self care

From our Director

BOUNDARIES ARE BEAUTIFUL

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Your highest Self Care priority should be learning how to set clear and healthy boundaries that will allow you to live in alignment with the truth of who you are, and the way you want your life to generally unfold. Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships, a healthy body and an overall healthy existence. They can protect you from toxic people, maintain your energy levels, keep you safe and strong, and help you manage your feelings. Boundaries are truly beautiful, and good ones are the cornerstone of your wellbeing.


What are boundaries?

Boundaries are the energetic and physical space between you and another person. They are the line of where you end and another begins, and where you begin and another ends. Boundaries are also the parameters we set for ourselves within relationships. They can include physical, intellectual, emotional, material, energetic and time boundaries. 

A person with healthy boundaries will have no trouble saying “no” when they want to, but also feel comfortable opening up to close relationships and intimacy. A person who always keeps others at a distance (whether emotionally, physically, or otherwise) is said to have rigid boundaries. Alternatively, someone who tends to get too involved with others has porous boundaries

Healthy boundaries are balanced, and are defined by respecting your own opinions, staying true to your values, knowing and communicating your personal needs, sharing information in an appropriate way (not undersharing or oversharing), an ability to say “no”, and also accept “no” from others. Most people have a mix of different boundary types: for example, someone could have healthy boundaries at work, porous boundaries in intimate relationships, and a mix of all three types within their family unit. 


Why boundaries?

Boundaries are the way we take care of ourselves. Boundaries define a healthy emotional and physical relationship between you and another so that you do not become overly enmeshed, smothered, attached, detached, or feel pressure to be something you are not, as well as maintain your personal identity and uniqueness. At the same time, they protect your right as an autonomous and free individual who has freedom to be a creative, original thinker and live life on your terms.

Healthy boundaries create happy and harmonious working relationships. If you don’t set boundaries, you are giving yourself away. By setting boundaries, we tell people in our lives who we are and what we need. We value ourselves and take a stand for what truly serves our highest good. We stop resenting or blaming others for doing things we don’t want to do, and step out of victim behaviour or toxic relationships that drain us.

People may feel boundaries are obstacles to connection, but healthy ones are the opposite. They enhance relationships and allow you to be, and to honour, who you really are. Boundaries allow you to show up in the world authentically, in your full truth and power. So give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.

The added power in living like this is in how it can inspire and give permission for others to do the same – a ripple effect of people taking a stand for their own self care through clear and healthy boundaries. Bliss.


Types of Boundaries

Having an awareness of what is appropriate to you in different situations is important. The main types of boundaries to consider are:

  • Physical Boundaries: Personal space (your body, your environment) and physical touch.

  • Emotional Boundaries: Yours and other’s feelings, and when and what to share.

  • Intellectual Boundaries: Thoughts and ideas — respect for others as well as your own. Discussion topics (eg politics, religion).

  • Material Boundaries: Money and possessions, including what you will share and with whom.

  • Time Boundaries: How you use your time for work, hobbies, self care, relationships. Who you will share with and how much.

  • Energetic Boundaries: Your psyche and spirit, or spiritual borders. When, how, and with whom we share our energy.

How to create Healthy Boundaries

Most of us don’t know how to set boundaries. We’ve been taught to put others ahead of ourselves, or grew up in households that didn’t teach healthy boundaries. When we move past ingrained habits or fears, we can act from a clean, clear space, so we can enjoy what we want, rather than always reacting or responding to someone else. This can be scary or feel foreign at first, but in time, learning to set boundaries will be the best thing you have ever done.

Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Although new and challenging, with intention and practice, you can learn effective boundary setting to enhance every part of your life


A 5 Step Exercise for Setting Effective Boundaries 

I invite you to follow this activity I created to more effectively establish healthy boundaries between yourself and others. 

    1. Taking several pieces of paper and pen, and identify the boundaries in your life that are rigid or porous that you can improve: Physical, Emotional, Energetic, Intellectual, Material, Time or all of the above. If you are happy with your boundaries in that area, good! Congratulate yourself. Write a heading for the other boundaries in the centre of each paper and draw a large circle around them, leaving some space to write outside the circle too.

