There is a buzz in the air regarding personal BOUNDARIES and the why and how behind them. A boundary is a line that marks a limit creating a dividing line. We all have limitations, BUT we all are not establishing them. Not setting boundaries in our lives generates anxiety, stress, guilt, and many other unhealthy feelings. These unhealthy feelings fuel the unhealthy habits we continue to foster. Then, one day we either severely cave in or make choices that further the frustrations. Sound familiar?
We have heard all about boundaries and the need to create them in our closest relationships. We see firsthand the lack of strength to have them. Then why are we struggling to make, keep, and enforce the boundaries we badly need? You know the saying, 'you can't see past your nose?' Let's consider this a true statement with personal boundaries. We fight knowing we want to create healthy boundaries in our life and the ability to enforce and sustain them. The straightforward approach to understanding boundaries would be to seek a quick fix. We could list healthy boundaries and guidelines and give you a list to uphold. If it were that easy, though, the internet would be full of to-do lists that are the perfect formula for creating boundaries. Before making an extensive list, struggling to maintain it, and feeling defeated again, let's try a different approach. Let's look at what a boundary is and is not, the seven closest relationships you have to consider creating boundaries for, and then the best place to begin the process.
a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line
What exactly do healthy boundaries look like?
Healthy boundaries are crucial to your physical, mental, and emotional health. They look different for each person and relationship and may change over time. Healthy boundaries involve communicating your wants and needs in a relationship and respecting the other person.
Which personal boundaries do you need more guidance? Not sure? We have you covered. Let's take a quick minute to describe the top 7 boundaries we struggle with in our relationships.
BOUNDARIES WITH YOURSELF
It all begins here. You will begin with yourself if you want to start setting healthy boundaries. Boundaries can only exist if you bring them into your personal life first. The need to establish boundaries will begin with knowing what you want, feel, and the need to develop a line of protection around yourself. Remember we said we have a hard time looking past our noses? We make it hard on ourselves to establish this protection because we condition ourselves to say yes. Our parents, caregivers, religious organizations, and corporate America have created an underlying assumption regarding availability. If we don't say yes all the time, we are not being helpful and available and might miss out on the next big thing. This assumption creates a pattern of feeling the need always to be available. We link our availability to our achievements and to giving back to others. Giving is great, but not at the expense of hurting or devaluing yourself. Neglecting yourself is not a way to show you care about others. Instead, it can lead to anxiety and depression and make you feel powerless. Certain personality types are what we call people pleasures and struggle deeply with setting boundaries for themself. Being a people pleaser is often due to needing a clearer understanding of our goals and value. Once you set goals and understand your value, respecting yourself and communicating with others will create a safe space for you to thrive. Having boundaries can shield you from bad experiences and strengthen your relationships.
BOUNDARIES WITH BUSINESS
With technology, flexible work, and ever-changing workplaces, setting healthy boundaries is more complicated than ever. We lose sleep thinking through our workday and how to improve and keep up in an ever-changing world. Like our
personal boundaries with ourselves, we feel the tug even stronger when faced with boundaries at work. Having poor boundaries often means being responsive to other people's needs and expectations at your own expense. Essentially our work status is marked by our performance. This performance largely dictates how we show up, the hours we put in, and our ability to be available. We favor doing a good job, being a team player, and going above and beyond, but not at the expense of your health. There is an immense unveiling of mental health difficulties in the workplace, and the undue pressure businesses can place on their employees to perform at high levels over long periods. Our careers have become our identities, what we are known for, and we have highly sought-after accolades. Are you guaranteed success, raises, and titles by being a yes person? Is your career who you are or what you do for a profession? We bet you said no to both of those questions, and we welcome you to consider two healthier options. Talk to someone in HR if you feel you are being unjustly treated, disrespected, or made to believe your job is on the line. Also, consider looking for ways to serve, meet needs or problems, and solve those problems for the company or coworkers. Creating solutions is a constructive action to show your value and keep you confident about your role without making more work or long hours. Healthy boundaries play a significant role in a positive work environment.
