In the previous blog Self Respect & Healthy Boundaries – Part 1 I spoke about boundaries – what they are & why we need them. In this blog, I will continue to share about boundaries including what having healthy boundaries looks like, why it can be so hard to set them, and how to do so successfully.
Not everybody gets to have full access to you. Trust and intimacy must be earned. No one should enter your bedroom or your temple without your full permission. Nor should anyone penetrate your consciousness or emotional body if it is not with love.
Think about the last person you felt really angry with. Now look closely at your history with them. Feel into the moments when you have allowed that person to come closer to you-physically, sexually or emotionally-than they had earned the right to or than you would have liked.
Now imagine that you did not allow that. Instead, you walked away, stopped engaging or expressed that you were not going to continue the conversation anymore.
When people are held the correct distance from you, you will stop resenting them. Until then, you are just using this person as a weapon to beat yourself up with. Put an end to being a victim. Stand in your dignity and start expressing your truth!
It is your healthy boundaries that say ‘No!’ when you don’t like something, ; when you want something or someone to stop; when you don’t want to do something that you may otherwise do out of guilt, obligation or pressure; or when you are being mistreated.
“No” for someone who has healthy boundaries is often a complete sentence!
It is healthy boundaries that empower you to stand up for yourself. It is healthy boundaries that gives you a sense of self-respect and protects you from people having power over you. Every one of us, at some point will be brought face to face with the need to discover and integrate healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries do not mean having walls of protection or barriers that no one can get past. In fact, people who have to self-protect often do not trust themselves to set boundaries, so they just avoid those situations all together. We need to be tuned into our feelings and assert ourselves through our own choices rather than withdraw or react in order to have boundaries. Avoiding connection, shaming, taming, complaining and projection is ego. Acting from a space of being true to ourselves is assertive and self-loving.
Someone with healthy boundaries:
- Doesn’t compromise values for others
- Shares personal information in an appropriate way (does not over- or under-share)
- Knows personal wants and needs and can communicate them
- Accepts when others say “No” to them and is ok with saying “No” themselves
- Honours physical needs in and out of the bedroom including the need for space
- Will not tolerate criticism, belittling or shaming of one’s feelings, thoughts or ideas
- Sets limits on intimacy depending on who they are engaging with
- Will not tolerate intimate or sexual acts that do not feel comfortable
- Honours their time by balancing self-care with work and relationships
- Won’t be taken advantage of in the work place – they understand value given for value received
Think for a second about a boundary that can be difficult for you to establish or to uphold with someone in your life.
- Maybe you have difficulty saying “No” when you’re partner wants to make love or has a certain desire
- Maybe you have difficulty ending a conversation when a family member or friend is running a very stressful dialogue that does not serve you or them, with little attention to how you are doing
- Maybe you jump in to save others, when you really need to worry about yourself
- Maybe you allow someone to touch you when you don’t feel comfortable with them doing so
- Maybe you keep saying, “Yes” to people and their requests, at the expense of your work-life balance, self-care, values and sanity
At the root of all unhealthy boundaries (both too flexible or too rigid) is FEAR and CO-DEPENDENCY
Fear of what?
- Fear of being rejected and losing love
- Fear of being too needy
- Fear you will not be valued or accepted
- Fear of being smothered, taken advantage of, or a push over
- Fear of being emotionally, physically, or sexually hurt
- Feeling unworthy of love, respect, protection, and/or personal space
When a person struggles with co-dependency, they will also have a hard time maintaining healthy boundaries. Co-dependency is a type of relationship that is often marked by neediness, avoidance, addiction, unhealthy behaviour, and often some type of emotional or physical abuse.
In a co-dependent relationship, one or both people (either consciously or unconsciously):
- Feel as though they can’t function without the other, so they engage in behaviour designed to keep the relationship going – no matter the personal cost
- Cannot feel content in their own being if their partner is unhappy, especially if that unhappiness is associated with them
- Tolerate and/or accept unhealthy behaviour and be weak in their boundaries because they fear they will hurt or lose the other person (love addict), or
- Will be aggressive and abusive rather than setting healthy boundaries so that they can do a runner and don’t have to feel the other persons unhappiness with them (love avoider).
- In the first case (love addict), it can show up with behaviour like accepting things that they don’t like just so they won’t be abandoned, not sharing their true feelings out of fear of being rejected, and often compromising themselves so they feel loved.
