Finding Your Values: What Are They? How Do You Know?

Values were something I hadn’t thought much about in my youth. I had a lot of opinions and I had a self-righteous streak when defending those opinions, but I never thought of them as values. Or even thought of them in a sense of structure or order. In short, I felt that most of the time I was right, and everybody else needed to catch up. This, as you have probably already guessed, did not win me very many friends. Nor was it a very sustainable way to navigate my life. I burned a lot of bridges being unforgiving. And if I could change it, I would.

But with that said, I feel the best way to atone for past mistakes is to make healthier decisions going forward into the future. And for me, that started with hammering out my basic values.

So What Are My Values?

For me, values are forms of expression that are lived through ourselves, our personality and actions. For example, one of my values is honesty. The simple act of being honest in my day to day interactions is something that is important to me. But this is something that I learned later on in life. And unfortunately, I had to learn this the hard way.

I was likely to say anything that would get me what I wanted when I was young. And later in life as well, I would think nothing of embellishing the truth. This was mostly due to me feeling as though I wasn’t worth the attention or affections of another. I was so use to being left on my own, that I would say just about anything for someone to want to be around me. And what was so strange about how I was acting, all to be seen and liked by others, that when somebody did show an interest in who I was, I was usually clueless. I was so wrapped up in what Brene Brown calls, “hustling for approval” that I was blind to those who would have been good friends.

Pay for Your Ticket

What turned honesty into one of my values was, while I was riding the commuter rail two stops over to the next town on my way to an appointment, I decided that I was going to always pay for my ticket. This seems like a simple decision to make. And it was. Only, before that day I had always looked for a seat with a zone tag on it, hoping to fool the conductor into thinking I had already paid for my ticket.

I could afford the ticket, so it wasn’t an issue of saving the $3.25 that the ticket costs. I was just trying to be sneaky, get away with something because I could. And one day I realized that that is not the type of person I wanted to be. Hiding from a conductor to avoid paying $3.25 seemed childish to me the more I thought about it. So it was this simple decision of always paying for my ticket, where my value of honesty was forged. And as far as values go, this is an important one.

Without it, we wouldn’t have many relationships founded on trust. This was a problem that I kept finding myself confronted with. Most of the people I had in my life, also didn’t have many values. And it wasn’t until I started practicing my values, that I came to know my true friends. And it feels good. Being able to rely on my friends, no matter what : )

My Short List of Values

Okay, so honesty is a pretty universal one. But how do we find out what our values even are if you’re starting from scratch. Much in the way that I started finding what I valued. As with most things when I’m uncertain of what to do, I start a list. And finding my values was no different. Below you’ll find a short list of the ways I want to live my life:

  • Kindness to myself and others, be forgiving, don’t talk badly about others or myself.
  • Physically fit and a healthy lifestyle so I can avoid injury and stay healthy. Another way to care for myself 🙂
  • Patience and calm
  • Women are not sex objects
  • Hard working and take pride in my work. Do a good job whatever I’m doing. Don’t cut corners.
  • Honesty
  • Stay away from drugs. alcohol is okay once and a while.
  • Find the time to relax and take care of myself.
  • Be humble, watch my judgements of people.
  • Stay clean and organized
  • Don’t over consume, less is more.

This list came to be after I had been practicing many of the different components for a while. These are the ways I want to be living my life. It’s also worth mentioning that I adhered to almost none of these values before I decided to make changes in my life for the positive. And it wasn’t easy making the change.

Some Habits are Harder to Break Than Others

My proverbial white whale was “women are not sex objects”. This way of viewing the world was foundational for my younger self. While I was growing up, I received so much negative reinforcement around self worth being intrinsically connected to looking attractive that it was law. So when I viewed women, this was the first criteria I used to decide their value. These were definitely unhealthy ways of viewing my world.