BOUNDARIES WITH KIDS
Learning to set boundaries for ourselves, work, and a partner may seem daunting and unconquered territory, but establishing boundaries for kids is a whole other playground. The pun is well-intended. How do we, as adults and parents, set boundaries with humans not mentally developed enough to comprehend the importance of the limits we want to establish? You may find establishing boundaries with your kids challenging, and the merry-go-round of chaos lingers in your home. Establishing boundaries with your kids will promote growth, age-appropriate behaviors, lifelong healthy habits, and safety.
Look within first when establishing boundaries with your kids. Look at your motivations and what you want to accomplish. Are you a helicopter parent or a parent who focuses on healthy growth? At the root of helicopter parenting is anxiety. As a parent, you may become nervous about your child's success or ability to handle things in life, in school, with friends, in sports, or with their ability to behave appropriately. It might feel like you're alleviating stress by jumping in and taking control instead of letting your child work things out for himself. You may also find yourself living vicariously through your kids or needing to be in agreement with their co-parent. Sometimes you feel like boundaries with your children are not a breezy walk in the park but a stormy hike through a jungle. Give yourself some grace because parenting doesn't come with the perfect guide. However, you can create an action plan by establishing boundaries with your kids—work on understanding them and how and why they may be reacting to certain situations. We also recommend looking into their love language as well as your own. We prefer to receive love in 5 general categories: spending quality time, hearing positive affirmations, receiving gifts, physical touch, and acts of service. Understanding each other's love languages can help communicate and establish boundaries. Remember that respect goes both ways, even with the smallest people in your home.
BOUNDARIES WITH OUR PARTNER
"I keep myself up at night, tossing and turning, thinking about how I wish
I could tell my partner how I feel. I'm struggling inside with myself, with us,
and looking at a dim future. I get nauseated just thinking about the
confrontation this will bring if I share what is going on in my head & heart."
The above quote is valid for over half of marriages, partnerships, and intimate relationships. We live years in relationships with people we spend hours of our lifetime. Yet, we need to have a voice in our wants and boundaries. Why is this so difficult to communicate in an information and technological society?
There are 3 top reasons why we struggle with voicing our need for boundaries with our partners. We don't have a clear understanding of our personal boundaries, we are fearful of outcomes, and we live in guilt. Ouch, nothing like ripping the bandaid right off. Again, how do we expect someone else if we don't know what we desire in a relationship, our standards, or our goals? Fear sets in because we are scared to voice our options and needs. The irony of being in a close relationship yet not feeling heard, connected, or respected is very common. Over time these unhealthy boundaries create anger, resentment, guilt, and isolation. Couples can be around each other daily and yet feel completely alone. It may have taken you years to reach the point where you find yourself with your partner, but with communication and patience, the tides can turn. Understanding yourself and being calm yet assertive with your partner can create love & kindness. Reciprocating mutual respect, listening, and cultivating healthy actions will help establish intimate growth.
BOUNDARIES WITH EXTENDED FAMILY
Birthdays, holidays, weddings, celebrations of life, showers, and family gathering can bring you warm fuzzies with great expectations. These milestones can also make you hear the phrase 'lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Hopefully, you feel the warm fuzzies and can't wait to be around your extended family, but from what we hear, you feel more like Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz. Family members on the prowl, lining up along your yellow brick road lurking in the shadows. Well, so it seems.
We care deeply about our extended families; they have often been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember. Then why the anxiety, stress, and uneasy pit in our stomachs at each family gathering? Most often, it's the lack of boundaries we have established. Blood may be thicker than water, but it doesn't mean it's always the cute choreographed dance from the Wizard of Oz.
It can be challenging to set boundaries, but remember, communication is vital. Before your next family gathering:
Consider thinking through your own choices and actions.
Stay away from family gossip.