    2. For each category, identify and question the irrational or unhealthy beliefs or thinking by which you allow your boundaries to be ignored or violated: eg. “I’m not good enough”, or “I must do everything I can to spend as much time together with my family/partner/business”. Write them in small writing outside of the big circles.

    3. Look at these beliefs: Are they true? Turnaround those beliefs: think of three real life examples you have where the opposite is true: eg “I am good enough because I have lots of friends who love me, I am good enough because I am a great parent, I am good enough because I have a heart that loves deeply” . Or “I’m allowed to take time for my own self care, my needs are important, my family/partner/business benefits when I pursue my own interests”. Write them inside the circle. Thank the old beliefs on the outside for their service to you, and lovingly retire them with a strikethrough.

    4. Identify new behaviours you need to add to your repertoire in order to sustain healthy boundaries between you and others eg: saying “no”, keeping information to yourself, respecting your body, not lending money, asking for more time. Write them at the top of each page as a commitment: “To protect my boundaries I will…”

    5. Hang your pages in a place where you will see them every day, or take photos of them to review each morning. Implement the new boundary building beliefs and behaviors in your life so that your space, privacy and rights are respected and you can live in your powerful truth.


Remember, it is not enough to just set boundaries, it is necessary to be willing to do what it takes to enforce them and honour them. Stay strong, don't give in. When you stand up for yourself, you teach others how to treat you. If people are unwilling to respect your boundaries, ask yourself if they are true friends or people you really want to spend time with. Setting personal boundaries and limits can be very important in how you lead your life and the quality of the relationships you have.

As you begin to set boundaries, remember that each time you set a healthy boundary, you say “yes” to self care and “yes” to more freedom. Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious, respect them and start a revolution.

— Victoria Lucille Fox, Founder, MISS FOX Melbourne

You can follow Victoria @victorialucillefox or join her online Self Care discussion here.


References and further reading:

TherapistAid.com

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2015/07/the-four-kinds-of-boundaries-how-to-build-them/

https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-way-to-build-and-preserve-better-boundaries/

https://www.yogiapproved.com/life-2/exercise-no-muscle-set-boundaries-stand/

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/great-self-care-setting-healthy-boundaries/

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-13719/how-to-set-boundaries-even-if-you-think-you-cant.html

http://yourzenlife.com/working-with-energy-7-creating-energetic-boundaries/

From our Director

SELF CARE: BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND BE KIND TO OTHERS

What is self care?

You will hear us talk a lot about self care at MISS FOX, but what exactly does this mean? To me:

Self care is a commitment to yourself — to nurture your mind, body and spirit.

It involves intentionally engaging in behaviours and practices that promote your own well being. Self care means putting yourself on the list of beings that you take care of, and putting yourself at the top of that list — not at the exclusion of care for others but ensuring that you get as much as the other people do in your world. Taking your own wellbeing into account as you evaluate choices is critical for many of us that tend to always put others first. Your wellbeing isn’t your only priority, but by practicing self care it is your top priority — and that’s important.

Self care is about taking full responsibility for your own care, and not expecting others to care for you. As adult human beings we have a responsibility to society that we will care for ourselves. Self care requires that we pay attention to ourselves, sensing our inner state and taking action where required to be healthy and happy.

It is important to note that self care has to do with the intention behind your activities — self care comes from a place of love: it’s about feeling good, healthy, and self-confident and honouring yourself. It’s for pleasing you, not anyone else.


Why is self care important

The golden reason for self care can be summed up with this mantra:

“I am my best me when I am taking care of myself”

Self care sets you up to succeed in life. People who engage in good self care are more productive, satisfied and happier. It helps reduce stress and anxiety and is key to a balanced and fulfilled existence, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. It helps cultivate a real, positive relationship with yourself, and because the relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for all other relationships —including people, career, money and the environment — your self care becomes a foundation for a deeper, authentic connection with the world.