But, it was all I knew. It wasn’t until I finally felt heard with a woman, that I stopped the cycle of objectifying them. And that’s not to say that I don’t still appreciate their beauty, but it isn’t the ONLY qualifying factor now, as it once had been.

Now, regardless of whom I’m talking with or thinking about, they are people first. They have just as much going on in their lives as I do, possibly more. So it’s with this outlook that I come to each interaction and try to keep the judgmental side of me to a minimum. And that’s not always easy. I find myself constantly trying to refrain my thinking around each interaction. Trying not to fall into the old habits I once was so accustom to. And this is something that we learn as we go. It’s not something that’s just presented to most of us, unless we have great role models growing up. Which sometime happens if we’re lucky. Though usually it’s something that’s learned new, each generation.

How do We Cultivate Values?

So if you’re reading this, you may be wondering, “how do I cultivate or find out what I value?” For me, it took a lot of looking at what I was already doing and liking about myself and practicing those aspects. Journaling was something that was invaluable to me in figuring out what my values were.

I enjoy the process of bringing order to things, so making a list in my journal and fleshing out why they are important to me came almost second nature. I say almost, because I first had to find a vehicle for my voice. Writing to me just came naturally.

Finding Your Voice

When you think about the aspects that you admire about yourself, what are they? How do you express yourself in the best possible ways? What do you like about yourself? These are the elements of yourself that you can hold on to and develop into your voice. Maybe you’re good at organizing people and events. What about organizing gives you a sense of fulfilment?

For me, as I’ve said above, I enjoy writing and bring together feelings in this outlet. So journaling and blogging are two of my favorite pass times. But what’s important is, that we find what matters most to us and bring that out in how we decide to communicate.

For example, one of my values is self-care. So I’ve posted about my self-care routines on this blog, as well as a resource list on my notes app that I can access when I need a quick pick me up. I am able to convey my values through what comes naturally to me, my writing. And it’s different for everybody. So finding out how you like to express yourself, or what comes natural to you, is important to knowing how to express your values.

Expressing What You Are

After you’ve found your medium, now it’s time to express what you like about yourself. Do you feel best about yourself when you’re helping others? Or maybe when you’ve taken care of yourself and your surroundings. One of the things that brings me joy is looking at something that’s been designed well.

The clean feel with the warmth of colors and textures that come together to make a house feel more like a home has always held a special place in my heart. And staying clean and organized helps not only our physical space, i.e. if you clean out your fridge after you grocery shop each week, you more than likely won’t have a three week old container of whatever growing mold. But it also gives us the mental clarity to not worry about having to clean out the fridge. And this type of organizational mind space can be extended to other areas of your life as well.

In short, sticking to your values can create more ease in your day to day life. It may not be easy to begin this change to values based thinking and acting, but it will definitely help to create more confidence in how you move through the world.

Finding the Middle

Values are important, because they give us they impetuous to define how and who we want to be. But taken too seriously and you can become rigid and unyielding. On the other hand, if you side step your values when situations become difficult, then they aren’t really your values. So finding a middle ground to balance out being too ridged or too lax is important.

When I was younger, honor was driven into me as one of my values in the most militant way I could imagine. A family member would pull me out of bed at two in the morning and drill into me the importance of being a man. This was terrifying for a child of 8, but I held very close to those values, to the point of being mean and unforgiving to others. This is an example of taking values too far in one direction.

On the other side of the spectrum, in my teens and twenties, I was reckless and had no boundaries. I drank to excess and lived in squaller. I was looking to avoid the responsibility of being an adult at all costs, using whatever means necessary. Now that I’ve matured, I’ve been able to find the middle, where I’ve learned to be forgiving, while also holding to my values without judging those who hold values different from mine.

Don’t Worry You’ll Find Your Way

This was something I wish had been told to me as a child. I was so worried about how to feel belonging, that I didn’t have any values. I was just doing what everybody else was doing, hoping to feel accepted. And all the while not realizing who I was becoming. Spoiler, it wasn’t who I wanted to be. So if you’ve found that you are lacking in some moral center, or want to explore your values some, know that it is totally possible and you are probably already practicing some of what makes you, the best version of yourself.

