Do you overstep your limits?

Perhaps the question to ask first is this: do you know what and where your limits are?

This is something that has taken me a while to learn – and honestly, I’m still learning. I’m not sure that we can ever get this piece ‘right’ because knowing what and where your limits are shifts as things in your life shift.

Respecting your limits requires awareness, attention and adjustment.

What sorts of limits am I talking about?

  • the hours you work (for payment, in the home, voluntarily)
  • what you give to others (time, money, support)
  • your acceptance of other people’s irrational, reactionary or judgemental attitudes and/or behaviour
  • your physical and emotional energy

Limits can expand or contract

Your limits can expand – for example if you get a raise, a bonus or come into some money, your limit for giving money might expand. If you’re on holiday, your limit for other people’s ‘stuff’ may expand, because you are more relaxed, and away from other things that draw on that resource.

Your limits can contract too, in order to make room for your shifting priorities and new things occurring in your life. If you’ve just had a baby your limits for other people’s sh*t will change while you’re getting less sleep. If you’ve just started a new job, the limits on your physical and emotional energy will shift as you adjust to new routines, new people, new office politics and new expectations. If your partner goes off on a trip and isn’t there to help with the domestic things, your limits will again change.

It’s part of life to adjust our limits to this ebb and flow of life.

Do you recognise yourself as… (or do others say you are…)

  • A Peacemaker
  • A Doer – the reliable one, the one who gets things done, the one who consistently volunteers
  • A Giver – always with a listening ear for anyone who asks for it
  • Superwoman/ Superman – wearing many hats, spinning many plates simultaneously

If you do, it’s likely that overstepping your limits is something you’ve been doing for years – because you’ve become known for it!

Limits and emotional overeating

If you struggle with emotional eating, it’s highly likely that you are consistently overstepping limits. You can use your urge to eat when you’re not hungry to become curious about which limits are being breached.

Ask yourself, before you eat (when you’re not hungry, of course) if you haven’t recognised a limit that has been overridden:

  • Are you tired?
  • Are others asking/expecting more of you than you want to give right now?
  • Are you expecting more of you, than you have energy for at this time?
  • Do you have the perception that others are expecting something of you, even if they haven’t directly asked?
  • Has someone crossed an emotional boundary (e.g. criticised you unfairly, shamed you, intentionally made hurtful remarks)?
  • When was the last time you had fun/ real pleasure (that wasn’t food related)?

You can also ask yourself these questions after you’ve emotionally overeaten – sometimes it’s hard to catch in advance. Doing this will help you reduce your emotional eating.

How to reclaim your space

Firstly, recognise that you have allowed your limits to be overridden.
Secondly, identify which limits those are.
Then you can go from there – decide on something small you will do to reclaim your space.

  • Will it be to cancel an engagement that you’ve made out of obligation?
  • Will it be to sleep in, or to have a nap in the afternoon?
  • Will it be to tell that person (in a calm way) that you will no longer tolerate his/her interference, criticism etc., and let him/her know the consequences if the behaviour is repeated?
  • Will it be to enrol others into helping with the domestic tasks?
  • Will it be to take a social media break?

What will it be? What resonates for you, and when you think about it, creates a feeling of space inside you?