Self care is your responsibility — not someone else’s. We all have an individual responsibility to grow and be responsible for ourselves. When you effectively take care of yourself it allows acting authentically with other people, and removes any need to manipulate others to take care of you. Putting your needs and priorities first also allows us to put forth our best efforts in life. By having strong boundaries and saying no, you can show up in in the world from a place of inner alignment and truth — and when you feel good, you do good.

It is important not to label self care as selfish. Self care has far reaching benefits for you and everyone in your life. When we are nourished, then we are better able to help others from a stronger foundation. It allows you to make a contribution to others from a place of health, wellbeing and abundance. We have a responsibility to help others grow in their lives too, and helping others starts with helping yourself.

SELF CARE

What if I don’t take care of myself?

If you don’t practice taking care of yourself, you can fall into victim behaviour: someone unwilling to take responsibility for your self and actions, and bringing down those around you with a “poor-me” attitude.

This disempowered state sees one blames others as the reason for their unhappiness, and position themselves as someone who needs “rescuing”. Whilst this may be attractive to some, the pity-party is generally a drain on colleagues, friends and family and the world as a whole.

Not taking care of yourself can lead to feelings of resentment, as constantly placing others before you slowly starts to build anger and bitterness. It is important to remember that putting yourself second (or last) on an ongoing basis is your choice, so meditate carefully on who you should really be angry at, and consider learning from it and letting it go — both the resentment and the behaviours that led to it.

Getting unwell on a regular basis or being constantly run down is a sure sign that your self care commitment needs to be improved. If you are unhealthy and unstable, you are not only robbing yourself of the best life has to offer, you are also unable to take care of others. Self care is an investment in the wellbeing of all.


What self care isn’t:

Self care is not the same as selfishness. Selfishness or self-serving behaviour is lacking any consideration about others and profiting by this. Self care is about making sure that we are well and healthy so that we are actually more available to help others — replenishing your resources without depleting someone else’s. A selfish action is motivated by “me-first, me-only”, whereas self care has the message “me-first, me-too”.

Self care isn’t about self indulgence or to be seen as a luxury. Whilst it can include pampering, it is about surviving and thriving. Sustainable, small and frequent self care functions are also certainly more valuable than occasional decadence. Like any relationship, someone showing kindness every day means more than one grand gesture a year, so apply that same principle to your self.

Self care isn’t about activities that are a chore. They should fill you up, not be a burden. It is important that you find the type of self care that works for you — yoga, drawing, running or bubble baths might be lovely, but if it doesn’t feel good to you, it isn’t your truth. Self care isn’t guilty pleasures either… cakes, holidays, shoes or reckless behaviour can be enjoyable and bring some temporary relief, but real self care activities contribute to your long term health and wellbeing.

Self care doesn’t come from practices or activities to impress or please others — it’s about meeting your own needs, not society’s. But it also isn’t an excuse to break commitments or be lazy or irresponsible. Self care is about honouring your authentic needs, not your ego.

Self care isn’t about caring for everyone else and leaving yourself out, and neither is it making yourself your only priority. Self care essentially means that there are two truths sharing the same place — be kind to yourself and be kind to others.

—Victoria Lucille Fox @victorialucillefox

From our Director

THE POWER OF SELF CARE

Ancient texts and modern philosophers speak of our universe as a totality — an organic whole.

The parts are not separate, we are all existing in a togetherness: the trees, the mountains, the people, the birds, the stars, howsoever far away they may appear - don't be deceived by the appearance - they are all interlinked, all bridged. Even the smallest blade of grass is connected to the farthest star, and it is as significant as the greatest sun. Nothing is insignificant, nothing is smaller than anything else. The part represents the whole, just as the seed contains the whole” (Osho, Philosophia Ultima).

Today, this holistic vision is not one commonly embraced or understood, and I believe it is why self care is often so mistaken, and under-appreciated.

