When it comes to setting boundaries, we typically think about the boundaries that we set with the people in our lives. Yet it’s not so often talked about setting boundaries with yourself and for many people this is a more difficult thing to do. But if you don’t have strong internal boundaries then it can be difficult to set external boundaries.
Internal boundaries are how we interact with our emotions, thoughts, and physical wellbeing.
Internal boundaries are when you are able to feel your emotions and be able to give it the attention it needs without it overpowering you. An example is allowing yourself to feel sad at the loss of a family pet without that feeling overwhelming you.
Healthy internal boundaries also regulate your thoughts about yourself and reactions from other people’s statements and judgements towards you.
For example, when self limiting thoughts pop into your head like “I’m stupid”, “I’m a failure” or “I can’t do X” having good internal boundaries will quickly shut down those thoughts. It’s when you can tell yourself “nope, that thought is inappropriate and doesn’t define who I am.” or some version of that. Don’t allow yourself to be defined by specific thoughts.
Having good internal boundaries help you learn to take pause before reacting to an emotion. If a co-worker accuses you of something that isn’t true, when you have strong internal boundaries you can stop yourself from taking your emotions out on that person and give yourself time to calm down and respond appropriately.
When you have developed healthy and strong internal boundaries it also lets you say “no” to unhealthy thoughts as well as keeping to a plan around your eating and exercise habits. When you get that desire to eat a cookie after a meal, a healthy internal boundary will say “no, I don’t need that and it will keep me from reaching my goals” or by not letting that “I don’t wanna!” thought win when you had planned to go to the gym. It’s creating a strong self advocate for yourself.
So how do you go about setting up good internal boundaries?
- Define a limit
- Define what appropriate actions will have to support that limit
- Build a supportive mindset to strengthen your boundary
For example – Becoming more consistent with exercise
- Define your limit:
I’m no longer going to allow weak excuses and “I don’t want to” statements to hold you back
- Appropriate actions
- Have your gym back packed and in your car
- sign up for and pre-pay for any exercise classes you are going to take
- schedule time to meet your friend at the gym
- pre-pay for personal training sessions (and pre-schedule those sessions)
- have alternative activities when life goes weird on you (have a walking route set up, have a short at-home workout setup, etc)
- Supportive mindset
Statements like “Although I’m feeling a bit run down, I know working out will make me feel better.
I deserve this time for myself
Practice makes this easier.
At first setting these boundaries and holding yourself accountable to them can be challenging, yet the more you keep yourself accountable the easier it will become for you. And for the times that you mess up, being kind to yourself will help you the next time.
If this is something that you are having a difficult time with, part of what we do at Phoenix Fitness is bariatric mindset coaching. We can help you build these internal boundaries along with coaching you through other roadblocks to your success.
Geof has been working with bariatric surgery clients for over a decade. His goal with Coaching For Bariatric Success is to give you the tools to make your weight loss successful for the long term.