What are boundaries?
Boundaries are needed in every relationship. A boundary is a imaginary line that seperates me from you. Boundaries seperate your physical space, needs, feelings and responsibilities from others. Your boundaries tell people how they can treat you. Boundaries say what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. If you do not set boundaries with people, they may take advantage of you because you have not set limits about how you expect to be treated.
A boundary illustration
Think of a boundary like a property line. In the last home we owned, right after we moved in, I had noticed the neighbor cutting our grass on our property line. Like 15 foot over the property line. I thought it was odd, but did not say anything the first couple of times it happened. After the third time, we asked him to stop. He said he had always cut our grass on that side. We kindly let him know that we would be cutting our own grass. The previous homeowner never cut the grass, so the neighbor always cut that side. I would like to think that, with us being the new homeowners, he would give us the opportunity to see if we wanted to cut our own grass. He did not, so we needed to establish a boundary with him. Point being is that if you do not speak up and say that a boundary is being crossed, it gives the impression that your ok with it.
When a boundary is crossed, you need to give feedback saying if it is ok or not. The boundary is worthless if you don’t enforce it by giving feedback and consequences. Now, some people will accept the boundary and some will continue to challenge it and even escalate it. The specific consequences depend on the relationship and the history of the relationship, as well.
Do you know how to create healthy boundaries?
Does creating boundaries make you feel guilty? Have you wanted to create boundaries in relationships but just do not know how or are you afraid of feeling guilty for creating boundaries?
Toxic relationships are really common. Heavy cultural conditioning makes it painful to speak about those types of relationships. A lot of times, the person sharing their experience is often being judged or viewed as crazy or wrong because its a family member or parent. People may think you are overly imagining things or that it couldn’t possibly be that bad. You may even feel pressure to maintain the relationship on the other person’s terms and afriad to set boundaries. The truth is that the pressured feeling, from not wanting to create a boundary, comes from a desire to receive the love you wanted, but never received. Without boundaries, people will walk all over you.
Why do we need boundaries?
Boundaries create a entity that allows you to make your own decisions and have your own feelings. It also allows you to know and ask for what you want without the need to please other people.
Boundaries are a form of self care and healthy boundaries mean that you value your own feelings/needs. Boundaries also mean that you are not responsible for how others feel or behave. Boundaries can also allow you to let go of worrying and create a sense of peace with placing accountability with that particular person. Boundaries mean that saying no to things that are not your priority.
Boundaries will create a realistic expectation to your friends, your spouse, boss or family member to know what is expected. Clearly communicating boundaries will let people know how they are expected to behave. When expectations are not communicated and met, resentment and anger flourish.
Boundaries create a safety by providing physical and emotional safety by keeping what feels hurtful or uncomfortable.
What prevents us from setting boundaries?
Fear keeps us from setting boundaries. What are you scared of? Are you afraid of dissapointing someone by creating a boundary? What will happen if you do not set a boundary? ASK yourself those questions to see why your stuck. If you grew up in a family without boundaries, you probably did not have anyone to teach you about boundaries or anyone to model healthy boundaries. Setting boundaries is definitely a skill that is learned. Some people do not want to create boundries because they do not want to dissapoint others or they will just avoid conflict at all costs.
Bottom line of boundaries
The truth is that setting boundaries can disrupt relationships.. You will probably even get some resistance but sometimes it is not as bad as you have imagined. Boundary setting takes time and becomes easier with practice. It will also take time for others to adjust to your boundaries.