Do you put your goals on hold because someone else has asked you to help them?
Do you stop working on something because someone shows up for an unexpected visit?
Do you forego your favorite foods, music, and TV shows because no one else in the household likes them?
Yeah, I’ve been bad about that, too. A lot of people talk about establishing boundaries, but what is that really? Boundaries are great, holding them is hard, and the small step that leads to having known boundaries is claiming your space.In the past I’ve done this, and done it often. I’ve literally lost touch with myself because I felt it was my responsibility to do for everyone else before doing anything for me. I’ve had people put me down for liking things they didn’t like – be it my love of anime, random music tastes, or even certain foods. It still stings to recall the day an ex of mine put me down for singing, which was a first as everyone else always enjoyed my singing.
I will lead into the rest of this with a caveat: I live alone. Claiming my space is easier than it has been when I had children at home or a partner who lived with me. I admit that. The concept and its importance don’t change though, and in fact are more important when you have other people you live with.
You deserve to enjoy the things that make you happy.
Was that message loud enough?
Look at your life. What things are you passing over because no one else around you likes them or approves of them? Did you stop listening to a favorite kind of music because no one else liked them? I did.
As “cringe” as it is, I love Celine Dion’s music. I always have. I stopped singing her songs and even listening to them because somehow she went from an amazing singer to someone people look down on. I don’t know how that happened, or why. It was probably someone making a remark about her music and they just happened to have enough influence to get others to follow their lead. I got teased about liking her until I stopped listening, despite knowing that there’s something in her music that sends my soul flying in ways few artists can.
My solution while living with others was to get noise canceling headphones and listen anyway.
Do you enjoy a certain food no one else likes and so you skip on having it unless you’re going out to eat somewhere it’s served?
Admittedly, when you’re running a household on a small budget, making a dish for just one person isn’t always easy, but maybe you can find a way to make that happen once every month or two? Most foods aren’t terribly expensive if you’re just making enough for one person. Do it. If someone starts to complain, invite them to find something else to do.
It doesn’t matter what it is, you deserve to have the things you enjoy in your life. You deserve to have what you need to thrive.
If you need a day alone, make it happen. Plan ahead and tell everyone you are taking that day and won’t be available. When the day comes, stand your ground. It might take a couple of tries before the people in your life figure out that you mean it, but they’ll get the idea in time. If they’re grumpy about it, so what?
No one is entitled to deny you the things you need to take care of yourself.
And if they think they are, you can give them a gentle, caring reminder that you are taking care of yourself and add that you know they’ll support you because they care and want the best for you.
Start small. Get some headphones and listen to that song. Watch the show you want to watch. Most of us have cell phones capable of playing streaming content now, or tablets, so just duck away and do it. With a bit of practice, you’ll find yourself more able and willing to claim your space without apology. The people around you will learn to respect that space, and you.
Now, go claim your space! I give you permission to be you, fully, without apology, and with every ounce of joy it brings.