For some more reading on the subject, my therapist introduced me to the 8 C’s and 5 P’s of IFS. This is a quality list of values that aren’t hyper masculine or gender specific. So they’re perfect for starting out on your journey to discovering what your values are and how to cultivate the ones that look, well, like they have some value to you. And know that it is never too late to cultivate the version of yourself you want to be. All you need to do is get out there and make it happen. Peace : ) and thanks for reading.

Image Credits: “Value” by cameraburps is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Finding Purpose: Ikigai, The Japanese Concept Of A Life Well Lived

Not too long ago I was speaking with a friend about her decision to make a career switch. She’s a baker, like me, but is thinking about getting into the user interface side of the tech industry. We’re the same personality type on the Myers-Briggs so I can see her doing that type of work well. While we were on the topic, she sent me a link to an article about finding your Ikigai, a Japanese term that translates to finding your life’s purpose. And what’s more, there’s a practical guide to finding out what this is for you! I was hooked. But first, let me tell you a little about why this was so exciting for me to read about.

The Drift

Drifting through life listlessly was something that I knew all too well. I had drifted through my teens, twenties and through most of my thirties before I got a sense of how I wanted to live my life and the direction I wanted to take it in. This article, for me, was just frosting on the cupcake (thanks Sarah). A logical way to organize your passions is just the type of thing I’m passionate about and partly what this blog is about for me. But it took a lot of drifting for me to get to this point of self discovery.

The drift first started for me when I was in childhood still. My family had broke apart in what felt like one fell swoop and from that point on I had lost the support and foundation I had previously felt from my family. I was on my own from a very early age and it seemed that I was failing every test that life was throwing my way. It was a strange journey.

I remember looking at pornography as early as eight-years old, drinking when I was thirteen. Skipping school and falling in with the “wrong crowd” when I was in middle school and later, moving from sketchy apartment to unstable living situation until my late twenties. This was something that I attribute to not having many, if any stable role models growing up, showing me how to live a sustainable life. Just me, floating from uncertain situation to uncertain situation.

Role Models Matter

I’ve said before on this blog, my role models were living life like Jim Morrison, so I lived like him. And we all know how that story ended. But I studied Jim none-the-less, to find a sense of belonging as well as trying to have a good time while doing it. But as Modest mouse so aptly put it, the good times were indeed killing me.

I was drinking too much and avoiding all the relationships in my life, including the one with myself. It was a lonely place to be. I continued down this path until my early thirties, when things began to shift for me. But before that, I had literally no healthy role models to speak of and nothing to aspire to.

I kept shifting career focus in my schooling and it took me almost sixteen years to get my bachelors degree from start to finish! I changed my major twice and racking up close to 100k in debt in student loans and credit cards. This was a terrifying place to be. And all the while, no one thought to step in and intervein on my behalf. I understand that I was an adult, but I was also left to raise myself from the age of eight. Any guidance would have been helpful.

But unfortunately I was also the type of person who would scoff at the idea that I needed guidance. Mostly because I was taught that it was a sign of weakness to need somebody else’s help. This was the opposite of a healthy, well adjusted way of moving through life. I go into this some in my post on “Isolation and Being a Man“, about the unhealthy lessons I was taught on having to do it all on my own. Which is impossible, but that part of the lesson was left out of my schooling.

The Outcome

The outcome wasn’t good. I was left almost completely on my own save for a handful of supports, who thank God for them or things could have been really terrible for me. But I was still very much on my own, without any idea on how to move forward in my life.

My career was stagnant and I had little direction on where to go to do what I wanted while changing my life’s trajectory. I had some ideas on what I liked to do, but no idea how to shape that into something that I could make money from doing. This is the point where I needed to come up with a plan to make things happen for myself.

