Knowing when to set boundaries and how to set them is what the attendees learned at the Reclaim Your Space workshop on Wednesday, Apr. 25.
“Professor Smith brought her whole class which was nice. So with her class and then we had maybe nine or 10 additional people also, it was a pretty good turnout,” said co-facilitator and ethnic studies professor Dr. Amber Gonzalez.
Since there was a fair amount of people at the workshop, they were split into two groups.
One group talked about how they set boundaries in their personal relationships with family, friends and their intimate partners while the other group talked about how to set boundaries in their professional life with their professors, boss, coworkers and classmates.
“My group had a really good conversation. I think for some people it was about recognizing ‘how do I set boundaries, how did I have difficulty when I was younger and what have I learned,’” said Gonzalez.
The groups discussed how to negotiate a boundary, how to say no, how to speak up and how to advocate for oneself. Within their group, people shared their stories and strategies they used for setting boundaries.
After the discussion, co-facilitator Esmeralda Flores shared her personal story and how people do not get to talk about boundaries.
She mentioned a child who was at the workshop and said, “Honestly, I think he probably has a better sense of boundaries than we do. What do they teach us in kindergarten? Friends don’t hurt each other. You give your friend your space. We don’t touch each other unless we ask, and somewhere along the line as we grow up those things get blurred.”
Gonzalez and Flores mentioned how setting boundaries is an ongoing process.
“We are continuously learning how to negotiate boundaries with different people and a part of negotiating boundaries is letting people in,” said Gonzalez.
She explained how setting boundaries to keep people out can also be a problem and how people who do that then need to negotiate when to let people in and when to maintain distance and space.
Gonzalez then shared how in her twenties she was like a brick wall and did not let anyone through because she could not and did not know how to handle letting people in.
When it comes to boundary setting within a family, people usually feel guilty because there was a point where they had to say ‘no’ to a family member.
“We don’t always have to feel guilty when we’re taking care of ourselves,” added Gonzalez.
Flores even said she stopped talking to certain family members because they had violated her boundaries after she realized that interacting with them was not good for her.
“I’ve learned to start some conversations with ‘I need to vent to someone’ vs ‘I need advice’ because I think that’s also a boundary,” said Flores.
She explained how there are some people that automatically think they are being vented to because they need advice when in reality all the other person just wants is to let everything out so they can move on with their day.
With that came the awareness of being considerate of other people’s personal limits and respecting them.
“I know I’m so much better off than I was last year because I learned to be my own advocate, by saying ‘I’m really sorry I can’t, I have a project, I have to study, I have to do this,'” said Flores.
She shared how bullet-journaling and collecting quotes that inspire her, help her to feel better and she encouraged people to figure out what it is that can help them feel better, whether it’s talking to a friend or attending workshops like these.
Gonzalez then added,”If you’re having issues with setting boundaries with somebody think about who are your allies and advocates in other areas that can help you work it out and practice setting those boundaries.”
The workshop concluded with everyone reading a relevant quote out loud.