Do you agree to do something you really don’t want to do?
Do you allow people to treat you badly over and over again?
Do you often feel powerless, betrayed or taken advantage of?
WHAT ON EARTH IS A BOUNDARY!?
Boundaries are invisible, symbolic fences that make us good neighbours, partners, friends, and parents by protecting our emotions, heart and soul. Unfortunately, a common response is to build walls instead of boundaries. The ‘wall building’ pattern you learnt may have started long ago in an endeavour to protect yourself from legitimate harmful behaviour, yet still today in a different environment, different circumstances and with different people the walls go up keeping you chained to yesterdays’ pain – imprisoned, isolated and fearful, rather than free.
As a young lady, I was not great at establishing boundaries. I wanted my relationships to be peaceful, relaxed and ideally happy. Of course, this is not possible, yet I went to all extremes to make it happen!
I was a great people pleaser, I allowed people to treat me badly without standing up to them and I avoided conflict like the plague!
It wasn’t until I reached a point in my life where my suppressed emotions couldn’t take anymore that I began to look at what I was doing to myself for the sake of so-called ‘peace’. It was costing me physically, emotionally and relationally.
What I began to understand at that time was that boundaries actually increased clarity, communication and ultimately the intimacy I desired with the people I cared about the most.
Learning to be assertive as you put boundaries in place can be a challenge if it’s a foreign concept to you, but as you develop a greater awareness of your feelings, it will cause you to never neglect, swallow, stuff or betray those emotions again.
Let’s practice setting some boundaries:
To set a boundary with an angry person:
“It’s not ok to yell at me. If you continue, I’ll have to leave the room.”
To say no to extra commitments:
“Although this event is important to me, I won’t be able to help because I need to honor my family commitments.”
To set a boundary with an adult child who borrows money:
“I won’t be lending you money anymore. I love you but you need to take responsibility for yourself.”
To buy yourself time when making tough decisions:
“I’ll have to sleep on it, my policy is to not make decisions straight away.”
As we begin to develop healthy boundaries in our lives they will most certainly be challenged, so just remember – a boundary that can’t be defended is not really a boundary, it’s just a really good idea.
Take the opportunity to look at your beliefs and values and then set some boundaries around your life to ensure that you and others are kept safe. Start with one per week and get support from a trusted friend who can encourage you on your journey.
I know you’ll be great at this! – fiona