In a world which is becoming increasingly fragmented and pressured, it is very important to remember that YOU have the right to live your own life and make your own choices! Ill health and depression may come about if we ignore our needs and compromise our true personalities and unique spirits.
You are beautiful, just as you are, and I hope this article helps you to embrace your truth with more courage and confidence and build stronger, happier, and healthier relationships as a result.
1. What are Boundaries?
We hear a lot about the importance of boundaries but what they actually consist of is different for each person. What we regard as our boundaries has to depend upon our characters and our needs. Some people may need more space, and others lots of interaction and activity.
In order to understand our boundaries, we need to look at what impinges upon our mental health and what supports it.
If somebody crosses your personal boundaries, they are, in effect causing you some kind of imbalance or emotional turmoil. This is not necessarily intentional on the other person’s part of course. It is up to us to state what our needs are and indicate when we feel that we are in a vulnerable or unstable position. Only we can accurately communicate and explain when our needs and/or values are being compromised.
2. How Do We Create Boundaries?
To fully establish boundaries, we need to ascertain what really matters to us. Consider your beliefs and whether you like to discuss and share these, or perhaps you are the type of person that likes to keep these private and precious.
How about your friendships? Are you the kind of person who wants to spend many hours of every week socializing, or do you find that you are tired if you spend a lot of time with certain people? Of course, this could mean that there are people in your life who have a draining effect upon you overall, or simply that you have to limit the amount of time you are with others because you incline towards introversion.
In your close personal relationship, are there subjects that you find taboo, or behaviors that are definitely not acceptable?
For some, timekeeping may not be very important, for others having somebody turn up distinctly late may come across as a great insult to you personally. Or, perhaps there are communication styles that you are not comfortable with; some find moaning and excessive negativity very difficult to be around and others don’t feel like loudness or overly gregarious natures.
Whatever works and doesn’t work for you is perfectly okay. You don’t need to judge or think badly of another person to recognize that sometimes their company is not healthy for your overall energy.
We all have the right to choose who we spend time with, and we don’t have to explain this to anybody, our time is precious and valuable.
Learning to put our own feelings and needs high in our priorities is very good for mental and emotional well-being.
3. Observing What Doesn’t Work for Us
It can take a while to understand what we find difficult in our surroundings. It may be that we have that one member of the family we struggle with, and we don’t understand why we feel uneasy around them. Perhaps that we don’t feel we can express ourselves around them without creating conflict, or that we find it difficult to make conversation and so are awkward in their company. It could be that they criticize us in some way or are very brash about their own achievements.
Of course, none of this means that there is anything wrong with this person, just that our feelings in this kind of a situation are what we should look into, in order to understand what we need to do, to feel safer and more comfortable.
Not all of the feelings above are boundary breaches, with some people we are simply not as compatible as we’d like to be.
It is always beneficial to observe our own triggers, and irrational responses, as these, are often indicators of our own personal wounds.
For example, needing to make conversation to avoid silence is an indication that we are not comfortable with our inner world. Perhaps our thoughts are very negative, or our self-esteem is low. By observing this we have a clear idea of what we need to work on to be strong and happier.
Usually, when somebody has crossed our boundaries, we think they are more powerful than us in some way, or we are overly keen to win their approval.
4. How Do We Know if Somebody Has Crossed our Boundaries?
One of the obvious signs of somebody breaching our boundaries is feeling a little anxious and out of control. If somebody is trying to coerce us into something we have already said “no” to, then this is a very clear indication that they do not fully respect our personal choices (and boundaries).
Often, it’s a lot more subtle, we’ll be encouraged to do something that we’re not all that comfortable with and offered reassurance that we will ‘love it’ or that it will be ‘good for us’. Now the latter can be true, so in this instance, it’s important to recognize whether the others person’s intention is loving, or divisive. Consider their motives and whether they will benefit from our change in direction as a way to clearly assess the reason behind their emphasis.
A major and recently culturally acknowledged boundary breach is gaslighting; which happens when we try to say that we don’t like something, or express a need or opinion and the other person manages to convince us that we are not only wrong, but we are also flawed for thinking/believing such.
This basically translates as “you do not get to have a say in what happens to/around you”. If you ever feel that you are changing your morals, your personality, or questioning your sanity and logic then this is an extreme case of your boundaries being crossed and you may be wise to seek professional support.
Remember; you don’t need to justify or explain why you wish to do, or not do something. It is your life and only you get to choose what’s right for you.