The Plan

This is where and when I started to take control of my situation by looking at what my strengths are and finding out what I liked and disliked. Luckily for me, I love it when a plan comes together : ) My MBPT is INTJ, so I’m a big picture person. This fits in beautifully with the Japanese concept of Ikigai, which in its most fundamental elements is; what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and something you can get paid for. Where all of these elements come together, this place is known as your Ikigai.

So my plan then became to look at my strengths and likes and then put them together to come up with a way to make them my focus and passion. And hopefully I’ll help some people along the way. So I began looking at the elements that come together that make me, me.

The Elements

I’ve always known that I like to organize things. Whether it’s a spice cabinet or my budget, I enjoy bringing different components together to be functional and coincide in harmony. I believe this is why bullet journaling is so appealing to me. It’s a place to organize thoughts and ideas while adding your own character to the process.

I also enjoy the different elements that come together that make a house, a home. I enjoy burning candles and the ambiance of a dimly lighted room. I enjoy engaging the senses through essential oil diffusers and softly playing music in the background. Being in the kitchen cooking meals is another source of enjoyment for me. The smells and heat from the range, smoker and oven, foods fermenting on the counter in colorful jars. The small things that come together to create a cozy environment.

Our shared green space is also something that’s been a resource for me. From some of my oldest memories of chanterelle picking with my uncle in the verdant mountains of Vermont, to hiking Killington on the Appalachian Trail a few years back, preserving these spaces is important to me. The fresh air and the scenery alone are well worth it, not to mention the environmental benefits keeping these spaces healthy brings.

And finally, bringing family and friends together in a sustainable way. A way where we can enjoy each others company in a non-judgmental, caring and kind way. Where we can enjoy and take comfort in the support and love we provide for one another. These are the things I love.

I also find refuge in writing. When I’m in the middle of putting a piece together, or come up with a fresh idea to write about, there’s a feeling of novelty, a sense of a new beginning. And being able to clearly communicate to others, be heard and hear others, is also something that’s very dear to me. Giving voice to the voiceless. Oh, and building things : )

Bringing It Together

Now that I have a good idea of what the elements of my personality are and most importantly, what brings me a sense of joy, I can use these as a jumping off point, into my Ikigai.

As an example of how my interests intersect my career path, I’m currently work in a family shelter. A sort of holding place for families experiencing homelessness. Although the circumstances are definitely sad, the attitudes are generally upbeat and surprisingly positive.

One of the ways I’ve been finding fulfillment at the shelter is by going through each area in the building, finding a new section of the shelter that needs a little TLC, and then organize and clean the crap out of these spaces.

A few weeks ago I started cleaning and organizing the pantry and kitchen storage in the shelter. If you’ve read my post on rotating your food stores, you’ll know I’ve already done a version of this in my own home. There’s a certain satisfying feeling I get when I look in my fridge and cabinets and see all my foods neatly organized as though they were shelves in a grocery. This probably hits me in a most primal place of food security, survival.

The Ikigai for me here is; I love to organize things, and especially food, the families needed a kitchen that was functional and well stocked with fresh foods, and I was getting paid for it. But watching the families gather in the kitchen and use the items I recently stocked was a rewarding feeling and the drive behind wanting to organize and clean. Watching them find joy in my work.

Living in a shelter, I can only imagine the amount of insecurity they are experiencing. So having enough food to fill this basic need must be a huge burden lifted from their day to day concerns. One more thing I’m able to help them with while also experiencing a sense of joy in the task.

And what’s more is, I was offered a full time position at the shelter helping to coordinate resources for the staff and families in helping find them permanent homes. So my love of organizing helped to show my dedication to the tasks that I take on, enough to be seen as indispensable. And all this by following where my interests lay.

Doing it For Yourself

When I was drifting, I didn’t have a focus, an anchor point. So I drifted from person to person, looking to be validated externally by what their expectations of me were. As a result, I wasn’t really living a life that was true to what I wanted, or what I even liked. This was no bueno, plain and simple. But that doesn’t mean that all of my previous experiences where negative ones, or something to be dismissed.

