The journey to living the authentic life is one of self discovery. When we are children, then teenagers we start to set some of our own boundaries. In most cases, setting your own boundaries as a child or a teenager is met with some sort of punishment because parents, teachers, coaches and other authority figures don’t want you pushing the artificial boundaries that they feel responsible for. When most people reach adulthood, they still have these artificial outside imposed boundaries programmed into their emotional behavioral patterns and often become walls that trap us into rote behavior.
The challenge in life is one of needing to grow personally in life while being constrained by invisible forces that have been programmed into you for years. We haven’t learned how to say no to people telling you what to do or people telling you what you should do. As a result, we say yes too often from outside demands from friends, family, bosses, co-workers, neighbours and any do-gooding group that suddenly appears to want some of your time and or money. When you finally reach the breaking point and say no, you are left with feelings of guilt because you weren’t nice.
There are barriers to setting boundaries, and the first is the assumption that you have “be nice. Dr. Aziz Gizipura, a self-confidence expert in his book ‘Not nice: Stop People pleasing, staying silent & Feeling Guilty…Start Speaking Up, Saying No, And Unapologetically Being Yourself. He believes that niceties are based on an inaccurate formula which is an urban myth – “if I please others…then others will like me, love me, shower me with approval and everything else I want” He refers to this phenomenon as “the niceness cage”. His belief is that not being nice is really being your authentic self and allows you to be true to your own values. Dr. Nicole LePera, a Wholistic Psychologist says in her book – ‘How to do the Work’, “learning to say no and not being compliant all the time is an important part of reclaiming yourself. Learning to say no is often the kindest thing you can do for yourself and the ones you love.” Dr. LePera says that “the walls we build in childhood when we have strict rules of conduct are a form of protection that stops us from having the willpower to be free to make spontaneous connections with other humans. Staying safe and controlled is an assumption that goes along with those childhood walls.”
Dr. LePena observes that if you had very strict boundaries imposed as a child or a teenager, then you will have very loose boundaries in your life where you will be engaged in compulsive people pleasing, you will define your self-worth by others’ opinions, you will generally be unable to say no, consistently overshare private information, and will become a chronic fixer, helper, saver or rescuer.
Dr. LePena says that by having flexible boundaries you will be aware of your self-worth, values, thoughts, opinions or beliefs. This will lead to better communication of your needs to others, you will be able to share personal information appropriately, be able to say no when needed while accepting others doing the same thing. You then will be able to properly regulate your emotions while allowing others to express themselves.
The more you accept who you are, the less likely you will be bothered by your own shortcomings. When you live your life in authenticity owning all your faults, you are truly free. You will be more content, happy and have more self-confidence. Being an authentic person is not an easy path as you are often swimming upstream or taking the road less traveled because there is the potential of pissing off other people that have certain judgemental behaviors and you probably will have a hard time fitting into groups because of their imposed boundaries. Yes, it is not easy to speak your own truth or to stand up for what you believe in because undoubtably you will be traveling the road less traveled or breaking trail yourself. When all is said and done, you are demonstrating emotional fitness on your journey through a mature self-guided adventure in life and at the end of the day you will be respected by those that truly matter in your life.
Living the authentic life through your path of emotional fitness is well demonstrated by Dr. Seuss when he said” Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.
You are welcome to contact the writer of this article, Keaton Van Bryce, a licensed Emotional Fitness® Coach in Calgary, Alberta, Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org . Keaton is also a subject matter expert in trauma, is a multi-disciplinary entrepreneur, trainer, older athlete and published author.