The Limit Does Not Exist

Written by: Florence Taglight, contributing writer at Unpolished Journey and founder of her own blog (findingflo.co.uk)

Isn’t it funny how two words can have completely different meanings to different people, sometimes even the opposite? For example if you the friends episode where Joey gets all giddy about Charlie wearing thongs in Barbados……however she meant flip-flops not a thong to his dismay. Or for example when I said please can I have the rubber to someone in a class in America and quickly learnt that rubber has a VERY different meaning and in fact I was after an eraser.

So where am I going with all this?  As I’m sure you know this month’s intention and focus is all about boundaries; immediately I thought this meant the ability to push our boundaries, to set no limits, to achieve anything and everything we want too. However after reading the brilliant posts that have come before mine I soon realised that Emily and Morgan meant boundaries in a different way, the way I had in fact learnt in America: setting healthy boundaries. Nonetheless I shall write about my take on the theme, as we here believe that every viewpoint and perspective needs to be heard and discussed. Plus the more diverse we are the better and stronger.  

I was always told to go for my dreams and that I could be anything I wanted to be, but being told it and believing it aren’t the same thing at all. However I soon realised that the more I believe it the more  will prevail. By limiting my life to certain constraints in reality has just meant building the limits myself.

If we tell ourselves we can’t do this, or won’t ever be able to do that, those are just words right? They aren’t physical so ‘technically’ we actually can still do it, but no no our 21st century minds are far craftier than this. In our heads those words form cement that build bricks and end up creating walls.

And I think we all know our view on walls…

We often tell children or anyone else we care about to dream big, shoot for the stars, or that they are capable of reaching their dreams (maybe in a less cliché way), yet we are the first person to jump down our own throats and gripe ‘’Woaaah hold your horses Florence you will never be able to do…fill the blank with adventurous animal filled coffee discovering expedition’’ a.k.a ruling out that super cool fun expedition and never thinking of it again – hence turning words to walls.

So what I’m saying is stop setting boundaries, drawing lines, and putting up fences.

In the words of Caddy Heron ‘’ the limit does not exist ’’

P.S fun fact: She discovered this on October 3rd, which is also my birthday.

Protection or Connection?

Written by: Gracie Mayer, Facebook Manager and Contributing Writer of Unpolished Journey

“Gracie, what is your favorite part about playing the role of Annie?”

“The applause.”

In fourth grade I had the privilege of playing the ball-busting, red-headed orphan Annie in my school’s musical production of Annie.  I remember this exact question and my answer from a radio interview with a local radio station.  They asked what my favorite part about playing Annie was, and I immediately responded without hesitation: “the applause”.  Fast forward five years, 230 pimples and one driver’s license later and my answer was “the affirmations”.

“Gracie why do you always smile, try to make other people laugh and hide any negative emotions?”

“The affirmations.”

I never really saw myself as a girl with extremely low self esteem, and I was always able to find something nice to say about myself.  It wasn’t until the onset of my eating disorder that I realized I was living like a leach – relying on the affirmations from those I loved to create my self-esteem.  I didn’t realize that I didn’t have self-esteem because my “self” wasn’t involved.  I had “external esteem”, which I had grown to believe would only exist with a calculated performance of perfect emotional regulation and joy.  Don’t get me wrong, joy is my main mode of operation naturally, but when I began to notice that this quality attracted people to me, I suddenly began to believe it was the only quality that attracted people to me. Enter Gracie’s struggle with boundaries.  Oh, I hope they like me.  Oh no, don’t be sad EVER…stay joyful, stay joyful, stay joyful.  They’re sad, make them laugh.  They’re upset, cheer them up.  Of course, I was not everyone’s “pillar of strength”.  In fact, there were many times I turned to my sister for comfort, peace and to be myself.  My family helped provide a safe haven where I could experience more than joy and only joy.

This is what brings me to my little bit of insight into boundaries.  I loved Emily and Morgan’s views on boundary setting as a healthy emotional practice in learning to say no and accept your own limits with self care.  However, I want to take a different look at the power of boundaries.  You see, boundaries work two ways: boundaries work to keep people out and they also work to invite people in.  When I was putting on my brave, “only-pure-joy-and-positivity” face, I was actually keeping people out.  Without being consciously aware, I had created a boundary that would shield other people from having to deal with my full range of emotions and likewise would shield me from having to be truly brave and vulnerable with the emotions within myself I had deemed as undesirable.  I had created a boundary around myself as a protective shield for fear that if I let people into my inner world, they would not love me, not care for me, and ultimately I would end up alone.  You may know exactly what I am talking about, and this may manifest in a different way for you.  Some people create this wall by being only angry, only sad, only funny, only quiet, only selfless, only perfect, only smart.  Many people build walls and boundaries to keep the truth of their whole and complete selves a secret for fear that the entirety of who they are will not be accepted or is not enough.