For example, I’m a baker by trade now and have worked in a variety of different capacities over the years. From bread baker to pastry chef, I’ve made a lot of baked goods. All of these past experiences have not only given me a great deal of appreciation for cooking and a zest for eating, it’s also given me the chance to work with some of the kindest and most generous people I’ve ever met. Such is the case with my current employer. Without their guidance and wisdom, I wouldn’t have made the choices and gained the experience to make me more of the best version of myself. And I will forever be grateful for their guidance.

What this means is, even if you’re not in your dream job right now, which I imagine is the case for most of us, find what you do like about the job you’re doing now. What are the aspects or tasks you have now that spark a little bit of creativity? What are the areas that bring you a sense of satisfaction when you complete them? Find these tasks and see where you can take them. Here is the starting point to finding your Ikigai.

I hope this has been helpful in some way. If you’ve found yourself in a place where you aren’t enjoying the different aspects of your job, maybe it’s time to dig a little deeper. Who knows what you’ll pull out. And maybe in the process, you just may find your calling. Peace, and thank for reading : )

Image Credits: “Ikigai- Japanese concept meaning ‘A reason for being’” by Mikel Agirregabiria Agirre is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Do I Know What My Boundaries Are? How to Tell if You’re Boundaries Need Shoring Up

Boundaries are another area I spend a lot of time on in this blog. Reason being, if you were raised in an environment where your boundaries were constantly being violated as I have, then it can be difficult to know what is and is not acceptable in regards to boundaries. I didn’t even know what a boundary was! And even worse, I confused a lack of boundaries for affection in some cases. This was not ideal.

What are My Boundaries

Luckily, I’ve learned a lot about what healthy boundaries are and what they are not. But it took a lot of putting myself in some pretty shady situations. Lessons that I could have probably learned in a much healthier fashion. In this post I’ll be talking about how to establish your boundaries and also how to tell when they’re being encroached on. These are difficult waters to navigate when you have no bearings in the way of role models. But there are ways of finding your bearings. It’s not impossible, but it can be difficult. And in difficult times I like to remember the phrase, “we were built for this”. Let’s find some healthy boundaries together. : )

Where Are My Boundaries?

As I said above, boundaries can be tricky to establish. If you’ve been immersed in an environment where a lack of boundaries was the norm, than knowing where yours end and another’s begins isn’t clear. Or maybe your boundaries were too rigid, too defined. This can be just as frustrating as having no boundaries. Either way, if you’ve been left in one of these boats, you’re gonna need to find another vessel. Luckily there are places to find out what a healthy mix of boundaries looks like. Let’s take a look at being raised with no boundaries first. These can be, I feel, the most confusing.

No Boundaries

Being raised with no boundaries can be very confusing when trying to navigate your young, chaotic world. For me, no boundaries meant being mean to others with callous disregard for their emotions. Eating anything and everything I felt like when I felt like it. Picking up vices like smoking and drinking at an early age (14) and using them to excess. Also using others and confusing a lack of boundaries for affection.

Living without boundaries was due to a lack of healthy role models showing me appropriate boundaries. I was mostly looking to feel loved by my neglectful caregivers, by acting the ways that I watched them behave. My caregivers were mean and rancorous. So I was mean spirited and rancorous. It’s what I thought it meant to be grown up, mature. Later, when I realized that my role models were acting like Jim Morrison, I knew I had been mislead.

Trying to Fit in by Copying What was Shown to Me

Being raised with no boundaries came with a feeling of desperation because of the lack of connection I felt. My thoughts were consumed with what I could do to feel a sense of love and belonging. I thought I could feel connected by doing the things that my family was doing. But these things were clearly disregarding my best interests.

