Many of us, especially women, have been taught to give and give and give without question. Over time, as you probably know, this becomes exhausting and depleting. You might already have strong boundaries, or maybe you’re realizing just now that you really need to set them, but you’re afraid. If you’ve been waiting for a permission slip to create more boundaries in your life, consider this it.
You are a powerful being, and you get to decide what is and is not acceptable to you in your life (if reading that gave you a strong reaction, check out this post for tips to connect with your authentic power). You are allowed to take up space. You are allowed to speak up and stand up for yourself. This is the spiritual work of boundary setting.
Boundaries are an important way of setting the terms for how it is and isn’t okay for other people to interact with you, and on an energetic level, they’re a way of protecting your own energy.
Because spiritual work isn’t all pretty all the time. Sometimes it’s the deep, unglamorous work of digging into the roots of your heart and seeing what you truly need, and then telling people that no, you won’t answer their DMs, or no, you won’t do free work anymore, or no, you can’t hold energetic support for them at this moment because you simply have nothing left to give.
I saw Gabby Bernstein live last year, and during the Q&A portion of the night a woman went up to the mic and told Gabby that she was feeling so spiritual these days— so spiritual, in fact, that all she wanted to do was lock herself in her room and meditate and read spiritual books. She said she was starting to resent her life— her kids, her work, her husband— for taking her out of that.
Gabby said, “Here’s what you don’t yet understand: your life is your spiritual practice.”
That’s always stood out to me. Meditating, ritual, yoga, tarot, all of the things we love— they can all be part of your spiritual practice. But they’re not THE spiritual practice. Your spiritual practice is how you treat people, how you treat yourself, how you move in the world, how you set boundaries.
And since we’re always evolving and growing, our boundaries are always evolving, too.
Scroll down for some tips on how to set clear boundaries.
Figure out what your boundaries are
How do you know which boundaries need to be set? How do you know when a boundary has been violated?
Practice checking in with your feelings. Boundary violations may manifest as making you feel powerless, confused, drained, disassociated, angry, or upset. When you feel that way, take an honest look and ask yourself why?
Did someone treat you in a way that’s unacceptable to you? Did you perform free emotional labor that’s leaving you drained? Are you speaking to yourself in a way that’s hurtful?
Dig in and look at why you may struggle to set boundaries
Try these journaling questions:
- What did I learn as a child about the importance of being liked, going with the flow, and saying yes?
- What did I learn as a child about saying and hearing “no?”
- What am I afraid will happen if I set and stick with clear boundaries?
Open your throat chakra
The state of your throat chakra is heavily associated with your ability to set and communicate clear boundaries. When your throat chakra is blocked, you might be afraid to stand up for yourself and be seen or fear being judged for the boundaries you set. Get seven ways to balance your throat chakra here.
Once you’ve done the work in steps 1-3, this step should come more easily. Just remember when you’re communicating your boundaries to stand firm. You can speak your boundaries with love and compassion without apologizing, feeling guilty, or making them feel optional. Be as clear, honest, and direct as you can.
Remember, you have to set that boundary clearly with yourself before you can communicate it to anyone else.
You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again: saying no creates the space for your big YES to come in—whether that’s relationships with people who treat you well, a job that fulfills your soul, or something else. Setting boundaries aren’t just about saying no, it’s about saying YES to only the things that feel good to you and light your soul up.
What’s your relationship with boundary setting? Now’s a perfect time to take a look!
About Eryn Johnson
Eryn Johnson is a breathwork facilitator, tarot reader, and Reiki Master based in Fishtown, Philadelphia. She is also the host of the Living Open podcast for mystics and seekers, a storytelling tool here to help facilitate soul evolution. The foundation of her work is energetic and based on the belief that there's nothing wrong with you- we are simply programmed from a young age to forget the truth of who we are. She uses energy work, storytelling, and breathwork to guide you back to you - your heart, your power, your magic. Find her work at www.living-open.com and @erynj_ on Instagram.