Honestly, it’s only really been the last year or two where I have adequately implemented boundaries in my life. Before this, I can be open in saying the lines were extremely blurred. I’m a people pleaser, and I spent my life trying to make everyone happy but only ended up making myself miserable in the process. Boundaries are extremely important and if you are not implementing them, let me tell you right now that you should be!!
What Is a Boundary?
Until two years ago, I thought a boundary was what separated my garden from the next-door neighbour and to be honest; they are not too dissimilar at all. A boundary sets the limit of what you deem acceptable and unacceptable. It separates my feelings from your feelings. My responsibilities from your responsibilities. It sets the tone for how you wish to be treated and is personal and unique to you. Your boundaries may be different to mine, but all boundaries should be respected and enforced.
Enforcing Boundaries – Not As Easy As It Seems
When you set a boundary, this needs to be enforced. However, what tends to happen is that people have good intentions of setting boundaries, but when it comes to implementing them, they fold. When a boundary isn’t upheld, it is no longer a boundary, and you will only be hurting yourself in the long run. This seems deep, and I guess, on the one hand, it is. On the other hand, imagine it from a parenting point of view. You set the boundary with your child that they need to go to bed at 8 pm, but when 8 pm comes around, you allow them to stay up until 8.10 pm or 8.20 pm or later still. You do this on such a significant basis that you send out the message that you yourself do not respect the boundary, so therefore your child won’t. When it comes actually to enforce the 8 pm bedtime, it will be much harder, and it will, in fact, be you that suffers as a result.
Now think about a boundary regarding loaning money to friends. Your boundary is that you don’t lend money to friends because it’s messy and ends up damaging the friendship in the long run. The problem is when asked by your friend to loan money, you don’t withhold your boundary. You feel an obligation to lend the money because they need it, and you think the “right” thing to do is help them. Two weeks later, they don’t pay you back as promised, and you end up chasing them for the money they owe. The friendship ends up damaged, and you never speak again, not to mention the money you never get back! This could have been avoided by setting and sticking with your original boundary.
Want some steps to follow on setting and implementing boundaries? This post will be helpful here.