For example I stopped going to school at around age 15 and was drinking quite a bit as well. Also in my teen years, I never exercised and my diet wasn’t stellar either. And I did this all because I was looking for some way to belong. To anything that would give me a sense of comfort and security. Who at the time were my family and the people I was friends with who resembled my family. Not realizing all the while how far I was straying from the ways I could have cultivated, to create a sense of security and comfort for myself.

Confusing a Lack of Boundaries for Affection

And the worst part of having no boundaries was, I confused a lack of boundaries for affection. I assumed that any chance for contact was good because I was so desperate for it. This was because I didn’t have a tight bond with my caregivers. I figured, if I let them do whatever they wanted to me, the greater chance I would have of being loved by them. For me that meant they could say whatever they wanted to me. Or go through my personal belongings whenever they felt. Invade my personal space on a whim and treat me as though I weren’t a person with basic needs and rights.

However, this set me up for my relationships with the women to fail. I would often times feel as though I were never enough. As though I needed someone to treat me poorly in a relationship, because I felt I wasn’t worthy enough to be in a healthy one. This left me feeling uneasy in my relationships. Also, lucky that a woman would even consider being with me. This perpetuated the cycles of poor boundaries and low self esteem. So I acted in arrogant ways to cover over my feelings of inadequacy.

Result? Burnt Bridges

The end result was a lot of burned bridges and a staggering amount of unhealthy habits. I had no career prospects. I had ended the most stable relationship I had been in for eight years, almost on a whim. And I had no idea what my future was going to hold or felt like I had the ability to change it. For all intents and purposes, I was one unfortunate event away from being homeless. Completely without resources. I had made a life’s time worth of poor decisions and many of them could be traced back to being raised with no boundaries or very rigid boundaries.

Rigid Boundaries

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the spectrum, my other caregivers had very rigid boundaries. There was no physical touch (not that there was much with the other side of my family.) We never talked about how we felt either. There were never conversations about who we were as people. Preferences, likes and dislikes weren’t discussed. We seldom had any conversations that went deeper than the state of the weather. We also barely saw each other as well. Any chance we had to build a relationship was frozen by the oppressive frigidity of the nature of our relationship.

These types of boundaries left me feeling as though I wasn’t good enough to be around. As though there was something wrong with me. Though nothing was ever explicitly said, there was an uncomfortable air of feeling deeply wrong. Looking back, I can recognize that if my family didn’t want to touch, talk to or get to know their own son, there must be something wrong with me. Again, a sense of desperation set in as I tried to figure out why I was being rejected. Only this time the rules had changed. I felt empty and as though I wasn’t good enough. But there was also a lack of trust on my caregivers part as well.

Trusting Others is Difficult with Rigid Boundaries

I had no idea that the lack of trust didn’t stem from me. Only that the rigidity, the stiffness of the boundaries made me feel as though, if I wasn’t behaving properly, or wasn’t as stoic or serious as my caregiver were, than I wasn’t good enough.

I was being rejected again, but I had no idea what I was or wasn’t doing. However I did know that some attention was better than none. So for me, a lack of boundaries was more “nourishing” than being completely rigid.

Making the Choice

So I chose to emulate my caregivers that resembled Jim Morrison. And live the destructive lifestyle that came with it. I would later make the switch to becoming rigid in my boundaries. Basing my values on how much I could sacrifice, while thinking in black and white terms. But no matter which path I chose, I still didn’t feel belonging. This was where I came to realize just how unhealthy my boundaries and relationships truly were. This is something I’m still coming to terms with. But I’ve picked up some resources along the way that have helped me to make some sense of my relationships. Let’s take a look at a few of them. Hopefully some will find them useful.

Finding Insperation

I have a few photos on my phone’s wallpaper, that rotate as reminders to me. They are: two photos of dogs I want, a photo of Adriene from yoga with Adriene, a photo of Dana Schultz from The Minimalist Baker, Tom Hanks, a picture of the bedroom I would one day like to build in my future home and a photo of Tupac Shakur. The reason I bring up these photos is because they’ve come to represent a sense of balance in my life. Things that I’m aspiring to and where I’ve come from.

