There is little more frustrating than interacting with family, your children, friends, clients, and colleagues while filled with the resentment, stress, and anxiety of having your boundaries overrun. For many, this leads to internal conflict, external strife, and feelings of general disempowerment; which takes a toll on our relationships, attitude toward work, and our emotional well-being.
Yet many people simply don’t understand how to set and enforce healthy boundaries. After all, it’s not something you learn in school. In fact, many people finally learn how to set boundaries as a result of struggling with poor boundaries for years. It’s not until they take a step back and examine the negative consequence of poor boundaries on a relationship that they realize they need to change something.
What are Boundaries in Relationships?
We encounter boundaries all day, every day. In fact, walking through your front door is an example of a boundary in your life. It marks a delineation between what happens outside of your personal space and what (or who) you allow inside.
It is the same with us. In its simplest form, personal boundaries are the way we clarify where we end and others begin and our respective responsibilities for a quality relationship. Like our front door, boundaries help us and others to know the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical rules of our road and what to expect when interacting. Healthy boundaries are how we set ourselves and others up for success.
Healthy boundaries allow us to maintain our identity and authenticity when interacting with others. Setting boundaries ensures we are clear with others and ourselves about what we are willing to allow in and what we won’t. This act of self-care gifts us assurance that we are living our lives with clarity and enjoying our key relationships from a place of empowerment.
Boundaries are the agreements you establish with others and yourself
Boundaries are the agreements you establish with others and yourself. They fall into several different aspects of life including:
- Physical: What happens inside your home and personal space versus what does not. Your comfort level with touch, privacy, and the basic necessities of life.
- Emotional: How you interact with others and what you expect from them. Honoring and respecting feelings and energy without encroaching.
- Time: Establishing time and energy for all areas of life including work, family, self, and friendships
- Sexual: Developing an intimate relationship with mutual respect, consent, and understanding
- Intellectual: Maintaining thoughts and ideas despite others opinions of them
- Material: Setting limits on how possessions are used or lended
Over categorizing boundaries, however, can be misleading. In relationships, boundaries are often interrelated. If someone is intruding on one type of boundary, chances are you are also affected by other areas of your life.
For example, an oppressive lover that constantly trivializes your feelings may also show no respect for your privacy, time constraints, or possessions. Conversely, if you struggle to set boundaries in your work life, you likely struggle to set them in other areas of your life as well.
Once you learn to set boundaries, you will begin to interact with more clarity and purpose. You will no longer feel victimized or taken advantage of. As a result, you will feel more empowered within your relationships as opposed to dreading them.
But here’s the thing…
Boundaries are Complicated
Our roles are different for each relationship. We interact differently with our spouse compared to a coworker or parent. Our boundaries have different limits depending on who we’re addressing.
It may be easy to say “no” to a friend that seems to take advantage of your time and belongings. But when a boss or parent asks for more than you are comfortable with, it may be harder to assert yourself.
Since everyone and every relationship is a little different, distinguishing boundaries can be confusing. After all, we want to be there for others and provide support. It’s just that sometimes you can feel taken advantage of despite your good intentions.
It’s no wonder healthy boundaries are so hard to figure out with some relationships.
Signs You May Have Poor Boundaries
Taking a closer look at your personal boundaries often starts with assessing how you feel everyday. Those with poor boundaries often experience:
- A lack of control in life
- Too much drama in relationships
- A reliance on others to make personal decisions
- Fear of letting others down or rejection
- Unhealthy levels of guilt and anxiety
- Feeling like a victim or disrespected
- Interactions that are passive-aggressive
- Difficulty saying “no” or “yes” to others
- Oversharing with inappropriate people
- A hard time being honest with people
- Problems with time management
- Verbal, physical, or sexual abuse
- Feeling weak if asking for help
- Experiencing fatigue for no apparent reason
These are all signs of either rigid (keeping others at a distance) or porous (gets too involved with others) boundaries.
Why Do Many People Struggle with Boundaries?
Setting boundaries is a learned behavior. For most people, boundaries are set from role-modeled behavior while growing up. As children, we absorb the interactions of those around us, and it shapes how we interact with others.
Some individuals don’t have the luxury of good role-models while growing up. And the poor examples learned early in life become ingrained attitudes and behaviors.
For example, some parents attempt control and constantly criticize and punish a child until she complies with their ideals. As an adult, this child may keep others at a distance to avoid rejection or fear rejection if she doesn’t comply with what others demand.
And, sadly, the consequence is a lack of realization even that this is a boundaries issue. So many adults are just trying to get through each day while dealing with anxiety, frustration, and drama. Meanwhile, their relationships with friends, coworkers, and a partner continue to put stress on their physical and emotional health.
Luckily, everyone has the opportunity to examine and reset boundaries. It may involve asking hard questions and objectively evaluating interactions with others. It’s work fur sure …but it is possible.
For many, this process is easier with the help of unbiased, honest support.
Start Setting Healthy Boundaries Now
Are you ready to take back control and live an empowered life? Ready to say “yes” or “no” without feeling shame or guilt?
Wondering where to start?
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The Shape Your Foundation online program will help you define clear boundaries and release negative issues in your life and interactions with others.
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