5. How Can We Tell if We Have Crossed Another’s Boundaries?
The kinds of people who struggle with boundaries are often those who dislike conflict and upset others. So, unless we are self-aware, if may be that it is we ourselves who are steamrollering the more timid people in our lives and forcing them to adhere to our own agendas.
Consider your communication style. Do you truly listen to others and allow them to fully express themselves, or are you the type to talk over them, or even assume what they are thinking or feeling? Do you ever speak for your partner when they are standing next to you as if they cannot represent their own thoughts?
If you want to see somebody, do you ever try to persuade them to do something, or be somewhere, even after they have tried to say ‘no’?
If you’re the kind of person who prides yourself on persuading others to change their minds, then know that you are breaching their personal boundaries, and likely causing them to feel anxious and uncomfortable in your presence.
You may notice that there are people who start to be less and less available to you in your life. If so, reflect. It could be that they do not feel they are safe to express who they really are around you. Of course, there are many other reasons this may happen, but observing how we talk to and interact with people is always useful and will greatly improve our relationship.
We all have the potential to be overbearing and it is important to ensure we fully respect others’ needs, differences, and quirks, whatever they may be.
6. Asserting Boundaries in Friendships
This can be tricky, as habitual behavior patterns often start to set in when we have known people for a long time. In some cases, long-term friends have little left in common at all, and simply continue to stay in contact because they don’t know how to extricate themselves.
Again, I reiterate, it is your life and you do get to have a choice how you live it. Some may think this sounds selfish, but that’s only because we’ve been conditioned to follow set rules and patterns of etiquette that, in many cases are far removed from logic or our personal reality.
I would always recommend that we look out for everybody we have known for a long time and continue to be supportive. In these times of flux, mental health issues are soaring, and people’s mental states should always be taken into account. However, we need to also and primarily take into account our own needs and health.
Perhaps we do have people in our lives around whom we no longer thrive, maybe there are people we see because we feel obliged to, but that make us feel uncomfortable or tired.
On the contrary, you may have friends you dearly love; you simply find it difficult to express yourself. Often those who suffer from guilt and worry are the same people who others take advantage of, and usually unknowingly.
This is simply because more vulnerable people also struggle to express their needs, emotional pains and draw up their boundaries, hence those close to them do not realize that they are impinging or creating hidden stress points.
Sometimes very confident people fear conflict and letting others down, even more than those who appear timid. Never assume that somebody is okay, just because they haven’t as yet, shared their inner world with you.
If you are one of these people who feels you have to prove yourself and yield to others because you feel unworthy or anxious in some way, then know that this isn’t uncommon.
Obviously, you cannot learn to assert yourself just by acknowledging you need to. I will write another article about how to be assertive, and if you would like someone on one coaching, then I can do this with you more succinctly by consulting your astrological chart (please contact me for a reading)
7. Boundaries in Love Relationships
This is a topic I speak about with my clients regularly. Sometimes it will be somebody who wants to get back with an ex-partner, despite this ex having been unfaithful to them. Or it could be that they are having a regular fling with somebody but want to change that into a fully committed relationship.
I cannot stress enough, the importance of writing down a list of your ‘deal breakers’ in relationships and ensuring that you never compromise on these.
Deal breakers are different for everybody, and they are the building blocks of our relationship boundaries. Unless we are clear about who we are and what we need in order to feel happy and respected in a close personal relationship, how could a partner ever know or figure this out?
If being late is a deal-breaker for you, then tell your date, give them a heads-up and let them know it matters.
If you want to be wooed and fall in love slowly, then don’t get intimate on your first date! If you are keen to ensure your partner is fully present from the start of the relationship, then don’t go on a second date with somebody who is clearly still preoccupied with a previous partner.
It seems obvious doesn’t it, that compromising on the small number of things that really matter to your heart and your sense of self will create a dysfunctional relationship, but I see this so often!
Know this, a good partner wants to make you happy. By telling them what’s important to you, you are helping them to feel secure and comfortable too. Of course, it is essential that you encourage them to express their needs and ideals as openly as possible too.
It really is this simple and the most important quality to develop for healthy boundaries is integrity.
The steps are very simple.
1. What we need to do is ascertain what really matters to us, and what type of person we are and which qualities we choose to develop in ourselves.
2. Then we need to note what we cannot compromise on and what we dislike but can negotiate with.
3. I appreciate the most difficult step is the final one – we need to learn to say “no”. If we decide something is not appropriate in our lives, then having the courage not to allow it in our lives is key. Remember you don’t ever need to explain or apologize.
You have a right to live your own life however you wish and to be happy and fulfilled.
Integrity, courage and so much happiness and blessings to you~~~~