What is a boundary anyway? You have probably heard the word thrown around often these days, and may even have some ideas about boundaries. But all too often boundaries are languaged as your rules that other people cross--boundaries are so much more than that! To get the most out of boundaries you need to know what they are and what they aren't.
What Boundaries are NOT:
- Not a rule
- Not a law
- Not a demand
- Not a command
- Not a threat
- Not a guarantee
- Not a barrier
- Not a given
- Not reactive
What a Boundary IS:
• A self-directed guide YOU set for YOURSELF and that YOU are responsible for: Too often we think a boundary is what others need to do to make us happy, this is wrong. Really, a boundary is what you need to do to increase your own happiness, sometimes this requires participation from others but sometimes not. In any case, it is our responsibility to ask for their help, not theirs to know then do.
• A coping strategy to help you respond to and manage your own feelings: even when happiness is not in sight, your feelings require appropriate response from you, instead of reactivity (quick, unintentional reflexes). Boundaries help us be less reactive and more responsive to ours and others experiences.
• A psychological parameter to know where you end and someone else begins: while it is your responsibility to identify and respond to your own experience, others have the same responsibility. Instead of meddling about in each other’s’ realms, communicate what is going on with you and respectfully listen to what might be going on with them. Differences are likely and okay, try to empower and empathize instead of rescue or minimize their experience.
• An action plan that tells you how to behave when you feel a particular way in a particular situation: differences mean we often have very different needs in a shared situation. This means that you must figure out how you would like to behave based on your own experience, and to allow others to do the same. When these boundaries clash, you must negotiate until both/all parties feel empowered to act. Sure, it takes longer, but when successful, the effects are worth effort. When unsuccessful, at least everyone knows what they need and can act independently.
1. What is an example of one of my current boundaries?
2. Is my boundary any of things on the NOT list? What?
3. Do I have confused ideas about responsibility in my current boundaries?
4. How might I rework my boundary to be less confused and more self-responsible?
MANTRA : I have healthy boundaries and respect myself in loving ways.