With Lisa Gallo
HOW SETTING BOUNDARIES STRENGTHENED MY RELATIONSHIPS
Boundaries: a foreign topic to me until the last couple of years. I received a lot of “me, too!” comments and messages from my Instagram post about setting boundaries, so I’ve decided to expand on the topic here.
Pretty sure I was born a people-pleaser. I am the QUEEN of over promising and over-committing myself to plans and activities – and most of the time, it’s to make others happy, not myself.
Too many commitments squeezed into my already busy schedule always amounts to added stress. The built-up stress leads to anxiety. The anxiety leads to panic attacks. Oh, and if I cancel or just don’t show up to plans I’ve committed to? The guilt I feel is paralyzing. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that takes its toll on me both physically and mentally.
I stumbled upon a quote that sums up boundaries (or the lack thereof) in my life:
“If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.” – Cheryl Richardson
The war I create inside myself when I don’t set boundaries not only causes me anxiety, but it also keeps me from developing real, meaningful relationships with myself and with others.
So, what exactly are boundaries?
According to The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, boundaries help us to define who we are. They orient us in our relationships, and signify to us and to others where “I end and you begin”.
To me, setting boundaries simply means knowing my limits a.k.a. learning to say “no” to others, to plans, to activities, to anything, in order to benefit myself and my ability to develop meaningful relationships with others.
Now, boundaries can be physical, emotional, spiritual, etc., but I’m specifically talking about setting boundaries with others when it comes to commitment.
While I’m still a newbie to this, here’s how I set boundaries:
1. Assess the situation – Instead of automatically agreeing, asking …Does this fit in my schedule? Is this something I want to do/attend?
2. Ask myself what is best for me – Will this stress me out? I need to be aware of and respect my personal limits.
3. Make a decision.
4. Communicate my decision with emphasis on WHY I made it to the other person/group – honesty is key here!
5. Move forward guilt-free.
I just made it sound easy, but this process takes time and effort. For me, the most important step I need to practice and put effort into is No. 4: communication.
Before learning about the importance of boundaries, I used to come up with not-exactly-true reasons why I couldn’t be somewhere for someone. For example, I’d say, “I don’t feel well. I’m out for tonight.” While that was kind of true (considering the guilt from bailing usually made me sick to my stomach), it often wasn’t the real reason.
With the help of therapy, I’ve learned that openness and honesty are key. Instead of making something up, I now do my best to speak the truth and communicate that to my family and friends. So, instead of “feeling sick” I’ll say, “I’m committed to another event tonight, so I’m unable to make this one,” OR “I’m worn out from the work week and am going to take some time to relax. Let’s reschedule for another time!”
I communicate this in a calm and respectful manner, of course. And more often than not, my family and friends understand (if they don’t, then that’s a reason to assess that specific relationship in my life).
The hardest part in all of this for me? Learning that taking care of myself is NOT selfish.
Taking care of myself first allows me to be more present in life, and that alone benefits my relationships.
It opens the line of communication, allows me to be 100 percent honest and 100 percent myself … Not only have I learned more about myself in this process, others have, too.
I truly believe that boundaries are essential to real, meaningful relationships.
You must set boundaries in your closest relationships so that you can feel accepted, heard and loved … Part of feeling connected to someone is allowing him or her to truly see you and what you’re all about.
Boundaries have helped me to understand what true self-care is, how to love myself, and how to respect the boundaries that others need, too.
Now, I am still a serious work in progress over here – setting boundaries takes effort and does not happen overnight! I’m making it a priority to practice boundaries daily and it has benefitted me SO much so far. It’s helped me to stay true to myself and to the people in my life.
Do you struggle with setting boundaries? How do you plan to implement boundaries into your life?
Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hi, I’m Lisa! Spirited marketer and lively PR gal by day, old-soul homebody by night. I’ve spent all 27 years of my life in the Sunshine State — with some adventures thrown in, of course. I live to create and develop meaningful relationships with others. I love traveling, meeting new people and going on adventures, but I also thrive from routine … most likely due to the fact that I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder at the age of 19.
What is one thing no one really knows about you?
Hmm … I’m an open book, so some probably know this, but I’ve taken anti-depressants on and off for 8 years now. I used to be ashamed, but not anymore. They’ve improved my quality of life and I am so grateful.
What would you say to 16 year old you?
I love this question. I would tell my 16-year-old self, “YOU ARE ENOUGH.” I was always trying to change myself – things like my hair and my body – or even do things I didn’t love solely to make others happy or to feel accepted. With age, I’ve learned that being who I am is enough and owning it is even better.
What is your greatest fear?
It’s part of my Panic Disorder, but I am petrified of big bridges – specifically, driving over them. I think it boils down to a fear of heights. I’m working on this daily!
What message do you think every woman should hear?
Invest the time to learn more about yourself. What makes you happy? What triggers you into anxiety? Self-awareness is a powerful thing, and we should all dedicate more time to it.
What is your favorite meal?
I L O V E most foods, but I’d have to choose chocolate chip cookies, hands down. And don’t tell me that’s not a meal … It is if you can eat as many in one sitting as I can!
If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
I love my current job in marketing, but my dream is to be an inspirational speaker one day … And I am working toward that!
What is something on your bucket list?
Since the first grade I’ve wanted to go to Australia and I plan to someday!
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in every-day life. In nature, in my own struggles, from the people in my life … I just feel it!
What are your biggest passions?
My biggest passions work hand-in-hand: communication and relationship building. Communication is a big part of my career in marketing, and also in my personal life with blogging. I live for meaningful connections and relationships, and communication plays a big role in that. To me, there’s nothing better than a deep connection with another through good conversation.
More About Lisa
Lisa Gallo is a spirited marketer by day, fiance and dog mom by night. She has spent all 27 years of her life in the Sunshine State — with some adventures thrown in, of course. She lives to create and develop meaningful relationships with others. Lisa loves traveling, meeting new people and going on adventures, but she also thrives from routine … most likely due to the fact that she was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder at the age of 19. Lisa started her blog, adventures & anxiety, as a form of expression and in hopes that her mental health journey can help others.