Boundaries are a way to set limits in your life. They help you to make clear what you will and will not accept in another person’s behaviour towards you. They also help you to set strategies for yourself, so that you are more successful, healthy and happy.
Boundaries influence every area of your life including
Boundaries and Relationships
Setting clear boundaries is so very important in cherishing your own worth and asking the same from others.
We already live in a world of boundaries and we manage these appropriately because we know that doing so will keep us safe and happy. Say, for example, someone wants to come into your home—you expect them to ring or knock at the door to announce their presence, so that you can decide if you wish to allow them in.
You wouldn’t welcome someone into your personal space who is abusive or disrespectful to you. Yet when it comes to our relationships, we often leave the door wide open!
We make the mistake of thinking that people will automatically respect our boundaries when we ourselves aren’t even sure of what those boundaries are.
Then we spend time getting anxious and irritated when people take advantage (often unwittingly) That is a bit like fending off people coming through your doorway because you haven’t taken the time to stop and put an actual door in place!
'True assertiveness means letting people know ahead of time how you want to be treated - instead of reacting when they let you down'
So, this is what setting personal boundaries basically does for us: it reminds us and the people in our lives that we are of value.
But How Will People React When I Make These Changes?
One of the common concerns that people express to me is the worry that the people they’ve been ‘pleasing’ will become angry or reject them if they suddenly start putting their own needs first. It’s certainly true that when we first start setting boundaries, some people may find it strange and even be a little put out. But it’s important to bear with it.
For a short time, it may seem like people’s feathers are being ruffled, but these uncomfortable transitions often right themselves surprisingly quickly.
One of the good things about setting boundaries in your life is that it helps to reduce confusion. If you have decided on guidelines of how you’ll behave in certain situations or with people, you don’t have to stop and worry about it “in the moment”. The “agreement” is already in place in your mind – all you have to do is act accordingly.
What’s the Difference Between Putting Up Barriers and Setting Boundaries?
One thing that can prevent people from setting appropriate boundaries in their life is a concern that they may push others away or come across as being arrogant and aloof. It’s a good idea, therefore, to consider the difference between putting up barriers, and setting boundaries.
Barriers are created from a place of fear and separation.
Boundaries are created from self-respect, healthy relationships, a sense of worthiness, and love.
We all have an Inner-Child self, as well as an Adult self
Barriers Come from the Anxious Inner-child Self
People use barriers to protect themselves when they feel defenceless. They can appear cold and unfriendly, when really, they’re simply trying to shield themselves from a situation in which they feel overwhelmed.
It’s always the anxious little child within that puts up barriers. You can recognise this in yourself or others when you or they:
- Withhold affection
- Say ‘No!’ without explanation
- Become angry and defensive
- Behave in arrogant and rude ways
Boundaries Come from the Adult Self
On the other hand, when we set loving boundaries, we’re coming from our Adult self so we:
- Offer care and understanding
- Say ‘no’ with appropriate explanation
- Stay in communication (in the way that feels right)
- Remain calm
- Make agreements and find common ground.
When it comes to setting boundaries, one of the most common struggles that people have is being able to say 'no' in ways that are effective, kind, and without guilt.
Maybe you have had this experience too? It's one thing I help people to overcome.