There are times throughout our lives when we feel overwhelmed with our jobs, our social lives, and our family members. Do you ever find yourself dreading to answer a phone call from a certain family member or become anxious when you have agreed to help someone when you really did not want to? You are not alone. When we do things we do not really want to do, or keep relationships with people who challenge our inner peace, or agree to do things we only feel out of obligation, we are violating our own boundaries. Boundaries with ourselves and boundaries with others in our lives are important facets to fostering and maintaining inner peace.

According to author, Nedra Glover Tawaab, “If you think about it, the root of self-care is setting boundaries: it’s saying no to something in order to say yes to your own emotional, physical, and mental well-being.” When you feel drained by someone else’s energy, that is a good sign you need to re-evaluate the relationship with that person. It may mean that you are giving too much of yourself, or your time, or your energy when you really do not want to. When we do that, we become resentful and even emotionally drained, in part because we may be outgrowing that particular relationship. During re-evaluation and reflection of the relationship that emotionally drains us, we may discover the person has not changed or grown in the same way we have. Therefore, it is our responsibility to recognize how we are feeling and to decide how we want to communicate with that person or how we want to allow them to show up in our lives.

Boundaries also means letting people know how we feel and not giving in to justifying our decisions and not giving in to the urge of explaining why we have made the choices or decisions we have made. For example, your cousin invites you to his house for a card night, but you know your cousin drinks too much in social situations, and it makes you uncomfortable. You feel obligated to accept the invitation, because you do not want your cousin to be mad at you, but you get a sinking feeling in your gut by accepting the invitation. That sinking feeling comes from going against what you really want. It is okay to decline invitations from family. It is okay to say to your cousin, “Thanks for the invite, but I won’t be making it this weekend. Hope you have a good time.” You do not owe anyone any further explanation of why you declined the invitation. We are allowed to make decisions that best suit our emotional and mental health, even if people try to use tactics like obligation or guilt to try and make us change our mind.

Setting healthy boundaries is not an easy thing to do, especially if we are not used to doing it. When we start setting boundaries, others around us may not like it at first. However, when we start setting healthy boundaries with ourselves and with those around us, we feel more empowered and more in control of our own happiness and our own life which breeds the good stuff—inner peace.

About the Author: April Lipnitzky

April Lipnitzky began her career journey in higher education dedicating more than 17 years of her life serving the students and community members of Rock Valley College and Saint Anthony College of Nursing, in Rockford, Illinois. She realized her true passion was providing hope, being a listening ear, championing social justice, and connecting clients to critical resources. She decided to go back to school to become a licensed therapist. April brings a wealth of experience to FCS including working with young and middle-aged adults in college, providing emotional support and critical resources to older and aging adults and their families in hospice care, as well as aiding men and women experiencing and fleeing domestic violence.