“Letting go helps us to live in a more peaceful state of mind and helps restore our balance. It allows others to be responsible for themselves and for us to take our hands off situations that do not belong to us. This frees us from unnecessary stress.” – Melody Beattie
When considering boundaries, what comes to mind? What is a boundary, anyway? Is it a barrier? A line? A limit? Is it self-respect? Or is it holding space for what you value? Perhaps ruthlessly so? Yes. Yes to each one. Simply put, boundaries are authentic ways of honoring your truth in the current season of life you are living.
Connecting to last week’s post, these authentic ways of honoring your truth (i.e. returning home) can be validated through direct mindful words, actions, and reactions. Therefore, establishing boundaries in the clouds of your mind without actually putting them into consistent practice is about as effective as drinking poison and hoping it affects someone else. Which is, by the way, another definition of resentment. Are a lack of boundaries and resentment related? I think so.
Journal Question | When you gripe about social media and get mad at the pervasiveness of technology, is it social media and tech’s fault, or your own? Explore this in your journal.
Boundaries you set can be big, like establishing what you will or will not tolerate from someone you care about in a serious relationship. Or small, like establishing when you will or will not use Instagram on your phone. Either way, they declare what you feel is best or perhaps even needed in order to thrive, not merely survive, the life you’re living. Because when you live your life with boundaries, you’re able to do so with greater depth and clarity, which in turn, creates meaning, connection, and purpose
I have found that I am in need of boundaries after listening to (more like wrestling with) my intuition – the voice within that knows. I’ll hear that faint whisper inside and feel that gentle nudge and think, this isn’t right. Something needs to change. And other times it’s more overt, when my weary body lashes out screaming “enough is enough!” after I’ve stayed up too late or done far too much or ignored my most basic needs. Usually when I do this, literal rest is part of the healing, away from glowing screens and tucked in bed with tea and a book.
I have found that living with boundaries is essential to living an intentional life, because saying yes to everything all the time is not only draining, but it creates a poverty of the spirit that affects nearly everything we do. Life without boundaries spreads us thin, sometimes so much so, that we don’t even know what it is we are spreading. This is when rest is most essential, and returning home the only cure.
Journal Question | Have you ever, or perhaps recently, done something for an extended period of time, and afterward or during thought, “Why am I doing this? For what? This is not ME. Why do I continue down this path that feels so unfamiliar?”
Without boundaries, one spends what is left of their energy trying to draw up water in a waterless well. Andrew calls this “pushing rope”, instead of pulling it. Without boundaries, one begins to imagine greener growth in everyone’s garden but their own. A lack of boundaries can easily fuel comparison in this way, leaving us feeling unworthy and drowning. In a sense, boundaries are life rafts that are always there, waiting and ready to keep us afloat when we can no longer tread, our whole being, our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls weary and in need of real rest.
So what do boundaries have to do with social media? I’d argue, everything. From the time you spend on your phone scrolling, to the content you decided to share, to the energy you pay in exchange for endless information, and to all the little screen taps and comments and responses and captions that use your time and attention. Anything you give your time and attention to is worthy of continual reflection regarding the boundaries you’ve established, or the lack thereof. It shouldn’t be a once a year thing, but an ongoing practice that ebbs and flows with your personal rhythms and as you change and grow. Your last year’s social media habits should not necessarily be this year’s, and so on.
Why I believe it’s so important to establish healthy boundaries that are reflective of your values when it comes to social media, is because social media was designed and currently operates to capture and hold our time and attention. As you know, it is being continually perfected this very moment by very smart people who not only do not have our best interest in mind, but who are very skilled in keeping us absorbed in the screen we are holding. This means it’s far too easy to get lost in the black hole of mindless scrolling, taking in an absurd amount of information and content, even when we have the best intentions! I am so guilty of this, but it’s important to realize that all of that input added up = a lot of noise. So much noise, in fact, that it’s rather hard to hear ourselves think and create original content, let a alone give us quiet space to establish something as fundamental as a boundary line.
I mean, it’s not our fault, and yet it is. Social media and the way it is crafted certainly does not lend itself to helping us create boundaries, that is for certain. But it imperative that we take responsibility for our own time and attention, knowing that social media isn’t bad, but a tool we can use to add value to our lives, not the other way around.
Dr. Brené Brown has written much on the topic of boundaries, and she says, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. We can’t base our own worthiness on others’ approval (and this is coming from someone who spent years trying to please everyone!). Only when we believe, deep down, that we are enough can we say “Enough!” I love the idea of boundary setting as having courage to love ourselves.
Watch | Boundaries with Brené Brown
Read | 3 Ways to Set Boundaries by Brené Brown and Social Media’s Dark Side: Learning to Set Boundaries and journal your response to each article. Do you think Brown’s three steps are something you could follow and implement? How could they apply to social media going forward in 2020? Concerning the Entrepreneur.com article, do you think the ideas provided are helpful? What others came to mind while reading?
A Few Tips on Establishing Boundaries with Social Media.
- Go through who you are currently following, and unfollow anyone and everyone who does not align with your purpose in using social media in the first place. Edit, edit, edit. Make your feeds ones that give you life, rather than drain it. If someone is concerned why you’ve unfollowed them, understand that you don’t owe them a why. You can simple say, “I am working on creating healthy boundaries.” And leave it at that!
- Choose one day a week to literally unplug or turn off your phone. If this is too drastic, choose a night or two each week to do so. Put your device in another room while sleeping and implement this rule house-wide.
- Set time limits on your usage and reward yourself with something from your Returning Home list when accomplished.
- Create a mantra to use when posting that ensures what you are sharing aligns with your values.
- Make a pact, for every minute you spend online each week, spend that much time unplugged in and around the natural world. Richard Louv writes about this in The Nature Principle and our need for vitamin N.
What tips do you have on establishing boundaries with social media?
Remember…boundaries change like the seasons, so visit and revisit them often. This is a practice you might consider doing several times a year as you learn, grow, and move forward in your life. It is perfectly okay and healthy to admit that something is no longer serving you, and to move on or let go. Begin weaving this philosophy into your usage with social media, and note how these new boundary lines make you feel. And lastly, I hope your month is going well. I’d love to hear about your Rest Retreat experiences below if you’re so inclined to share. I will update you next week with things I am learning over here. Take care! xx Amanda
Week Zero | Welcome + Contemplation
Week One | Return Home