However, boundaries can also be made to let people in.  My sister and I are actually in the midst of a lifelong practice of this.  As I mentioned before, my sister was often the person I felt I could most be myself around.  I felt that with my sister I could let down my walls and open a boundary that invited her in.  However, I often felt that my sister set a brick wall boundary, except her boundary and wall of protection was “only perfect” and “only strong”.  My sister was always perfect in my eyes.  She was successful, strong, supportive, intelligent, full of wisdom and advice, and always right.  It wasn’t until we both began to grow older, and she began to share some of her college experience and more personal life with me that I began to see my sister’s humanity…and guess what…I FELL IN LOVE WITH IT.  I still remember my sister sharing one fun story about going out on the town with her college friends, and I distinctly remember thinking…I want to be friends with my sister.  This may sound like a slap in the face because at this point I had known the woman for 17 years.  So why was it that just now I wanted to be her friend?  Of course we were always friends, we are sisters and we are each other’s ride or die.  However, I always felt like my sister was more like another guardian or protector.  Because she was older I often felt like she was out of my league for friendship, she was too put together, too wise, too perfect.  I often felt like there was something blocking her from creating a boundary that would let me in because instead she needed to be strong for me, support me, listen to my problems and give me all the advice.  When my sister began to break down that wall by simply telling me a story about more of her personal life, she began the process of setting a new boundary that invited me in.  As we continue to get older, I have loved getting to know my sister, watching her grow, change and blossom.  I have loved seeing more of her humanity and more of her beautiful soul.

Boundaries are not only about saying no, getting your needs met and understanding your limits.  Boundaries are also our tool for connection.  Sometimes it is appropriate to use boundary setting for protection and other times we need to use boundary setting for connection.  Boundaries can be set to guard our hearts and boundaries can be set to invite people to see more of our heart.  We are all different: some wear our hearts on our sleeves looking to open up to any and everyone, in which case we may need to learn to guard our hearts a little more.  Others guard our hearts too much preventing any deep, meaningful and fulfilling connection to happen.  Who are you?  What do boundaries look like for you?  And how can you adjust your boundaries to align more with your authentic self?

The Importance of Setting Boundaries

Written by: Emily Blair, Director of Operations at Unpolished Journey

If you read Morgan’s last post, you’ll know she brought up three different unhealthy roles in relationships which are doormats, enablers, and pleasers.  Well, I undoubtedly fall within the category of pleasers, which as Morgan puts it are “those who focus more attention on pleasing others than what they actually need.”  I do this because I have believed the lie that the only way people will like me is by putting their needs first.

This has stuck out in a lot of relationships in my life but two more significantly than others.

When I was in high school, I started dating a guy in the middle of my junior year.  It was exciting as it was my first boyfriend.  A guy I could finally spend and enjoy time with, right?!  That was the dream of what I thought our relationship would be.  But that was far from reality.

Pretty quickly into the relationship I found that he was obsessed with appearance.  He made comments about how we could perfect my skin (as I dealt with pretty severe acne), as well as how neither of us had very good “side views” for taking photos.  When he said those things, I didn’t want to disagree.  I didn’t want to cause conflict so I just nodded, told him he was right, and moved on.  Of course, this made me lose a sense of self-worth and made me believe I wasn’t beautiful.  And since body-image was already something I was insecure about, this lead to a very negative thought process.  But I let things like that happen over and over because I was the pleaser – I knew how to agree but I didn’t know how to say no or get angry and assert that those comments were not okay.  I just couldn’t.

The second relationship that stands out in which I became the pleaser was my freshman year roommate.  I went into freshman year imagining that my roommate and I were going to become best friends.  We both had dealt with body-image issues, and I had dreams of us lifting each other up and supporting each other throughout our first year away from home.  Well, again, things did not go as I expected.  My roommate began to overstep boundaries.  She began to use me as her therapist daily.  She began to project her insecurities on myself and because of this, I began to take on more insecurities than I had to begin with.  She wanted me to be her friend, her sister, her roommate, her mentor, her therapist, her everything.  And as we all know, this is just not humanly possible.  But again, me being a pleaser, I let her ask these things of me.  I felt like it was my duty to attend to all of these roles in order to allow this situation to work.  I was giving from an already empty cup, leaving me feeling hopeless and overwhelmed.  This time I did try and speak up.  But even after talking with her, she kept pushing the boundaries.  She kept overstepping.  I talked to her again, and she didn’t listen time and time again.

