Do Not Enter

I spend quite a bit of time in the Carolina mountains.

There is a simple hike to the top of the mountain that is a great way to start the day. It’s about 3 miles with a gradual and steady incline – perfect for the girl from Florida who is more accustomed to a flat surface and an altitude that runs right at sea level. At the top of this hike, there is a gate – and a stern warning not to go any further. Under penalty of law and possibly even death… the warning is pinned to a tree about 10 feet in, and pinned to the next tree is a message stating clearly, no bicycles.  The point being, you better stay out of here, but if you do come through, it damn better not be on a bike. It’s hard to take that warning too seriously. The message cracks me up every time.

The signs of course are an attempt of the property manager to provide some sort of control over the assets in his charge when he’s not around. Boundaries are a good thing.

As women, we’re sometimes not very good at setting and keeping the boundaries we need to live fulfilling and successful lives. In fact, I’d venture to say most of us don’t even actively think about boundaries all that much. But let me assure you, boundaries are needed in all areas of our lives – physical, emotional, financial. Boundaries are the do not enter signs of your life. They are the pre-set and predetermined rules to help you more clearly define what is and what is not acceptable in your world. Boundaries can be made for you and should also be made for others who have an impact in your life.

A boundary states very clearly, this is where I end and you begin. This is what I will allow and what I will not allow in my life. Boundaries create a safe space within so we can grow and learn.

Setting boundaries requires first that you know yourself and have an idea of what you want out of your time on earth. It’s impossible to set up the gates of your life without knowing how far you’re willing to let others in.

Keeping good boundaries requires that we stand up. Most of the lapse of boundaries we experience in life is a result of giving way to fear. Fear of rejection, fear of isolation, fear of not being accepted.  I’ll warn you, that when you begin the process of setting and keeping good boundaries, you will piss some people off. They will turn on you, they will blame you for their discomfort in the new normal. Some might even choose to sever relationship for a while – citing you as the instigator. Believe it or not, that is ok. It hurts, but it’s ok. Those who are meant to be in your life will find their way back.

And of course, there is the perpetual boundary buster. These people will try again and again to maneuver their way past your gates. I’ve found a strong, firm, consistent hand helps manage this. But it does take management – and that management is exhausting. Sometimes you need a break from the boundary buster and that’s ok.

Putting limits in place to protect yourself and your heart is a very good thing, my friends. Over time and with practice it gets easier, better, more efficient. It creates confidence. You’ve got this.

Here’s to making it great!