Struggle with boundaries? This is for you.
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Do you struggle with boundaries, asking for help, saying no or stating your needs?
When it comes to speaking up and asking for what you need, it’s virtually impossible when you don’t have a clear sense of that within yourself.
If you’ve ever struggled with burnout, exhaustion or overwhelm, you’ve probably realised that fuzzy boundaries had a big part to play in that process.
Learning to speak up and set limits or ask for adjustments can be one of the toughest parts of recovery.
Why should I get “special treatment”?
Asking for what you need - explicitly, precisely - and learning to be uncompromising in this is inherent to a healthy life.
This is all the more true when you’re highly sensitive, neurodivergent or in any way non-standard because people don’t automatically understand what life is like in your world.
One of the biggest pieces in my journey of learning how to thrive as a neurodivergent person is unearthing my sense of what’s ok for me and what’s not.
When you don’t fit, one of the ways society deals with that is to render invisible anything that doesn’t conform.
You learn to minimise your “ness” whether that’s blackness, queerness, transness, womanness, working class roots-ness, giftedness, disabledness (the list goes on) in an effort to conform to the white, ableist, capitalist norm.
I was lucky to grow up in a family that was really open to difference in a lot of ways. I had a parent who was pretty open about his mental ill-health, for example. No-one turned a hair when I recently came out as bi-sexual. As a white middle class woman I have a lot of privilege in this area.
Yet, part of my “ness” that was hugely minimised was extreme sensitivity, need for deep quiet, and a good amount of predictability, among other things.
Suppressing and ignoring core parts of your way of being can lead to a warped sense of self.
Because no one was paying close, deep attention to how I actually am, I had no idea what I needed.
As an adult, I had a compromised roadmap for making decisions, because I simply couldn’t tell what was ok for me.
I thought of myself as very go-with-the-flow, easy going, outgoing, resilient. These things are all true to an extent, but far from the whole story. I didn’t protect myself or assert myself around my extreme sensitivity, because I didn’t even notice it.
When I had an inkling, I doubted that insight.
It has taken me years and years of recovery, and now, finally someone IS paying good, close attention to my unique way of being: ME!
Even if you didn’t have this growing up, it IS recoverable.
My girlfriend has been crucially instrumental in this process of self-learning for me. It was her who flagged up early on that I wasn’t like other people she’d encountered and it's been with her support, encouragement and acceptance that I’ve been fully exploring my own neurodivergence.
Rather than shaming me for it, she wanted to understand how I tick.
Each time she learned something new she made a note of it. She hasn’t just invited me to be explicit about what I need, she has encouraged it. We joke about developing a kind of “Alice operator Manual”. In fact, I discovered a while ago that she actually keeps notes….
We’re all special. We all deserve to have what we need.
You’re not propping up a cripple when you help me listen to what I need.
You’re priming a genius.
Learning to say what you need can be a long journey recovery. Be gentle with yourself as you embark. And know that this is the territory: first take the time to really listen to yourself. Develop your own set of operator instructions. Then be proud of asking the world to help bring forth your genius.
I’ve put together some of the most essential practices for you to rediscover what you need and design your life around it. So you can thrive while doing the things you care about.
DO LESS. BETTER. 11 Tools For Success Without Burnout. For highly-sensitive, ambitious women.
Here are some highlights:
◦ Simple, intuitive practices to help you feel confident about your boundaries.
◦ Harness your unique “ness” as a powerful lever for success.
◦ Make a lot more happen with a lot less effort.
If you struggle with boundaries, saying no, asking for help or stating your needs, can you pinpoint where this shows up the most in your life? Let me know your answer in the comments.