What are Boundaries? Why are they useful? And Why you need them…

The word boundaries are used widely in our society, yet when I really connect with people I have found there is a lot of confusion around the topic of boundaries. The simplest way that I know how to define a boundary is what you are willing to do and what you are not willing to do. This definition can be applied to what you are willing to put up with as well. In some cases, boundaries are easy to set and in others, they are more difficult.

I have found these 3 factors affect how easy it is to establish a firm boundary:

1. If you had poor boundaries in the first place.

We often start relationships behaving our best which may sometimes mean we cross our own boundaries. We can quickly realize that things are not working for us the way the relationships have been going. After this realization, you have two choices: you can either end the relationship, or you can communicate your new boundaries. First, you must be clear about what you want to change, what are you not willing to do anymore? Next, you must communicate this in a personally responsible manner. Take responsibility for your part in the issue. For instance, you can say ” I know in the past I have agreed to help with this project and I have now realized that although I want to help you I can’t do so in this way” 

Be prepared for the other person to be dissatisfied and that is OK because, in the long run, the relationship will be stronger because you are not building resentment and you are being more authentic.

2. It is hard to say “no” to people that are closest to you. 

We all have a deep-seated desire to be loved. The people closest to use are often the ones that give us this love. Therefore, it can be hard to say “no” to these people because we want to continue to receive love or we want them to feel our love. True love is not tied to what someone can receive from you, so if you have said “yes” when you really want to say “no” then it is time to set a new boundary. Start small, pick one thing you no longer want to do, and communication with personal responsibility (see example above).

3. You want everyone to like you or you don’t like conflict. 

Some of us are more conflict-averse than others. In fact, I do remember that I will often say yes to something just because I didn’t want to have a fight. Unfortunately, I ended up feeling resentful and disappointed because I acting in a way that wasn’t aligned with what I really wanted. Today I will ask you to really think about whether WHY! Why do you want to say yes to something? Do you really want to take this action? Pause before you say yes. If you are an HSP (Highly sensitive person) you may not be able to get to the real answer in a crowded room so instead of yes answer “let me get back to you.” 

These are just three of the reasons that individuals struggle with boundaries. I want to encourage you to try one of the steps listed above and see how much better you feel.