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What Will Be New this Year?

As we welcome in the New Year, it’s been pretty standard for people around the world to put resolutions in play. Some want to quit smoking or drinking, others want to travel more. Some people decide this is the year they will set higher goals for their professional lives or instead work less and live more. Most people are going to get in shape and lose weight. For me personally, I don’t usually make resolutions because I tend to break them within the first month. I have a rebellious personality by nature (don’t most of us) so it’s hard for me to make a commitment like a New Year’s resolution.

However, this year, I have decided to make a resolution, inspired by my therapist actually. Yes, I’m in therapy and I thank God I am! I mean, 49 years makes for a lot of things to undo about one’s self. That being said, my New Year’s resolution is to start setting more boundaries, and get comfortable in doing so. In the past, I’ve been worried about setting boundaries because I don’t want to upset or offend people. I’ve been unpacking that aspect of myself and learning that setting boundaries isn’t about hurting others, it’s about loving yourself and protecting yourself, and that should be the focus.

I tried out my boundary last week as I looked at my friends list and started the processes of deleting people I’m not actually friends with, or people who don’t interact with me at all. Have you supported my endeavors in the past? Have you interacted with me on social media? No? Well, that’s totally fine, but we probably aren’t really friends. It wasn’t necessarily a matter of “not liking” someone, it was instead a matter of considering relationships and deciding which ones were beneficial to me or to that person and myself together. Wouldn’t you know, someone reached out and asked what they did wrong. I didn’t anticipate someone actually caring enough to ask, as social media to ME is sometimes a bit superficial and silly; at the same time I do get it. I didn’t think I was one of those people that “collected” friends, but I found myself doing that in the last years just because I didn’t want to be “mean.” So, in answering the person who asked, I explained to the best of my ability as to what my thought process was. They were super nice about it and told me they totally understood. That made me feel a bit better, because it wasn’t really even ABOUT them. I’m still not done with this task of downsizing my list, and this action is just a fraction of the boundaries I’m putting in place.

Boundaries are so necessary because in order to have a peaceful life, we must eliminate the things that are not serving us in a positive manner. This actually encompasses so much, from unhealthy food choices, to the music we listen to, to the people we see and engage with on a weekly or even daily basis, friendships, and most definitely what we choose to do with our free time. If you think about it that way, setting boundaries can seem overwhelming! That’s why we must start with the small things and work our way up.

The small things, for me, start with something like social media and progresses to the way I spend my free time. This means fewer thriller movies and dark documentaries and more reading. Doing things with more intention, living a bit more in the moment. Living in the moment for me doesn’t necessarily mean being busy and utilizing every minute for movement, but rather pausing and being aware of the cast of the sun across the winter morning, or noticing the safe feeling I have up in my corner apartment overlooking the busy street, or enjoying the quiet hum of the dishwasher while I close my eyes and deep breathe. It sounds a bit corny, I know, but I really think that I tend to take the little things for granted.

I wrote a blog a few years ago called “Lather, Rinse, Repeat” and it was all about the social media cleanse. Well, here I am 4 years later having to take my own advice (AGAIN) and clean up life. Somewhere along the way, I started over thinking. I’m guessing this was during Covid when the world kind of fell apart. Then, in the interest of trying to be a better, kinder person, I found myself not being able to say “no.”

The ability to say “no” to people and things is a tricky one. I grew up in a generation where we were expected to do as we were told, no matter how uncomfortable it made us, and no questions asked.This can result in the inability to feel like you can say “no” when you really, really need to, (facing abuse of any kind), or when we are teenagers and adults who better understand situations where saying no is best. Later on, it manifests in many ways, and people pleasing is one of them. So here I am, learning in my 40’s that saying no is an option, it’s ok, and even necessary. I’ve heard that the more you set a boundary, the easier it is to set another one and another one.

Setting boundaries when it comes to family and friends is a bit harder for me. However, upon reflection and recent realizations, I’ve learned that I need to set boundaries there, too. We are not able to choose our families, and if there are members of our family that are toxic to us, it is absolutely ok to avoid having to interact with them, however we may need to do that. People who say, “Well, they’re your family, you should get over it,” or “they’re your family, you need to forgive and forget,” aren’t it. Since when did family get the go ahead to be cruel, or unkind, or condescending to another family member? I find myself not wanting to seek “revenge” when it comes to this scenario, but I do find myself wanting to distance myself from it in order to preserve my mental health.

Unlike family, we do, however, get to choose our friends. I’ve been ok letting friendships go quiet over time because they have no longer been good for me, or they have no longer been cared for by the other person. It’s ok to let people go as part of boundary setting. I think intent is EVERYTHING, and as long as I’m happy with my intent, I can feel justified in the action of letting go.

So 2023, here’s to boundaries; may we have wisdom in determining when to set them, may we have strength in learning to abide by them, and may we have understanding when others put them in place.

Cheers! And Happy New Year!!!

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