When my sons played baseball years ago, I was very aware of what “out of bounds” meant. As a person who has found coloring calming and therapeutic, I know what it means to “stay in the lines”. And when my feet get planted on a bowling alley (maybe once a year), I try very hard to keep my ball from going into the gutter. These very obvious “boundaries” make it clear that there are things to be avoided.
As a young mom who watched her sons play baseball, I did not think of boundaries beyond the obvious ones that we can see. Fast forward to the present and the word “BOUNDARY” has become a trend referring to the limits we should place to protect ourselves.
Close your eyes for a moment and visualize a fenced in yard that prevents trespassing. You can probably “see” the perimeter of the area and wall of fencing. The one I see is white and simple and the fence is about 3 feet high.
What about the boundaries that we cannot see? What’s all the hype about laying down our boundaries so that we protect ourselves from being burned out, doing too much, getting taken advantage of, or giving too much of ourselves? This type of BOUNDARY, this intangible “line” we are asked to draw around us can really help a care partner be able to find better balance in their life.
I know what you are thinking. Maybe you are saying, “I’m fine… I can handle it… I have been making it work without a problem… I don’t want boundaries because this is what I’m meant to do….”. Or maybe you are thinking, “No one will listen if I explain I have a BOUNDARY….people will think I’m not capable”.
Here are some suggestions that care partners can use to be more clear about their BOUNDARY.
- Decide how you will let people know you have BOUNDARIES
- Your choice of language can send a specific message
- Notice the difference between, “I’ve decided to play cards with you until 1:30 so that I can read more of my book” and “I’ve had enough and can’t play with you anymore”.
- Come up with a standard line of letting people know your BOUNDARY Here’s an example, “Ever since I started making my boundaries clear, I am able to be more present and feel more calm”.
- A straight up “NO!” is also a way of relaying your BOUNDARY; just be careful about your tone
- Be proud of having a BOUNDARY
- Letting people know you have limits demonstrates self awareness and commitment to your own needs.
- Your BOUNDARIES may influence other people’s ability to be more communicative about what they need
- A BOUNDARY can allow you to do more than you are doing now
- If you are clear about your limits, you can pay more attention to the things within your boundary and do them with more intent
- A BOUNDARY allows you to prioritize what matters most to you
- Being a care partner is an invaluable role that many people can not handle easily
- If your sole role is to be someone’s care partner, you are devaluing your own self needs
- Those you care for need to know that your self care matters too
- Your BOUNDARY helps balance your role as care partner and “ME”
- Defining your BOUNDARY when it comes to saying “YES” and “NO” can feel awkward and stressful
- Do you ever say, “I have to be better at saying NO and not agreeing to do everything?”
- Do you ever say, “I have to be better at saying YES and allow other people to help me?”
- It is likely that care partners struggle with this admission and having clear BOUNDARIES will allow you to achieve a better sense of comfort and ease.
Contact ICOMMUNICARE for more information and personalized ways to create your BOUNDARY.