Companionship

The photos of the dogs helps to remind me of the possibility for companionship, unconditionally. I’ve never seen a dog look at a person and say, “I can’t wag my tail at you. You’re too ugly.” They are just little fluffballs of loving energy. This helps to remind me that no matter how rigid boundaries have been in the past, there are always sources of healthy connection and affection. I just need to find them and choose them.

Caring for Myself & My Limits

The photo of Adrienne reminds me that there are people out there doing good work. They don’t have to sacrifice themselves to be liked or accepted. And in fact, are loved and accepted for pursuing something they love to do. Adriene is also a source of positive energy and motivation. As well as helping me to look out for my health.

Yoga has taught me how to care for my physical self without pushing myself beyond what I’m capable of. Taking care of myself on the mat is a way for me to respect my boundaries around how much I feel I should be accomplishing. Especially when I feel my boundaries are too rigid. I.e. pushing myself beyond what I’m capable of achieving. I know that the purpose of my practice isn’t to push myself until I pass out. I’m there to listen to my body. Also respond to its needs with care. Push my limits, while also listening to what my body is telling me.

Nutritional Needs

The same is true of my photo of Dana from Minimalist Baker. She has seen me through some tough times while helping me learn how to cook for and care for my nutritional needs. All the while, not sacrificing the flavors I love. I owe her a great deal and am constantly grateful for what she’s taught me. Dana was the start of me understanding what healthy boundaries looked like in regards to food and nutrition. And I eat a healthier diet thanks to her.

Kindness

Tom Hanks is there mostly for the roles he played in the movies I grew up watching. There was a time where he was the only responsible role model I had. I watched as he showed care for the people he was acting with. And cared for them in a stable and responsible way. He was never abusive, mild in temperament and shared freely his emotional world. These traits showed me that it wasn’t ridiculous to have a reasonable expectation of a person. That it was normal and healthy to have healthy boundaries.

And growing up in a void of healthy role modeling meant that there was nobody to talk to. The T.V. was my closest family member. This made for a very lonely upbringing. I was never really sure of what I was feeling. And the lack of connection and neglect was, looking back on it, abusive. I’m surprised that I’ve made it as far as I have. And relatively unscathed.

Levity

Which brings me to Tupac. Tupac is on my phone to remind me of where I came from. As the man said, “everybody and their lady got a little bit of thug in ’em”. Me included. Which is funny, because I was and still am, mostly a hippie. : ) But Tupac reminds me that when I feel those rigid boundaries begin to creep in, the ones that tell me I have to be as good as humanly possible, or else, to ease up.

Bringing Balance to Your Boundaries

Everybody has a little rebellious streak in them. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, if you let that side take the reigns as I did, life can get out of control quickly. But stifle it too much and you’ll become paralyzed by fear.

So whether you’ve had poorly defined boundaries, or too rigid ones, there are ways to find a new way of being that leaves you feeling as though you are in charge of your life. While also being able to let go a little and relax. But it takes work. Boundaries, unfortunately, don’t build themselves. But with some dedication and a few good role models, it’s possible to create ones that will aid you.

So if you’re looking to shore up your boundaries, start by choosing some healthy role models. Are there people you are drawn to that seem to have a healthy grasp on their life? Start there. What are they doing that you admire? What are drawn to? Do you have behaviors you are unhappy with? Or wish you could change? These areas are worth exploring more. Maybe find someone who has been in your shoes. What are they doing and how have they changed?

I hope this has been helpful to you in some way. It isn’t an easy path. To nurture something like boundaries that have been neglected for such a long time. But it’s worth it in the end. So stay strong! And remember, you were built for this! Thanks for reading : ) peace.

Image Credits: “Blurring Boundaries” by Karthick R is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Updated: 10/25/22

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