Setting Boundaries: Why We Need Personal Property Lines

Imagine yourself living in a house without doors on the hinges, without glass on the windows.  It is an open structure – a free for all for anyone walking by your house – an invite to come on inside. Brings a whole new meaning to “Mi casa su casa”.

This is what it is like to live without setting boundaries.

If you are feeling resentment or anger, find yourself complaining over the relationship, then you might be needing to set a boundary.

Healthy relationships require healthy boundaries.

Adding Property Lines

This always seems so tough for people. You feel guilty for asking someone to comply with respecting your request. But, you wouldn’t feel guilty if an intruder broke into your home and started taking your possessions, would you?

Boundaries can be too rigid or too loose. Those whose boundaries are too rigid literally shut out everyone from their lives. They appear aloof and distant, and do not talk about feelings or show emotions. They exhibit extreme self-sufficiency, and do not ask for help. They do not allow anyone to get physically or emotionally close to them. It is as if they live in a house surrounded by an immense wall with no gates. No one is allowed in.

Those whose boundaries are too loose put their hands on strangers and let others touch them inappropriately. They may be sexually promiscuous, confuse sex and love, be driven to be in a sexual relationship, and get too close to others too fast. They may take on the feelings of others as their own, easily become emotionally overwhelmed, give too much, take too much, and be in constant need of reassurance. They may expect others to read their minds, think they can read the minds of others, say “yes” when they want to say “no,” and feel  responsible for the feelings of others. Those with loose boundaries often lead chaotic lives, full of drama, as if they lived in houses with no fences, gates, locks, or even doors.

What Do I Need To Do

When you identify the need to set a boundary, do it clearly, preferably without anger, and in as few words as possible. Do not justify, apologize for, or rationalize the boundary you are setting. Do not argue! Just set the boundary calmly, firmly, clearly, and respectfully.

You can’t set a boundary and take care of someone else’s feelings at the same time. You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. You are only responsible for communicating the boundary in a respectful manner. If others get upset with you, that is their problem. If they no longer want your friendship, then you are probably better off without them. You do not need “friends” who disrespect your boundaries.

At first, you will probably feel selfish, guilty, or embarrassed when you set a boundary. Do it anyway, and tell yourself you have a right to take care of yourself. Setting boundaries takes practice and determination. Anticipate that you will feel anxiety and you might be tested, especially by those accustomed to controlling you, abusing you, or manipulating you. Plan on it, expect it, but be firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. You can not establish a clear boundary successfully if you send a mixed message by apologizing for doing so.

Learning to set healthy boundaries takes time. It is a process. You will set boundaries when you are ready. It’s your growth in your own time frame, not what someone else tells you. Let your coach or counselor help you with pace and process.

 

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