What is your default boundary response?
Boundaries can be thought of as occurring along a continuum, with each end representing an extreme boundary response that happens like a reflex during emotionally complex moments, like fight or flight response to perceived threat. Middle boundaries promote better health but require considerable more effort, awareness and self regulation, to find and maintain. But first you must know your reflexive default.
Diffuse: On one end of the continuum, boundaries are passive, offering little protection from stressors. APPROPRIATE IF: captivity or autonomy-limiting situation. HAVE: flexibility, caring for others. LACK: self responsibility, assertiveness. TRENDS: people pleasers and/or rescuers. FEELINGS: sadness, loneliness, self pity. FIX: move toward healthy boundaries--turn the dial UP on being more self responsible and assertive, caring for your needs first then others, being clear about your position.
Rigid : On the other end, boundaries are impenetrable, offering no room for stress but also no room for anyone but the self. APPROPRIATE IF: toxic relationship, abuse. HAVE: assertive, self-responsibility . LACK: flexibility, caregiving, vulnerability. TRENDS: blamers, abandoners. FEELINGS: anger, resentment, isolation. FIX: Move toward healthy boundaries by turning DOWN assertiveness, and increasing flexibility to existing boundaries, softening toward others, opening up about worries, allowing yourself to care about the needs of everyone in the room.
Healthy : In the middle, boundaries are a good mix of assertiveness and flexibility, self care and other care, compromise but NOT competition for resources, vulnerability but responsibility for the self. Visualize a knob to turn your boundaries UP (more Rigid) or DOWN (more Diffuse) to achieve just the right balance for the given situation
R E F L E C T I O N Q U E S T I O N S:
1. What is my default boundary position?
2. Is it hard for me to be assertive? Why, why not?
3. Is it hard for me to be vulnerable? Why, why not?
4. What sort of boundaries did my family have?
5. What might I try next to make a boundary I have more healthy?
MANTRA: I know where I end and another begins.