Most parents, teachers, and other authority figures teach children to be kind and loving. In fact, the elementary school my children attend selected the phrase, “Choose Kind” as the yearly theme not long ago. Likewise, most religions teach followers to be kind, love, sacrifice, and serve others. In some instances, placing one’s self last and others first remains core to its theology, even at the expense of your own health and wellness.
Unfortunately, without caring for yourself, you leave yourself exposed to others who take advantage of you and leave you too exhausted to continue to love well. Likewise, you may put yourself in risk of physical harm.
Although it is important to be kind and loving to others, it is important to set boundaries in order to maintain your own safety, health, and well-being. Boundaries keep people from taking advantage of you and establish and maintain your right to be human. Otherwise, people who have no boundaries take advantage of you and create unhealthy attachments or dependence on you. Therefore, it is critical to learn what healthy boundaries are, define them for yourself, and set them so others won’t dehumanize you.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SET BOUNDARIES WITH OTHERS?
Here are a few important aspects of setting boundaries with others:
- It creates space to be your unique, autonomous and free, individualized self.
- It clarifies your morals, needs, and standards that will help you live your best self.
- It provides emotional and physical space between you and the other person, so codependency or unhealthy relationship is not created.
- It provides a clear line of where you end and the other person begins; where you begin and the other person ends.
- It clarifies to yourself and the other person the line in which you will not allow anyone to cross.
- It identifies the negative impact that someone had who crossed the line in the past.
- It clearly defines limits within which you are free to be yourself. with no restrictions imposed by others as to how to think, feel or act.
- Setting boundaries protects you from allowing toxic people into you life, or from having control over your life if they are already present.
Next week, we will look at way to set healthy boundaries. Until then, begin thinking about people in your life that push your boundaries. Have you set clearly defined boundaries for them? Have you determined what your boundaries are? Is that person clear on what they are? Can you enforce those boundaries?