According to Wikipedia, the definition Personal boundaries for is: “guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.”
I think we all struggle with setting healthy boundaries, I know I certainly have in the past. As human beings we want to feel connected to others, thus we want to be liked. One of the main reasons why we get scared is because we are afraid we won’t be liked or loved.
So it’s no wonder that’s because we want to be liked, we sometimes don’t enforce our boundaries and always end up paying for it, sometimes in the worst way.
We all have had that friendship or relationship which ended badly because we let things slide that we knew we shouldn’t have. We allowed the other person to say and do things we knew were unacceptable, but we accepted it without saying a word and silently hoped that they wouldn’t do it again. And then lo and behold, they do!
We are mortified and think if “they really cared about me, they would treat me with more respect.” But how is that person supposed to know what our boundaries are if we’ve never told them?
The onus is on us to take the lead and show people how to treat us. We need to start as we mean to go on and let the first time be the last time.
This means the first time someone, no matter who it is, does something that pushes or flat out violates our boundaries, we need to let them know and clarify how we want to be treated going forward.
In order to do this we need to know what our boundaries actually are. We do this by establishing the values and principles we want to live by because they determine the core of who we are and, thus how we show up and present ourselves to the world.
Once we have clarified what our values and principles are, when someone undermines them, we know they are pushing our boundaries and we need to nib this behaviour in the bud before it has a chance to grow.
This can be challenging because it means being confrontational. I was watching the TV show: Iyanla: Fix my Life recently. The episode was about marriage in crisis. There was a wife who was being treated like a doormat by her husband. Although the wife wasn’t happy she didn’t want to say anything and was afraid to confront her husband about his bad behaviour.
Iyanla replied saying she [the wife] needed to be “carefrontational”: This meant being confrontational in a caring or loving way because she cared enough about herself to not allow another person to treat her badly.
And that is ultimately what having boundaries means:
loving and caring enough about ourselves to not allow anyone to undermine and violate our principles and values because it is we are at our core.