I have realized that once people recognize they can overstep my boundaries just once, they begin to continually take advantage of me.  And when I do finally try and ask them to stop, they don’t listen.  This has also taught me that it’s not worth trying to tell them no because people don’t care to listen!  In hindsight, I know it is because I failed to set the boundary in the first place.  If you have difficulty saying no and take that brave step to intentionally say no to someone, but they ask again, you are likely to succumb to the request the second time because it was hard enough to say no the first time.

So what’s my advice?  Be willing to say no from the beginning.  If you see something that is not okay, don’t let it happen once or more than once.  Stand up for yourself.  Use your voice (as scary as that might seem, it’s really powerful).

Secondly, stand your ground.  If you say no and someone asks again, say no again.  Honestly, this will encourage people to respect you a lot more.  I know I personally respect people who are willing to be upfront about boundaries.  It’s really counterintuitive, isn’t it?  We think saying yes is what will make us liked, when, in reality, holding true to our own authentic selves and saying no when we want to does just that.  I hope that gives you confidence in learning to say no.    

My third piece of advice is that us pleasers have to recognize our part in the relationship.  I was talking to my therapist about how I attract people who are willing to push boundaries and how I know it is due to my people pleasing nature.  And she responded saying “I’m glad you realize your role in it and that obsessive people aren’t just waiting to approach you on the street corner.”  It made me laugh.  Because yeah, I get it.  People meet me and think I can get whatever I want out of this girl.  And for people who push boundaries to begin with, I’m like a pot of gold.  Us people pleasers have to be willing to see that we have to work to change our own thoughts and actions and not put all of the blame on the other person.   

Maybe some of you can relate to this.  Maybe some of you can’t.  Wherever you stand on this topic, I want to ask something of the people who can’t relate to this.  Next time you are in a conversation with someone and they have difficulty saying no, maybe consider that they feel obligated to say yes.  Consider that they believe if they say no, you won’t like them anymore.  Because for me, saying no is as risky as deciding to run and jump off of the edge of the cliff even though you don’t know how far the drop is or where you’re headed towards.  Yes, it is that hard.  So, all I ask is that you consider the other side.

I used to believe that the way to make people like me was always saying yes.  It was to put their needs before mine – to agree with them and let them have their way.  I look back on this period of my life with a heavy heart because I wish I would’ve stood up for myself in those moments.  But I also know that without these experiences I would have never learned some very valuable lessons.  I would have never learned the power of saying no and setting boundaries.  I would have never learned how much I appreciate those who are willing to voice their own boundaries.  I will say that I’m still learning how to set boundaries and say no when I need to, and that I still struggle with this daily.  But I’ve improved.  And each day is a new opportunity to practice, no matter how small the boundary I’m setting may seem.

Oh, and to the guy I dated in high school: I don’t know what you’re looking at but I have a damn good side view.  

Moving Towards Healthy Boundaries

Written By: Morgan Blair, Founder and Creative Director of Unpolished Journey

Setting healthy boundaries is an essential part of treatment from an eating disorder…or so my team tells me. You have to learn how to speak your needs, stand up for your values, and have emotional balance within relationships.  This is true for everyone, not just those with eating disorders.  Though, it tends to be harder for people with eating disorders due to low self-esteem, caretaker tendencies, or empathetic personalities. I know, personally, I have a hard time telling people to change a conversation topic, or cancelling plans, or reaching out for help because I am afraid of the other person’s reaction.

Needless to say, I have a hard time with boundaries. Either I am too distant from others and won’t let anyone into my struggles, or I force myself to adopt a caretaker role holding everything for others and nothing for myself.  But, I also have an eating disorder so it makes sense why balance within relationships is a hard concept for me to grasp. My eating disorder exists in black and white thinking. Either everything is controlled or nothing is controlled. Either I starve or I binge. Either I run 10 miles or I sit on the couch. Either I am perfect or I avoid life all together. It makes sense then why relationship boundaries have also run parallel to my black and white pattern of thinking.

Once I became aware of my issue with constructing healthy boundaries, I needed to figure out how to begin creating them for myself. The issue was that I didn’t even know where to start. Allowing others to offload their struggles onto me without obtaining anything in return felt so natural, almost like a reflex at this point in my life.  I became an emotional punching bag and then I would beat myself up when I felt overwhelmed.  People who tend to take on caretaker roles while denying their own personal needs are called emotional doormats. Other examples of unhealthy roles in relationships would be enablers or people who try and protect others from any hurt they have experienced in life.  Then there are the pleasers or those who focus more attention on pleasing others than what they actually need.

Now, I already said I identify with the doormat, but if you struggle with unhealthy boundaries you may find you identify more strongly with the enabler or pleaser role. Figuring out where you fall with boundaries is just the first part of the puzzle. After realizing you may be someone who struggles with unhealthy boundaries, steps need to be taken towards more balance with others.  Since I had lived so long as a doormat, I had a lot of trouble coming up with what healthy boundaries even look like.  So, I went to therapy and allowed the guidance of a professional to point me in the right direction.  Here’s what I have come up with over the years.

