be a minimalist, but the ideas of reducing your possessions, could be given some thought and focus specially when it can affect your productivity. Be it your closet or office desk or desktop screen, excess possessions / things in your surroundings can impact your focus and the ability to process information negatively. Neuroscientists at Princeton University, looked at people’s task performance in an organized vs disorganized environment and found that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress levels. Physical clutter overloads your senses, making you feel stressed, and impacts your ability to think creatively.

Nothing really lasts forever. We don’t accept that reality easily. Most of us gradually learn that no matter what happens, you have to move on. But you can also train yourself to become better at saying goodbye to things. We tend to accumulate a lot of things in the name of memory or sheer ego satisfaction or other forms of attachment. It doesn’t matter what the possession is, we can get attached to it. Decluttering is also an exercise to cope better with loss. It can be a way to keep reminding ourselves that everything is borrowed. We use it for a while and it gets passed on. Everything! Literally Everything!

Everyone’s perception and tolerance for clutter is different. Some people need clutter to an extent to feel the need to get things done. While clutter has been shown to negatively effect your performance, it is your perception of clutter that matters. You should seek to create spaces that make you feel peaceful and good. Before everything, be mindful of how clutter defines to you.

So, where can you apply the de-cluttering in your work to improve your productivity?

Emails: Every time you go into your inbox, clear out a batch. Like, archive/delete the ones you don’t need or better yet, unsubscribe. Organise your inbox to your convenience like either tagging it to a label or moving it to different folders. You can do all of that in 5 minutes. Then get out of the inbox. Repeat later when you login in next.

Work tasks: As you go through your day, in between the important tasks of checking social media, watching videos and playing games. why not take care of mini-tasks for work? Break bigger tasks into things you can do in a few minutes which can help you on a later time when you need.

Office Desk: Usually we land up saving a lot of stuff from old projects or older tasks that are no more needed. We can slowly clear them out once and how things get done. Clearing out that coffee mug in time once you are done with your coffee.

Desktop and pen drives: Having a cluttered desktop every time you turn on your computer can give you a constant uneasy feeling. At the end of each day, remove every file from your desktop. If you don’t have an immediate place to move the file, create one folder on your desktop and drop the stray files in there.

Bags: Arrange your money and cards in a way that feels easy. We tend to save a lot of bills and unwanted things in out bags. Clear out everything that’s not needed for your current project or environment. Organise the spaces in your bags in a way that feels light to carry.

Clutter, be it physical or digital, is something we’ll always have to deal with but it can be controlled the way we want it to be. Steering your own streams of consumption will give you a sense of power and a freed mind, leaving room for you to create and experience life without constantly depending on others to fill your cup.