Where do you end and they begin?
Your Magenta Monday Magic.
“Boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me simultaneously.” Prentis Hemphill
In the last couple of weeks we have talked about the importance of knowing yourself. We’ve also outlined some steps for strengthening the relationship you have with yourself – have you been able to settle into a daily practice of 10 minutes of self-inquiry?
If not, I suggest you press pause on reading this, and go spend a few minutes in quiet reflection right now!
The better you get at committing time to yourself – and reflecting upon what’s meaningful for you – the closer you’ll get to rediscovering who you are and what things are really important to you.
And as you go through the process of rediscovering you, you’re going to evolve, which is great news because that’s what growth is all about! As you formulate that picture of what matters to you, you’ll also begin to identify things that you want more of in your life – things like love, joy, laughter, creativity, and adventure.
As you start the process of reinventing yourself after an empty nest, you may gain clarity on your picture of you, and start to realize that some of your relationships no longer align with who you are and what’s important to you. In some cases you may have outgrown them, and in others how you show up in that relationship shifts and along with it, the dynamic between you. It makes sense, right? You are a living, breathing, being and as you grow and change, your relationships with others will shift as well.
Growth isn’t always smooth sailing though – and this realization in particular can be a bit of a rocky road. When you discover new things about yourself – things aren’t in alignment with the relationship you’ve had with someone up to this point – it can introduce a little bit of friction.
For instance, let’s say you stayed home while you raised your kids, and during that time, your relationship with your partner involved you being on call for whenever they needed you…. Whether that meant picking up the car from the shop, cooking dinner, booking appointments, or running to the dry cleaners – you were always on it! This dynamic may have worked for you in the past, but as you navigate your own journey and experiences, you may realize that you need and want something different. This realization can be especially challenging for those going through a "mom midlife crisis".
And then imagine that you’ve spent some time getting really clear on what you want more of in your life, and going forward, that’s going to involve going back to school to get your MBA. Or taking a pottery class. Or teaching yoga. Or going back to work full-time…. Whatever you’ve decided on, it involves a day-to-day routine that looks pretty different than what has been the norm for a number of years.
Of course, you will have talked with your partner about how you want your life to change, and in those conversations they’ve been positive and supportive….
But then the impact of the change starts to hit home when you’re not there to cook dinner, book appointments, pick the car up or run to the dry cleaners…. The impact of adjusting to the change will likely introduce a little tension, tempers may even flare, and you’ll both have to work on settling into a different dynamic in your relationship.
This is a perfect spot to tap into one of our Living BRIGHTer pillars – Bravery – to help you with being firm and establishing clear boundaries. After all, we're talking about your life, right?
If you’re like most people – women especially – the word ‘boundary’ conjures up all kinds of scary connotations. This might be really uncomfortable for you. Maybe you subconsciously feel like you’re being self-centered or mean. You might be thinking, “I'm so selfish” or “I only care about myself.” You might worry about upsetting or disappointing other people….
Those kinds of feelings are completely normal in this situation. Discomfort is a part of growth!
When you really stop to think about it, finding purpose as an empty nester can be challenging, as your life up until now may have been completely boundary-less. When we pour ourselves into raising our families, we often get to the point where there is almost nothing left of ourselves.
The thing is though – as Brene Brown says – “We can’t connect with someone unless we’re clear about where we end and they begin.” (Atlas of the Heart p.128)
She goes on to say that there is a way to set boundaries so that the focus is on the action, and not on the person.
Let’s say your partner is really upset that you’re not going to be home to make dinner because you’ll be attending a night class. You might, for example, say to them, “It’s okay for you to feel disappointed that I won’t be home to make dinner tonight. But it’s not okay for you to tell me that I can’t go to my class – especially when you know how important it is to me.”
When you lead with the words “it’s okay to….but not okay to….” you acknowledge that their feelings are valid, but you also make it clear that the way they are expressing them is not okay.
Can you feel how empowering that is? You are putting a stake in the ground for what is important to you. And guess what? The more you do that, the more confident you’ll feel about asking for what you want and need!
And most of the time – if your relationship is on solid ground – you will navigate through the friction and come out the other side a little stronger and a little wiser. You’ll even be a bit more sure of yourself.
It’s the 1° shift that makes the biggest difference over time.
Continue with your daily practice of contemplation and self-inquiry and pay close attention to what keeps coming up for you. Try going for a walk with your thoughts – leave your headphones behind and spend some time listening to what shows up as your mind wanders.
We can discover some really important things about ourselves when we give ourselves the time and space to pay attention to our inner voice. And when we commit to doing that on a regular basis, what can also emerge is a deepening of our own self-love, and a strengthening of the relationship we have with ourselves.
When we set time aside for other people, it sends them the message that they matter to us. It’s no different when we do that for ourselves.
PS. I’d love to hear what activities you did to connect to your intentions! I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with us in Thriving Mom’s Collective FB Group!
Living BRIGHTer is...
B - Be Brave
R - Cultivate Relationships
I - Live with Intention
G - Practice Gratitude
H - Prioritize Health
T - Live your Truth
What is Magenta?
The color magenta is one of universal harmony and emotional balance. It is spiritual yet practical, encouraging common sense and a balanced outlook on life. Magenta helps to create harmony and balance in every aspect of life; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
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