My list of healthy boundaries:

  1. Speak my truth. If I know this person is safe and cares about me, practice open and honest communication when they are doing something that hurts, triggers, or upsets me.
  2. Do not overextend myself. If someone invites me to a party, I don’t have to offer to bring four appetizers. If someone is struggling with recovery, I don’t have to become their only support. If someone is asking me to do something too overwhelming for my social anxiety, it is okay to tell them I need a break. All in all, this boundary gives me permission to say no when necessary for my emotional well being.
  3. Give myself permission to be supported. Because I struggle with becoming others emotional doormat, it is important I remind myself that in a healthy relationship I am allowed to also be helped and supported. It is not a one way street.
  4. Walk away. When a relationship isn’t working, when someone is consistently overstepping the boundaries I am setting, leave. This is the hardest one for me because I have so much trouble saying that someone else is in the wrong. I always feel like I have to become an emotional martyr at the expense of others needs. But if someone is detrimental for my recovery (constantly talking about food and exercise) or to my self-esteem (constantly putting me down) I have to leave or else I will risk another relapse.
  5. Respect mine as well as others boundaries. This is the ultimate form of emotional balance and one of the hardest things for me to manage. This requires a self-respecting backbone which I commonly lack. It requires me to speak my needs while someone else speaks there’s. I commonly just adopt other people’s boundaries. This boundary requires that I also hold true to my own boundaries.

The last step to solidifying these boundaries is putting them into practice. I have figured out my emotional doormat tendencies and defined what healthy boundaries need to be put in place in order for me not to fall into that role anymore.  Now, I have to take action.  This requires courage. Courage being the conquering of fear and not the absence of it.  I won’t say that I am perfect at this step in the process, but I certainly continue to try and that’s all anyone can really ask for.
After all, honest communication is one of the most courageous acts in a relationship.

Dear Gracie Bug

Written by: Gracie Mayer, Facebook Manager and Contributing Writer of Unpolished Journey

Dear Gracie Bug,

Did you know that you’re good enough? Did you know that you’re good?  Do you know that it wasn’t your fault? Do you know that life is full of bad things that happen to good people?  But

know that bad things happen to good people because good people have the power to change the world.  Good people take their struggles and use their experiences to connect and empower others through empathy and vulnerability.  Also know that everyone has goodness.  Every person that will hurt you is only doing the best that they can with what they have at the time.  

Do you know how much your parents and family love you? Do you know the lengths your loved ones will go to in the
name of love, for the sake of protecting you because you have a spirit worth protecting, because everyone’s spirit is inherently worthy of protection?  

Do not doubt your worth.  Do not doubt your strength.  Do not doubt your bravery.  Do not doubt your resilience–they will save your life.  You do not have to earn approval.  You do not need to earn love.  True love is given unconditionally and freely.  LIfe is not a performance and your worth is not dependent on the applause.  Life is an adventure and your fulfillment is dependent on being 100% true to yourself and all of the beautiful qualities that make you unique.  Everyone is unique and learning about everyone’s unique qualities and experiences is what makes life so rich.  

Tell your family you love them more.  Be present in every moment with your friends.  Don’t worry about missing out–when you miss out on something it is because the universe has something better, something different, something you need.  

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you plan.  Don’t make plans.  Just Dream.  Dream and don’t be reasonable, be outlandish.  Don’t dream safe, dream brave.  Don’t have faith conservatively, hold hope radically.

Embrace the road less traveled.  Be grateful for your hardships and your struggles–they will lead you to people and places who will change your heart and forever be in your soul.  Take your time.  There is no deadline to reach certain goals in life even though society will try to tell you that there is a finite amount of time to reach your goals.

You will fall in love, but don’t rush it.  Magic will strike you when you least expect it so be content with each stage that you are in.  Be grateful for the love you will experience everyday, but do not possess it.  Love with an open palm, send out affection without boundaries.

Your smile lights up a room but you do not always have to smile.  It’s ok to not be ok, and it’s ok to be sad.  You can show your emotions, and your friends won’t leave, in fact they will love you more for sharing your humanity.


Stay messy, a clean room is not the sign of a life well lived.  Keep singing and dancing–your
expression will make life more joyful.  Stay joyful.  Keep your joy for life.  You are the joy of life.

 

Dear little em

Created by: Emily Blair, Director of Operations at Unpolished Journey

This video was made in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness week.  It is a reminder that we need to speak to ourselves with kindness, contradicting the harsh critic eating disorders cultivate.  Speak to yourself as you would your younger self this day and everyday.