Jamie and I talk a lot about boundaries: what they are, how to get them, and how women are taught not to assert them. I call Jamie my “boundary guru.” I frequently work with women to improve their boundaries and prioritize their needs, but the truth is I’m still in the process of creating healthy boundaries in many of my own relationships.
I’m learning so much from Jamie about how to firmly set boundaries with kindness, and I decided it wasn’t fair of me to keep her wisdom all for myself.
You’re in for a treat, folks. I interviewed Jamie, and today I’m sharing her wisdom with you.
Me: Tell me why boundaries matter to you.
Jamie: I think it's respectful to the other person, and the relationship you have with them, to set good boundaries. Without boundaries you start to feel taken advantage of, and you can become resentful. Open communication and firm boundaries help keep resentment from taking hold.
Love and give energy to the people who want to love you back and take part in your life. No ill wishes to those who don't, but no energy their way either! That's my boundary that I had a hard time accepting because it's not as "acceptable" to society. But that's the thing with boundaries, they’re not always easy (most often they're HARD), and definitely not always socially acceptable. I've learned the hard way that the only one who will truly take care of you is YOU. You teach people how to treat you by how you allow them to treat you. If you don't demand better, you won't get better.
Me: I wish more people understood that part! I think some people feel like victims and don’t realize they have any power. So often that leads to bitterness and resentment.
Jamie: Yep. I know so many of those people. And life will just never be as beautiful for them because they won't let it be.
Me: I'm working with a couple women on boundaries who don’t even realize it’s an option available to them.
Jamie: That's because society as a whole teaches women that we’re selfish for having them.
Me: What would you say to women who have been taught boundaries are selfish?
Jamie: Women feel the need to apologize for EVERYTHING. I found myself saying, "sorry, (then my opinion).” When I realized that a few years ago, I put a stop to it. I'm not sorry for my opinion!
I read that the number one reason women get into trouble with strangers trying to abduct/rape/kill them is because they were too polite. For example they rolled down the window to a man who knocks on it even when they felt uncomfortable.
Men will whistle or say something rude, and if you DARE to say "fuck you and your bullshit", then it's flipped on you and you're a "rude bitch."
It's okay to say no, it's okay to say I don't want this for my body, my life. It's okay to say no! It's doesn't make you rude, selfish or a bitch! We have just as much of a right to personal comfort, opinions and safety as men do. But we're told we don't. Every single day of being a girl/woman we are shown it's not okay. We need to rewire our brains to not feel so uncomfortable with boundaries. We see it as conflict, but it just doesn't need to be that way.
So many women are uncomfortable with conflict because we're taught that we shouldn’t FEEL so much, we shouldn't WANT so much and we certainly shouldn't talk about it and demand better. If we do, we're just considered "man hating feminists."
Me: It sounds like having boundaries means being true to yourself and recognizing your self-worth despite external expectations. How does motherhood play into all this?
Jamie: Oh gosh. In so many ways.
1. Staying home is a "luxury" that your husband affords you, not something that is for BOTH parents. Our husbands are lucky they have wives who stay home and love their babies.
2. Motherhood is this mandatory right of passage. Like you're not a true woman if you don't want kids.
3. If you are staying home you need to do ALL household duties. I mean, what else are you doing all day besides sitting around watching tv?
4. These beliefs are passed down to our children. We have the power to change it for the next generation. We are able to show them a better way. My husband and I are teaching our boys that women are powerful and men do laundry. That in itself is huge. We're all equal around here and we want our boys to see the world through that lense.
Me: YES! There seems to be an assumption that if you stay at home you somehow have less ambition or intelligence.
Jamie: Or that you're "wasting your degree" or whatever.
Me: Like raising a person is the easiest job. Okay, last question, what can women who've been socialized to put everyone else's needs first do to start creating healthy boundaries?
Jamie: Practice. At first it's so hard and you feel defensive for not saying sorry. Like you're already defending yourself for having an opinion before you even give it. That lessens over time and with practice. Recognizing that men don't need to act that way, so why should I? It's not about “ME,” it's about “ME TOO.” That's a big hurdle for women to get over.
Also seeing your value beyond your physical being. Learning that your worth comes from so much more is really hard when that's not what is shown to you. The first step, in my opinion, is giving yourself permission to say "me too." Reprogramming your brain to not feel selfish by setting boundaries.
Me: Well said, my friend.