Not everyone deserves to hear your story. Just because someone asks you something about yourself doesn’t mean you need to tell them.
I have loved the work of Brene Brown in regards to vulnerability within the context of boundaries. I think this is really helpful because we all are faced with the task of setting boundaries. I want to always see the good in people. While that is a great trait of mine, I have learned that I matter and I get to protect myself too. Having healthy boundaries helps me stay safe. Yet there is a balance where I need to find my safe spaces and where I can just be me. These questions help me figure out what this will look like in my life:
Who has earned the right to hear your story?
Who are the people whose opinions matter most to you?
Who will hold space for what you have to say?
Who has spent time really listening to you and validating you?
Who is willing to hear what your needs are?
Who is willing to take the time to understand your point of view? (This means more when they don’t agree with you).
Decide who you can trust and set healthy boundaries using that information.
From the book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown gives this assessment that I find very useful and have used as homework assignments for clients:
Write down the names of the people who have earned the right to hear your story—the people whose opinions matter most to you. These are people that love you for your strengths and struggles.
And then keep this small paper with you when you need it.
It reminds me of who helps me set healthy boundaries and helps me have the courage to do scary things. Even if I fail, these people will still be there for me.
What helps you find healthy boundaries?
Jennifer White, CSW has extensive experience in helping clients with faith transitions, sexuality concerns, anger management, substance use disorders, domestic violence, and self-esteem. She has also taught psychology and social work classes as adjunct faculty at Utah Valley University.