It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for my blog, and that kind of ties in with the title today.
We’re often called to make boundaries for the sake of our mental and emotional health, sometimes even our physcial too. Setting boundaires is a loaded statement for me, as it’s something that makes me feel overwhelmed and a bit stressed.
For me, the idea of setting boundaries sounds like I need to have too many uncomfortable conversations, with others and myself, which to be honest with you is something I’d like to avoid at all cost.
Even the cost of the several areas of health I’ve just mentioned, it would seem.
Another way to think of setting boundaries is instead by thinking about priorities. This too is a loaded statement and one that takes just as much work as setting boundaries, but it somehow sounds more positive so I’m going with it.
If you fail to set priorities regarding your better interests, where does that leave you? You will be going along with anything and everything that people suggest to you, regardless of how it will impact you.
So whether you want to set boundaries or need to consider your priorities, this is important work.
The Words We Use
I read something the other day that was talking about how the language we use impacts our actions.
You’ve probably heard of this too, but for some reason this time it really stuck out to me.
“Can’t means I won’t”
Do you catch yourself saying the words ‘I can’t’ on a regular basis?
For example, you might say to your friend that you can’t come for coffee or give them a call because you don’t have time; or you might say to yourself that you cannot find the time to write, meditiate, work out, or whatever habit you want to pick up.
In these situations, switch the word ‘can’t’ for ‘won’t’ and see how it sits with you.
Instead of saying to your mate that you can’t come to see them, change it for you won’t come see them. Instead of telling yourself you can’t find time, change it to I won’t make time.
And just to be clear here, there is nothing wrong with not wanting to do something, but you need to be aware that this is what you’re doing when you say ‘I can’t’.
‘Can’t’ takes on a passive tone and makes you sound like a victim, whereas ‘won’t’ is the opposite – it’s you taking action and making the decision to do or not to do something, which is totally valid in every regard.
But if you’re not aware that this is what you’re doing, then you’re going to be spending your days feeling like a victim of circumstance which is a place no one wants to be for very long.
Another key word to think about in this regard is ‘don’t’.
This is a word we all commonly use in regards to time, as in ‘I don’t have the time for that thing, person, or activity’.
While this may be valid for a lot of people, again think about using different language next time you’re making an excuse because now whenever I hear the word ‘don’t’ (whether it comes from me or someone else) all I hear it:
That’s not a priority for me.
Again, this is totally valid for you to say. After all, we only have so many hours in the day, and some things will not be a priority to you like they are to me and vice versa. But you need to be able to own your decisions, my friend.
What’s A Priority For You?
We tend to use words like can’t and don’t as a way to make thing easier on people.
Saying to a friend that you ‘can’t’ attend their party is an easier way of saying that you don’t want to go, ie. it isn’t a priority to you.
We also use these words to make things easier on ourselves.
Face it, it is much easier to say that we don’t have the time to write, or read, or workout, or start that project than admitting that we won’t make time – that it’s not a priority for us.
We all want to believe we’re doing our best and with everything going on in our lives, we don’t want to add any more pressure to ourselves which is why we resort to using ‘can’t’ and ‘don’t’, instead of blaming ourselves.
And I hear you, on both accounts! But I’m also getting tired of both mine and other people’s bullshit.
If 2020 has taught us anything so far it’s that life is short, time runs out quickly and we cannot plan for what might be around the corner. I mentioned in another post that this has made me feel more impatient that ever when it comes to other people, and myself.
There’s bigger problems out there than you not wanting to attend that thing, see that person, or work on a side hustle so why are we still making excuses to pacify? 2020 has shown us the more important things, but I guess old habits die hard.
Put Yourself First
You don’t have to make things a priority that don’t mean anything to you. (If you want more help on this, I’d highly suggest reading The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A Fuck by Sarah Knight or watching here TedTalk here)
However, we should be showing the things that really matter to us some priority, whether it is a person or an activity.
Finding out what is a priority for you is difficult, especially considering we’re bombarded with other ideas, commitments, and concepts from society, our friends, our family that we have to wade through first. It takes some time to go within yourself, and it requires you to switch off the outside world for a bit – which is perfect to do during lockdown, might I add.
Once you figure out what is a priority to you, and where you need to set some boundaries, life will be so much easier for you.
I’m not there yet, but even giving up even the smallest things such as pretending to like Friends or keeping up with what J.K Rowling has said on Twitter because I feel like I ‘have to’ has given me so much more time and energy that can be used for other aspects of my life.
I’m now trying to tackle the bigger stuff, like commitments, people, and hobbies which as you can imagine is a lot harder.
This is why I’d suggest starting small. Start removing the TV show you don’t like watching, the album you bought because it was number one at the time, the bra you bought to be sexy but it hurts to wear.
Once we get rid of the clutter, we have more room to tackle the bigger things.
As I said, this is a process I’m still going through and I won’t lie it’s bloody difficult!
One thing that I always thought was a priority for me was writing. This will come as no surprise considering you’re on my personal written blog, but writing is a passion of mine. It’s something I dedicated hours to as a youngster and it is now my career, but going through this journey made me realise that I don’t make it a priority anymore. Instead, it’s just something I have to do for work and that’s it.
Whenever I had spare time as a kid, and of course there was lots of it, I would read or write.
Now, whenever I get some free time – which to be honest, I still have a lot of – I will instead turn to my phone to consume rather than create.
While there is nothing wrong with this in general (you do you, boo) it’s lead me to feeling unsatisfied and unsettled. I found myself wondering why no matter how much work I do on myself, I’m still struggling to find a moment’s contentment.
It’s because I’m no longer making things that truly matter to me a priority.
To make writing a priority again, I need to set boundaries with myself and other people to ensure that I have the time and energy it takes to write a blog post or come up with ideas.
This is hard work, my friends, but important. And it’s something I’m going to continue working on as much as I can until I’ve created a nice balance in my life once more.
Hopefully, you’ll see more of me soon! In the meantime, what do you need to make a priority in your life?