As a busy corporate 10 years ago, I was juggling multiple and competing priorities, none of which were ever my own self care. Self preservation, possibly, but self care wasn’t part of the narrative when I had deadlines to meet, travel schedules to manage and targets to achieve. In many cases, even leaving my desk for lunch felt "wrong". Taking work home was standard and I got great at multitasking — which really means doing a lot of things not well. “Me-time” looked like takeaway food, and Friday drinks were the only de-stress after a hectic week of corporate life. There were the occasional health kicks or gym spurts, but these were usually fuelled by fear related to a special event where I needed to “impress”. I couldn’t see the return on investment on self care, yet I was barely surviving, and certainly not thriving. 

Fast forward to today: I see self care as so critically important, because I have learned that everything starts with — you. Your entire life starts with you, and within you, and revolves around you. This isn’t a self-absorbed view, because the reality is that if you cease to exist, your world ceases to exist. You are the centre of your own universe. And in appreciation of the “interconnectedness” of all things, it is the relationship you have with yourself that sets the tone for every relationship you have: that is, the part represents the whole.

Although it might seem as if this article is escalating quickly, I believe it is only possible to connect with life as deeply as you have connected with yourself. But how do you build a relationship with yourself? That’s where self care comes in. Self care is a platform for cultivating a connection with yourself. Think of self care as a date. It is a chance to have a conversation with yourself, to get to know yourself a little better, to vibe yourself out. It’s getting to know your body and form, and your inner essence. Whether it be over a picnic for one, or a pedicure, self care is an opportunity to dive between the inside and outside of who you are. Self care is the way you get to know yourself.

Here’s where things get more interesting: self care is related to the relationship you have with yourself, but then becomes an expression of your relationship to the world. Your relationship with the world shapes your reality. A positive, loving relationship with yourself can be reflected in an outward experience of life that is positive and loving — "so within, so without" — meaning that your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. It informs your entire experience. So you certainly want to get that inner relationship right.

Self care is how you take your power back. The practice of self care brings your attention back to your self, so you can analyse your feelings, pay attention to the sensations in the body, feel your breath, engage in self-examination and survey your situation and surroundings from a higher perspective. It helps you take back control of your thoughts, actions and behaviour. It helps you create new stories and new patterns. When you truly honour your needs through self care, you step into your authentic self. Through self care, we connect with out truth, our values and our identity. By connecting with our truth, we step into the driver's seat of our lives, we can start curating how we wish to feel, what we wish to show up in our lives, and what we wish to give our attention to.

Beauty is a byproduct of a healthy self care routine. When you start taking care of yourself, you start feeling better, looking better and you start attracting better into your reality. Beauty comes from being aligned with our authentic self. Through self care we connect with this inner wisdom, and we can channel our truth, our highest nature, the very best version of who we are. This is how we shine. This is also how we tune into a higher state of living. Your inner world sets the dial for what kind of reality you are tuned into. Have you experienced being in a state of flow, where things going on around you become easy and light — it’s as if everything is coming up roses, and nothing can bring you down. On the other hand, have you experienced “one of those days” that starts off crappy, and found yourself frustrated over crappy thing after crappy thing that kept showing up? Your personal frequency is like a radio station, and is — despite what we might wish to blame on others or external factors — completely selected by you. This “tuning in” is essentially set by the relationship you hold with yourself and the world. It tells the world what level you want to play and, it tells others how to treat you. It informs your entire experience. Are you starting to see why self care is so important?

Self care is a also divine responsibility for those around you: you must take good care of yourself if you wish to be of service to others. The better you care for yourself, the more you are able to be a light for those around you. The greatest gift that you can give those around you is the best, happiest and most authentic version of you. Self care isn’t selfish. If everyone was able to start with caring for themselves, and effecting their internal environment and external environment, this has a ripple effect on the people around them: their community, their city, their town their country. People will start benefiting from it, seeing it and being inspired by it the more you practice your own self care. Self care creates a distinct difference in you, and the people in your life will feel it. 

The result of your self care are your communication with the world. Through self care, I believe our planet can experience a huge positive shift. Life is better and more beautiful. And that all starts with you.

— Victoria Fox

THE POWER OF SELF CARE