Self-Care Challenge (Day 184): Setting Boundaries

barbed wire fence with the coast of maui in the background

On day 184 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored setting boundaries as an act of self-care.

This post relates to one of the more difficult topics I’ve written about to date–mostly because it has taken me some effort to find the silver lining.

I do my best to not focus on the not-so-great things that happen in my life–not because I’m oblivious to them, but because it doesn’t serve me to dwell on negative life experiences.

Focusing on life’s adverse moments, sometimes referred to as ruminating, not only prolongs our bad moods, but it can also have a negative impact on our physical heath.

But when we deal with negative experiences in a healthy way, we can move through them more quickly. For me, that process included assessing the problem, identifying possible actions that either solve the problem or prevent the problem from recurring in the future, reflecting on my lessons learned, and letting go.

Okay, here’s the scenario: Recently, I hired a professional firm to help me with a business-related project.

El problemo?

The final bill was nearly twice what I was expecting. (To say that I was shocked is an understatement.)

But before I continue, it’s important to point out that I’m taking complete ownership of this experience. Had I been clearer about my expectations at the outset of the project, ensuring that those expectations were formally outlined in a contract in black and white, this situation could have been avoided altogether.

Instead, I learned the value of setting boundaries–the hard way.

This experience helped me realize that I need to be more diligent about minimizing ambiguity – asking more questions, conducting more research, reading the fine details more carefully. (In hindsight, a “not to exceed” line item in the contract would have made all the difference.)

But despite the sticker shock, the overall experience was quite good (here’s where the silver lining comes in). I would say there were at least three positive takeaways:

  1. I must admit that I was pleased with the outcome of the project. The firm delivered what they said they would. They delivered it on time. And the final product was solid.
  2. The experience allowed me an opportunity to express myself in a kind, constructive way. To be clear, this kind of honest expression isn’t always an easy thing to do. In fact, it was uncomfortable. But it was important to me that I conveyed my concerns, especially since it’s unlikely that I will ever use them again in the future.
  3. It taught me the importance of setting boundaries.

The truth is, life lessons can be messy, and while none of us really want to learn the hard way, the intensity of those lessons are usually strong enough to last a lifetime.

What life lessons have you learned about setting boundaries?

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