Make a list of controversial topics for all to stay clear of discussing. If you are married, discuss the boundaries you feel comfortable with your in-laws.
Include your children, if age appropriate, so they know your family boundaries and expectations when with extended family.
Before your next family gathering, give yourself the gift of listening to these reminders so you arrive with your dancing Dorthy ruby red slippers.
BOUNDARIES WITH OUR FRIENDS
So no one told you life was going to be this way.
Your job's a joke, you're broke, you're love life's DOA.
It's like you're always stuck in second gear,
When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.
But, I'll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour.
I'll be there for you, like I've been there before.
I'll be there for you, cause you're there for me too.
Let your head bop back and forth, smile, and giggle a little as you remember the years of Friends episodes. Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler, and Joey all stood the test of time, situations, and situationships during daily dosing on coffee. As the catchy lyrics above remind us of the iconic tv friendships, they can also remind us of our friends. Our friends know us, get us, and walk through life with us. We, in turn, are there for their journeys. If these friendships are 'The Central Perk' in our lives, why do we struggle with boundaries with our closest friends? Can the best of friends need boundaries? Isn't that the whole reason for having besties, so we can be there for them, cause they are there for us too?
Setting boundaries with our besties can be challenging to manage. We have developed a friendship over time which means we have had time to build memories and a history together. Sometimes this history can show us, over time, that we are no longer comfortable with the status quo. We may see patterns in ourselves or others that no longer work for us. There can be hurt, unresolved issues, personality conflicts, and moral choices we aren't comfortable with anymore. Remember that even the best of friends grow, change and develop over time. Maintaining a common ground of understanding takes effort and communication. If you feel a solid connection to your friend, then openly communicating with them will strengthen the bond. When the 'rain starts to pour' you can be there for each other.
BOUNDARIES WITH TIME
Quite interesting to have time listed as one of our relationships, let alone listing it as needing boundaries. We are in a relationship with time. We are connected to it and have feelings toward it, which creates our behaviors toward time. Our concept and attitude toward time affect us significantly, and this effect requires healthy boundaries too.
We try so hard to try and control time, but time is not in our grasp to maintain. Time happens regardless of what we say, do, or feel. However, we can change our attitude toward time which in turn will give us positive results with time. Time is relevant to the past, present, and future. The past has happened, and we can learn and gain great wisdom from our experiences. The future will come, and planning our time now will bring about the opportunities we seek. Our present time is often the most neglected but the most essential. Present time means living in present moments and engaging in the fullness of our being in the here and now. We can certainly influence the very thing we think we can't control. Creating healthy boundaries regarding time can create more time. You can change your thoughts and words about time. You are what you think and speak; therefore, if you think you don't have time, then you won't. By changing your thoughts so
I can create my time, you have decided to focus on making the time. If you think time is going too fast, changing your attitude to thinking everything is happening at the right time will relieve you. Learn to appreciate and live in the moment. How you show up at the moment dramatically influences your perspective.
Once we have a healthy perspective of time, setting boundaries will help protect how we spend our time. The boundaries will protect you from agreeing to do things you don't want to, having people waste your time, and being overworked. Understanding your priorities and setting aside enough time for the many areas of your life without overcommitting will alleviate stress, frustration, and overwhelm.
Now that you think about boundaries and the need to create healthy ones, we want you. We are here for you. We also have a 6 part podcast series on Boundaries (plus a bonus episode) we welcome you to listen to for more understanding. We discuss the importance of having, creating, and initiating boundaries and their associated obstacles. In each episode, we will examine the most critical 'dividing lines' and how you can begin establishing boundaries in your life NOW. Already you want to take a closer look with a one-on-one connection call? Great, let's do it. Either way, the next step is where the growth and change occur. Please see the links below.
Part 1 - Yourself
Part 2 - Business
Part 3 - Kids
Part 4 - Partner
Part 5 - Extended Family
Part 6 - Friends
BONUS - Time