“Fucked-up people will try to tell you otherwise, but boundaries have nothing to do with whether you love someone or not.
They are not judgments, punishments, or betrayals. They are a purely peaceable thing: the basic principles you identify for yourself that define the behaviors that you will tolerate from others, as well as the responses you will have to those behaviors.
Boundaries teach people how to treat you, and they teach you how to respect yourself. “
He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down without walls.
Boundaries. We all have them <albeit sometimes we treat them a little too much like rubber bands>.
I will admit.
Just out of curiosity I googled ‘boundaries’ and … well … there is a shitload of advice and encouragement to ‘establish boundaries as a way to earn respect/protect self/etc.’
I was surprised. I was surprised because I tend to believe 99.9% of people understand the concept of boundaries. And 99.9% of that 99.9% understand establishing boundaries for themselves.
I tend to believe almost everyone knows they should rule over their own soul, purpose, body & Life and building some walls or boundaries helps do that.
I know some people struggle with maintaining boundaries, but that is different than knowing you need to establish some boundaries.
Look. I am okay with societal boundaries. Setting up some norms for everyone to kind of play against and within. But I tend to be focused more on personal boundaries. And I also tend to believe personal boundaries are more important in the scheme of things as well as giving everyone the room to express their personal boundaries.
Why? Because I believe if we would give everyone a little more room their own personal boundaries <within some degrees of right versus wrong> I would then have the choice to intersect within their boundaries or not.
They have their choices.
And I have my choices.
They have their boundaries.
And I have my boundaries.
Now. To help everyone understand why I like this whole “you have your boundaries and I have mine and lets figure out if we don’t step over the other’s boundaries” Life management thing … I believe everyone has these three things in their Life:
These are stronger than guidelines. They are stop signs or “no trespassing” signs at your boundary which we create to identify, first, for ourselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around us and, second, set a clear guidepost <not guideline> on our response when someone steps over those lines.
To be clear.
It is up to us on recognizing what is our responsibility <and what is truly within our power to control> in providing oversight on our boundaries. But having boundaries, clear cut boundaries, will inevitably not just define you as a person and define your ‘scope of action’ and behaviors, but will also define the relationship between you and … well … everything and everyone around you. I could also argue that a good set of well self-defined boundaries means you manage, create and dictate your own destiny.
Well. They establish responsibility … responsibility for your own life … how you act, what you do and what you will accept in others. They mean you have consciously made a stand in a define space and are accepting the consequences, good and bad, for the Life that occurs within those boundaries.
You and no one else.
I say that because <returning to my earlier point> these are your boundaries and you will respect the fact that others will have their own boundaries. Your boundaries are not meant to judge others behavior or, worse, dictate their behavior. They are simply your boundaries.
And they are simply you being clear with you on what is acceptable and what you assume responsibility for.
Now. This all sounds well and good and fairly easy for me type, but, this is where boundaries can get a little stretchy & sketchy on occasion. To make such a stand on boundaries as I am suggesting you kind of have to know your self fairly well — some well-defined beliefs, desires, needs, and attitudes.
That’s not always easy.
However, I will note, when you do get it right it makes it extremely difficult to be manipulated and extremely easy to walk your own path.
I found a book by a doctor called “Boundaries and Relationships” which suggest these are characteristics of healthy boundaries:
determined by US
Determined by Us. As in “I” have chosen my boundaries. It simplifies things because this means “I” am taking responsibility for my own actions and “you” will take responsibility for your actions.
I also think it simplifies ‘self’ a little more because it helps create a clearer identity for you and them <and your Life is always easier if everyone around you can tell what type of person you are without guessing>.
I am certainly not going to suggest you shouldn’t accommodate someone else and other boundaries on occasion but I will suggest this helps establish the fact you cannot reasonably expect to accommodate everyone 100% … and 100% of the time.
Yeah. This means a person with strong boundaries understands that they may hurt someone’s feelings sometimes, but ultimately they can’t determine how other people feel.
A person with strong boundaries understands that living your own Life with your own boundaries is not about controlling another’s actions, but rather finding people with boundaries that support mutual growth.
A person with strong boundaries understands that … well … freedom is more often than not earned by some restraint and lots of work within the boundaries.
“Boundaries define us.
They define what is me and what is not me.
A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.”
Cloud and Townsend
The world is chock-full of examples of boundaries.
Stop signs, walls, fences <some white picket and some with barbed wire>, well-manicured hedges, traffic lanes, a creative array of signs and well-intended directions printed on everything.
Think about it. The world spends a shitload of effort establishing boundaries to protect people from other people.
Which SHOULD make us think … shouldn’t we also invest a little effort … well … in ourselves to protect ourselves from other people?
And this permits me to end where I began.
I tend to believe 99.9% of people understand the concept of boundaries. And 99.9% of that 99.9% understand establishing boundaries for themselves.
I also tend to believe almost everyone knows they should rule over their own soul & body & Life and building some walls or boundaries helps do that. And, yet, a significant % of that 99.9% … well … aren’t particularly good at setting and keeping boundaries.
My guess is that far too many of us “play it by ear” and “see how it goes” … kind of not setting any firm boundaries but carrying a piece of the fence around with us prepared to set it aside or set it down and say “oh, boundary here.”
Maybe we should invest a little more effort in … well … ourselves. If only to protect ourselves from ourself on occasion. Maybe we should not think of boundaries as constrictive, but rather freeing us from some of the negative things seeking to attach themselves to us.