- In the second case (love avoider), it can show up with being too extreme with boundaries and saying “No” to everything, being super sensitive and using boundaries as a way of avoiding personal responsibility or deflecting communication and what the other person needs. They will do anything to avoid feeling like a failure and carry the burden of the other persons disapproval.
No matter who the other person is, you have no obligation to endure harmful, toxic or abusive situations. Whether it’s your partner, parent, friend, family member or child, you have the right to exercise healthy control over what you allow in your physical and emotional field.
- say “No” to anything that doesn’t feel right
- walk away from a situation that makes you feel disrespected or mistreated
- say “No” to sex, to being touched in ways you don’t enjoy, doing favoursfor people, going where you don’t want to go, having conversations you don’t want to have, lending money, opening your home, and tolerating unkind communication.
Setting boundaries does not always come easily and is often a skill that needs to be learned and practiced because we are usually not taught it at school or by our parents. Instead we are taught to be good girls and people please. Knowing your boundaries and setting them are two very different hurdles to overcome. First, you have to become aware of what your boundaries are.
By clearly defining your boundaries, you will have a benchmark to assess when someone is overstepping your limits. Instead of going into fight or flight, you simply take care of yourself. Your boundaries may evolve over time, so keep up the self-inquiry. You may want to get clear with the different boundaries that apply to the different people in your life – partners, lovers, work colleagues, friends, children, family.
A boundary primary deals with yourself, not the other person. You are not demanding that someone will do or not do something. You are setting boundaries to say what you will do or will not do.
Only these kinds of boundaries are enforceable, for you only have control over yourself. Do not confuse boundaries with a new way to control someone. It is the opposite. It is giving up control and beginning to love. You are letting go of depending on others for you to feel safe and creating safety for yourself. If you’re constantly making others responsible for upholding your boundaries, you are like a puppet on a string – and someone else holds the strings. You can never guarantee what someone else will do or not do, but you can guarantee what you will and will not tolerate.
Bearing this in mind, what are your boundaries sexually, relationally, in the work place and with your children? Share them with a friend and or write them down.
Here are some examples of personal boundaries:
- No – as a complete sentence!No explaining, no justifying just NO.
- I don’t want to engage sexually right now/anymore
- I don’t want to be here anymore
- I don’t want to talk about the past
- I would prefer not to share as that is private, but thank you for showing interest
- I need space. I’m leaving for an hour and then I will be back
- I don’t want to talk to you anymore
- I am entitled to my own thoughts and feelings
- My car is off limits. It is too precious to me
- No, you cannot borrow my clothes
- My yoni/breasts/ears/anus is off limits
- I cannot stay back at work today, my relationship with my family needs to take priority
- I don’t want to do that job for that amount of money
Boundaries in action:
- Ignoring someone
- Walking or driving away
- Hanging up the phone
These examples give people who cross your boundaries natural consequencesfrom an empowered space. It makes them think about their actions rather than being shamed for them. It also cuts out all the explaining, complaining, judging and over-communicating. It’s quite simple – you are saying NO. They have no choice in the matter. You are an autonomous being.
First of all, you have to realise that you can’t set boundaries and at the same time, take care of someone else’s emotional body.
Setting boundaries may disappoint others, but it sets us free.
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.~ Brene Brown
When you set boundaries, you have to release the good girl, the nice boy, the people pleaser and the caretaker. People may not like it and may not like you when you set boundaries, especially those who have benefited from you having none. Have courage to be true to yourself and to respect yourself. Have courage to make your needs and your love for yourself, more important than your fear of losing love. You matter and remember, your “No” is more important than somebody else’s “Yes”.Loving someone does not equal tolerating behaviour.
We cannot simultaneously set a boundary and take care of another person’s feelings. ~ Melody Beattie
When you establish a new boundary with someone, the most common form of resistance one gets is anger. People who get angry at others for setting boundaries have a character problem. Self-centred, they think the world exists for them and their comfort. They see others as extensions of themselves. Don’t take someone else’s crazy on as your own! Don’t doubt or second guess yourself! Let them have their reaction, their experience, that’s their business. Deal with what’s going on in your body and let them deal with what’s going on in theirs.
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Ready to CREATE HEALTHY BOUNDARIES?
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