At Punk Rock Saves Lives (PRSL), we place a high value on your mental health. An important part of protecting your mental health? Creating (and enforcing) boundaries!
But how can you do that when it’s the people you love most that are disturbing your peace?
It can be difficult to make space for yourself and put yourself first when faced with the expectations of those closest to you. By following these simple steps, you can create a blueprint to navigate difficult situations with your loved ones!
Identify Your Needs
The first step to creating boundaries is absolutely critical; you need to identify your personal needs. Take a step back, ignore the expectations and demands of others. What do YOU need?
When you isolate your own needs from that of others, you might start to see the root of your overwhelm. When you know what YOU need, you’re able to see where your needs are not being met and identify the actions that are threatening your mental health.
Mentally Outline Those Boundaries
Now that you know your needs, you can make a plan that will help to enforce them. Outline the boundaries that will help you to achieve your needs; try to be as specific as possible. The more you know about your boundaries, the easier it will be to communicate them and avoid grey areas that invite overstepping.
Communicate With Your Loved Ones
Just like it's important to talk about your mental illness with your loved ones, it’s also essential to communicate your boundaries with them. After all, they can’t help you protect them if they don’t know what they are!
You may experience some confusion and even push back when you ask for them to respect certain boundaries. That’s absolutely to be expected, and nothing to do with you. Just be kind and firm when explaining your boundaries, and, where you can, help them to understand why you need this boundary. (ex: “I need you to not do ___ because it triggers my anxiety and makes me uncomfortable.”)
Once you have the conversation, you may find that many will actually be very receptive to your needs and will do what they can to help!
Reinforce Those Boundaries As Needed
Now that you have your boundaries and have asked your loved ones to respect them, it’s time to enforce them! It will be difficult at first, but it should get easier as time goes on.
Stand firm to your boundaries, and it will help others to do the same. When you let something slide once, it’s likely to happen again; so don’t be afraid to speak up when someone has done something you’ve asked them not to do.
Remind your loved ones of your boundaries, and hold them accountable. In time, it will become second nature to both of you, and (hopefully) the behavior will become less and less frequent!
Remember That Your Needs Can Change -- And That’s Okay!
One final note: over time, your needs may change or you may identify new boundaries that had previously been unidentified...and that’s absolutely okay! We experience new situations all the time and will adapt to them. Don’t stress if you need to adapt your boundaries, too!
If you’re struggling with establishing your boundaries, or need to vent, remember that you are not alone. The PRSL online mental health community is here for you, and just a click away.