A MAJOR part of my journey to find my sex drive was dealing with resentment.
There’s a post all about it here, but safe to say my partner used to piss me off all the time and I’d simmer away in the background spending time coming up with mad plots to get my own back. Instead of just, ya know, talking to him.
This had a HUGE impact on my sex drive and I didn’t want to have sex with him because (at times!) I really felt like I hated him! Healthy right?
What I *painfully* realised was that resentment is unequivocally linked to boundaries.
If some part of you and the way you live your life is impeded upon, and you don’t stand up for yourself or resolve the issue, you find yourself becoming smaller and smaller as you give way to someone else.
And resentment can build until it becomes deafening.
And I also quickly realised I was going to need to start speaking up for myself and every line I felt he had crossed in order to get back my desire. Which was no small task for someone who HATES conflict and speaking out.
So, I needed to pull out the big guns, swallow my pride and take a deep breath to begin this journey.
I’ll share with you below the amazing tips I found that helped me not only understand what my boundaries even were, and then how to command them- even when it felt totally weird to start asking for what I wanted.
Step one- finding out what your boundaries are
This is arguably the hardest part where boundaries are concerned. In the past, it’s likely that having loose boundaries has been a coping mechanism for you– maybe you don’t like conflict, or you feel like it’s anything for a peaceful life. Maybe it’s been easier to drift along with others, blaming them if things go wrong. Allowing others to do what they want has meant you haven’t needed to face fears around telling others no, or not “people pleasing”. You’ve also not had to take responsibility for yourself- and everything that comes with it, including fear (of failure, upsetting others etc). All of this leaves us in a victim mindset, rather than embracing the power we really have to change our lives.
If you’re anything like me, first up in understanding what your boundaries are is, as Brene Brown says: “get comfortable with emotions- you’re gonna start to feel them!”.
We often numb ourselves to our emotions to make life easier, and swallow them in favour of other people’s thoughts and feelings. But a big part of figuring out your boundaries is letting yourself feel.
Brene also says- “You can’t know what you want to DO until you know how you FEEL”. So the best place to start is tuning into yourself and working out how you feel– getting to know yourself and make space for you to step into it. Some ways to do this include:
- Journalling and recording your emotions
- Watch for situations where you give away power and think about how it feels. These are your boundaries!
- Understand more about emotions using the emotion wheel
- Explore what your values are– if you know what is important to you you’ll figure out what ‘t put up with
- Make a list of what gives you energy and what depletes it. These will help inform your boundaries.
Step two- the boundaries mindset
Some core beliefs to work on in order to feel worthy to set boundaries are:
- Know that no-one else’s feelings are more or less important than yours- we are all equal
- Know that we can’t control others, we can only control ourselves and our responses to situations.
- If they don’t respond well to you setting boundaries, that’s on them!
Having boundaries is the kindest thing you can do both for yourself and the people around you
- How has having loose boundaries served me in the past? How has it held me back?
- What do I feel I need to do/need to be before I can be powerful? How many of those things are real or imagined?
Step three-how to defend your boundaries
This sounds terrifying hey- like being in a big tall tower and pulling up the drawbridge and raining down arrows on a colleague who asks you to meet a deadline.
But in fact, defending your boundaries is just about protecting your time and energy so you are living life in the way that feels good to you.
Opportunities to put in boundaries this will come up everyday- from being accosted by a charity collector on the street to having sex with a beloved partner. And it’s usually practise that makes perfect, so here are my top tips on how to protect your time and energy in a way that is assertive and kind to others:
It’s helpful to use I statements- e.g. “I feel ____ when you ____”
Claudia Melli believes that we often talk about what we want in terms of what we don’t want! Instead, don’t complain, own it and turn it into a positive about what you DO want. E.g. “I would like if if you didn’t use that tone with me”
Call out behaviour and recognise the emotion, e.g. “I understand you are angry, but shouting at me is not acceptable.”
Boundaries don’t need to be words- you can also do things like leave the room, not reply to a text etc.
Practise outside the bedroom- start small
Circle back later- don’t let things stand. This is what builds resentment.
Say it in the moment, don’t wait until later. Nip behaviour you don’t like in the act.
Prepare the other person- let them know you’d like to work on your boundaries and they may find that you are saying no or expressing your needs more, and you’d like their support and understanding
How are you feeling about putting in boundaries now? Have you found anything that helped? Tell us in the comments.