The moment I saw those double lines, I knew my life was going to change in various significant ways. Sure, I anticipated the usual stress and anxieties that come along with being newly pregnant, but what I didn’t expect was how quickly the strength of my boundaries would be put to the test.
As someone whose work is built around helping others learn how to say “No” and set healthy boundaries in their lives, I found myself thinking, “How hard can pregnancy boundaries be to set, anyway?”
The answer: pretty freaking hard (at least, at first).
As the news of my impending little one began to spread, I found myself caught in an onslaught of prying questions, unsolicited advice, and opinions I, quite frankly, wasn’t ready to hear.
Where are you giving birth?
How much weight have you gained?
Oh, you’re giving birth THERE – what happens if something goes wrong?
Are you getting an epidural? Trust me, you’ll want it.
The above questions are a small sampling of the inquiries I received within the first 20 weeks of being pregnant. Not to mention, the unsolicited touching of my growing bump and a man telling me exactly how my labor and delivery would go (because that’s how his wife’s went)… *Insert eye-roll*
As a newly pregnant woman, I quickly discovered that I lacked my regular confidence and self-assuredness when it comes to setting boundaries. Instead, I felt overwhelmed, confused, and found myself second-guessing my intuition that usually is pretty darn spot-on. The more I thought about it, I realized that I’m simply out of my usual swim lane with this pregnancy. I’m navigating a life experience I’ve never encountered before and learning how to speak up for myself and trust my body in a space that feels pretty foreign.
But that’s what setting boundaries can feel like when you first start implementing them into your life where they’ve never been before.
They’re awkward, uncomfortable, and you will second-guess your decisions until the cows come home. More than likely, you will feel anxious and guilty about your newly set limits, and sometimes, those feelings will be so intense that you take back your “No” just to ease some of the tension.
In the moments when the guilt and anxiety feel like too much, it’s essential to remember that those feelings never entirely go away. Sure, with time and practice, they will lessen, but they will always linger. I was reminded of this fact when all past anxieties resurfaced when my boundaries were challenged while newly pregnant.
Instead of succumbing, remember that it’s completely normal to feel guilty and anxious when standing up for yourself, especially if it’s something you’re not used to regularly doing. Learn to sit with those feelings and see that they are only temporary and that, in fact, the world will still go on.
If there’s a piece of your life – at work, in your relationships, with family members, your finances, or with yourself – that feels like it would benefit from setting boundaries, prepare yourself for a learning curve. At the same time, analyze your life to see where you’re already killing it with saying “No” and setting limits, and work to apply those skills to the areas you’re feeling a little lackluster.
The above is precisely what I did to regain my power in the middle of a pregnancy-related barrage of questions.
To help you out, here’s a short checklist with tips to set healthy boundaries (even if they feel awkward):
- Keep your response quick and simple, yet firm
- Tap into your intuition and see what it’s trying to tell you
- Respond “Why do you ask?” to questions that feel prying or boundary-violating in some way
- Know that feeling guilty is a common feeling and doesn’t mean you’re out of line for standing your ground
- Make a list of things you’re really good at saying “No” to and get in touch with why you’re secure in these areas
Above all, it’s essential to remember that you’re worthy of setting boundaries and saying “No” to requests that aren’t in your best interest. Just because something feels awkward and difficult to navigate doesn’t mean you should give in and let others call the shots in your life.
You’ve totally got this.
Feature Image via Stocksy