First and foremost, boundaries are about self-care.
They’re about ownership of yourself and what’s right and wrong for you. They’re about clarity around your needs.
Boundaries are about standards and tolerance.
Boundaries stop you and other people becoming victims.
Boundaries stop you saying ‘Yes’ when you really mean ‘No’ .
Boundaries tell people what you are about and what you value.
YOUR GARDEN FENCE
Imagine a fence around your garden. It’s an effective physical boundary that clearly marks ownership and it keeps you physically safe. It’s clear to everyone where the boundary of the garden is.
The same idea of a boundary is required to keep you emotionally safe and well.
If you’re not clear on your boundaries how do you expect others to be?
If you don’t set boundaries in all areas of your life – how will people know what’s truly important to you?
ENFORCING YOUR BOUNDARIES IS NOT MEAN OR SELFISH
Enforcing your boundaries is not de-prioritising others – it’s protecting yourself and it’s choosing you, because until you choose you, others will not choose you. It’s about putting on your own oxygen mask first.
When you love and respect yourself enough to have boundaries you’ll see your relationships improve, because if you don’t love yourself, you’ll likely find it hard to accept and love others.
LIKE V RESPECT
Part of managing your boundaries is saying NO. Saying No to fixing other peoples problems. Let’s be clear – you’re not saying you’re not going to help or support them. You’re making it clear that it’s their
problem and you respect them enough to not make them a victim by assuming they can’t solve their own problems.
People deserve the opportunity to grow and to see their own power. Don’t take over and fix their problems – this reinforces helplessness – they don’t deserve that. They deserve your support but not you doing it for them.
They might not always like you in the moment but they will respect you later and more importantly, they will learn self-respect and self-reliance. Get ok with this – its the right thing.
BOUNDARIES V BARRIERS
Boundaries are not just about saying no. You can have a fence around your garden but no gate to let in the good stuff.
You need a gate, to allow some flexibility for others’ foibles and the fact that we’re not clones. The gate allows people in when you need help. The gate stops a boundary becoming a barrier.
Don’t have your fence so high that you can’t see or hear people on the other side. If people can’t get close to you there will be no meaningful relationships.
Remember, the garden fence is also the boundary for next door. You need to consider other people’s boundaries, not just your own. Setting your boundaries and defending these is good, but don’t attack someone else’s to defend your own. It’s not effective. It might seem productive, but won’t win you friends or help you expand your views. If there’s no one at the gate when you need help you won’t feel loved and supported.
If you’ve expressed your boundaries clearly, someone else expecting you to comply with something which does not respect your boundaries is unreasonable. The issue isn’t with your boundary but with respect. If people cannot accept your boundaries without it damaging the relationship, then it is not a mutually beneficial relationship. You deserve mutually beneficial relationships.
If the relationship is not mutually beneficial, it’s not healthy. Being 100% complaint and not saying or doing what is right for you is not healthy and will not lead to meaningful relationships. If you don’t get equal opportunities to talk, it’s not healthy. If you don’t get listened to, it’s not healthy. If you always feel compelled to deviate from your own truth, or worse yet coerced, it’s not healthy. Check your boundaries.
Beware the feeling that you’re ‘needed’ – the wonderful feeling that only you can save the day.
Check that you’re not being manipulated to open your boundary gate.
THE HEDGE V THE WALL
It can be frustrating, for example, if your partner leaves their cup on the side rather than putting it in the dishwasher. You might want to put a hedge round the issue and have a conversation about it. A cup on the side isn’t a reason to build a wall and end your relationship.
Look for consistent violations, ask yourself if it really matters and ask if you’re perfect before you decide what boundaries to set.
REACTING V RESPONDING
The emotionally mature person considers first, then responds. She knows it leads to a dialogue, not an argument. She knows conflicts get resolved through dialogue. An emotionally immature person reacts, blows everything out of proportion and then tramples over others’ boundaries and creates a battle.
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling a boundary has been breached if someone’s opinion doesn’t match your own. Opinions are just that – opinions. Opinions are not facts.
Don’t sacrifice your personal relationships to be seen as reliable and professional at work. Set boundaries consistently – this is how you show authenticity.
Remember, by virtue, if you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re also saying ‘no’ to something else.
Inference is a boundary. If you infer meaning, intent or beliefs when you confer, it’s likely you’re going to overstep a hidden boundary. Constant oversteps lead to resentment. Resentment leads to high walls. You should say how you think, feel and what you would like to happen. Separate behaviours from Identity. ‘You did’, rather than ‘you are’.
FINDING THE EDGE
When you start to feel resentment, you know that there is work to be done on the boundary.
When you feel like you’re not being authentically you, there is work to be done on the boundary
When you feel a value conflict, there is work to be done on the boundary.
When life feels overwhelming, there is work to be done on the boundary.