One of the challenges on the spiritual path, particularly when it comes to enforcing boundaries, is self-doubt.
As you begin to follow your intuition and look within for guidance, you often start saying NO to a whole bunch of things – requests, demands, so-called obligations, invitations – that you used to say yes to, begrudgingly.
Things you used to say yes to out of a sense of obligation, or duty, or not wanting to offend or disappoint other people.
Things you thought you should say yes to.
In this process, you sometimes question yourself internally. For example:
– Am I being too rigid/harsh with this boundary?
– Am I being selfish in stating my needs?
– Is this something I actually want to do, or something I feel I should do?
– Is it ok for me to enforce this boundary?
Boundaries & Family Expectations
In my own life, I’ve had this self-questioning come up with boundaries related to my in-laws.
Particularly when Garrett and I first got married, certain expectations of how I should behave were communicated to me indirectly (or spoken behind my back).
For example, I was expected to cook for Garrett. In our marriage, we just don’t prescribe to those traditional gender roles.
There was also the time when Garrett and his sister took my stepdaughter to Disney World, during peak season. I chose not to go because I knew that the Florida heat + crowds + noise + rides would equal constant overstimulation for me.
Garrett and I have also made the choice, for the last 4 years, to spend Thanksgiving just the two of us… instead of gathering with family.
In making these kinds of decisions, I’ve had moments of self-doubt, wondering:
– How am I being perceived?
– Is this a fair boundary?
– How many times can I say NO? (spoiler alert: there’s no limit!!)
– Am I disappointing or upsetting others?
– Am I not fulfilling the roles of “daughter-in-law” or “wife” or “stepmother” as expected?
But when I come back to my heart, I realize that this questioning is not coming from my Soul. It isn’t my Higher Self asking these questions.
It’s some other part of me – a limited, human, egoic part.
A part that fears being rejected or criticized.
A part that fears the consequences of not playing by society’s “rules” – especially when it comes to family expectations.
Moving Beyond Self-Doubt
When I tune in to my Soul and move beyond the external noise of social expectations, cultural norms, family dynamics and pressure, etc, etc – this is what emerges.
I hear a voice that tells me:
It’s NOT OK to hold myself hostage to rigid – and actually toxic – cultural and social ideas about family (for example: “blood is thicker than water”, “you must love and put up with family no matter what”, or “as a wife, you must take care of your husband in XYZ ways”).
It is ok to explore what family means to me, how I want to create my own family, and what my standards are for allowing people into my life (including family members).
It’s NOT OK to pressure myself into doing things I don’t want to do because of the fear of how others will perceive me (or if they will be upset).
It is ok to work through this fear and recognize that it’s not my job to please anyone – and that my needs, preferences, and intuition matter.
It’s NOT OK to live as a victim, constantly fearing other people’s criticism.
It is ok to accept that others’ criticism and perceptions of me are beyond my control, and then surrender to being authentically me.
It’s NOT OK to force myself to do what others want me to do and end up totally overwhelmed, drained, and depleted. (Been there, done that!)
It is ok to decline every single invitation or request that doesn’t light me up. Without having to give a lengthy excuse or explanation.
It’s NOT OK to live in worry and anxiety about disappointing others.
It is ok to make it safe to disappoint others – that is, to understand at a deep and core level that it’s safe for others to criticize me, or to think I’m weird or antisocial or woo woo, or to be upset with my boundaries. That’s THEIR business; not mine.
Turning it Over to You
If this is resonating, I invite you to explore two important questions:
What are you making ok in your life? What behaviors, relationships, habits are you allowing to continue – even though you know they’re actually NOT ok?
Where and in what areas of your life have you convinced yourself to be ok with things that are actually causing you suffering, depleting you, or robbing you of inner peace? How can you begin to change that?
Walking the path of spiritual awakening is challenging. It’s not for the faint of heart.
It requires you to be self-aware, to make choices from a conscious place, to continually examine your patterns and fears and motivations, and to clearly state what you will NO LONGER accept in your life.
In doing these courageous things, you can build a life that supports and nourishes you. A life that feels authentic and loving and deeply in integrity with who you really are.
You can do it!