Boundaries and Relationships
Setting boundaries is important, and it’s more than just saying “don’t say that” and “please don’t do that.” Setting boundaries is something we can do for ourselves; setting boundaries creates a line that we ask people to respect. It shows that we respect ourselves and we took the time to create those boundaries, and we are asking for respect from everyone else – to respect those lines we have created.
Boundaries can be physical, mental, spiritual, sexual, emotional, legal, or relationship- focused. You’ll know if your boundaries are being ignored if you find yourself constantly playing the victim, being cold and distant to protect your emotions, feeling like you have to report to family or a significant other, or feeling like you’re different but you are not allowed to act in that different manner.
As I read up more on boundaries, the types of boundaries, and examples, I saw that I have a lack of boundaries; I let people walk all over me to a certain degree. There are ten laws of boundaries and they helped me to see where I am lacking and where I might have some strengths. Listed below are the laws:
Law 1 Law of Cause and Effect
Law 2 Law of Responsibility
Law 4 Law of Respect
Law 5 Law of Motivation
Law 6- Law of Evaluation
Law 7 – Law of Proactivity
Law 8 Law of Envy
Law 9 Law of Activity
Law 10 Law of Exposure
I’m not going to go into detail about each law, in fact, I think you will find it much more helpful to do some research on your own time. Remember when I talked about how great a lightbulb moment can feel? I just had another lightbulb moment when I started to read about each boundary and started to realize how I could strengthen myself.
In essence, these laws of boundary empower us and encourage us to take responsibility of our actions. Although difficult, it is important to be honest with ourselves and to be honest with others when we do something wrong, and it is important to take a piece of the responsibility that we might have contributed to the issue. It’s much easier to point the finger at someone else, or put fault on another person or an unexpected situation to make excuses for ourselves.
One example I can think of is when I would arrive late to class. It made me anxious to be late to class, and even today, it makes me anxious to be late to pretty much anything. I would arrive late, out of breath, usually looking a bit disheveled, and certainly in a bad mood. I would start creating the blame and pointing the finger. If the bus driver was not driving so slow to campus, if it was not raining – forcing me to run back into the apartment for boots, if my roommate did not bring her stupid dog to school – which I chased after once he followed me out the front door, THEN I would not have been late to my class. I remember that there were consequences for showing up late such as a “lack of participation” or being stuck with a group I did not want to work with because I did not arrive early enough to pick the right group. There was always just ONE seat left, and it was mine, and it happened to ALWAYS be the seat in the front of the room – front and center. Did you know that sitting in that seat meant the professor would call on me all the time? I was miserable when I was running late to class. But whose fault was that really? It was no one’s fault but my own. I don’t have control over any one else or anything else that can happen in the world, but I do have control over my own feelings and my own reactions. Rather than spending time pointing the finger, I should have claimed responsibility. It was my fault I was late because I could have woken up earlier to ensure early arrival. It was my fault that I had to sit in the last available seat, that I was stuck with a group I did not know for projects, and that my participation grade was affected. I had the power to make the decision to wake up earlier. No one was telling me I had to stay in bed.
I think we all can be guilty of avoiding to create boundaries. Maybe we are aware of our boundaries, but we are afraid to express them. Maybe we have expressed where our boundaries lie, but we were either ignored or misunderstood. When it comes to creating and expressing boundaries, we have to do so openly and honestly and without fear. It is okay to hurt someone’s feelings if it means that you are protecting yourself and putting up a fence around your yard so that other’s know what constitutes “crossing the line.” Now, I don’t think that hurting someone’s feelings is okay all the time, I’m definitely not promoting or encouraging anyone to go hurt someone else. My point is that if the intention is to express your boundaries, you should not avoid expressing them because you are fearful of hurting the others’ feelings or creating conflict. For instance, I wish that when I was dating a boy and he suddenly became disinterested in me, it would have been nice for him to just tell me. Whatever his motivations, he was avoiding the conversation which would have gone something like, “hey, I think you’re a cool person, but I don’t want to date you.” Plain and simple. I would know exactly how he felt. It would hurt my feelings, of course, but looking at the bigger picture, I would have known how he felt and I would not have pursued him or wasted my time. Additionally, sometimes we express our boundaries, but they can be ignored or misconstrued. Use my same example from above… but if he had said something vague to me like, “hey, I’m busy tonight, maybe another time,” that just means he wants to see me some other time, right? Well, maybe. But for arguments’ sake, we know he is not interested in me, but he is afraid of hurting my feelings. In his mind, he is turning me down, but I am not receiving his message, and thus I do not know where his boundaries lie. This is why it is super important to express our boundaries AND express them directly, to the point.
Another important thing to note is that it is ok to say “no”. Too many times, we allow people to cross our boundaries, but we say “yes” instead of “no” to avoid conflict, to avoid angering the other person, or to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings. But in doing so, we allow them to cross our boundaries and disrespect us, in turn, we are disrespecting ourselves.
For me, it’s a hard concept to fully grasp – creating boundaries. It was hard even as I read about boundaries and the different laws of boundaries to understand everything. I’d like to think that I respect myself and that I’m a strong, independent woman. However, having a lack of personal boundaries means I am doing a disservice to myself and not fully respecting myself. I did not even realize that I was lacking personal boundaries. Then the questions pop up, okay, so how do I create my boundaries; how do I know where I’m lacking; how do I express my boundaries? I think I’m going to start at the beginning. I’ll read over the different types of boundaries we can have, and strengthen the ones that sound new to me. I’ll start expressing my boundaries to my closest relationships- my husband, my mom, my dad. Will they think I’m weird? Will they question where this is all coming from? Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is that I should be doing all that I can within my power and within my control to be my best self- to protect myself, to respect myself, to live a full life – and creating my personal boundaries and asking people to respect them will be another step toward living a happy and healthy life. It’s quite difficult to take care of someone else if we have not fully taken care of ourselves. Taking the necessary steps to being the best person I can be, is taking the necessary steps to “take care of myself”, so that I can take care of my family and support them 100%.