Boundaries is a concept I never thought consciously about until I started working in the field of eating disorders. Probably because I am surrounded with so many therapists who have taught me the importance that boundaries play in our lives.
Now as a toddler mom it’s more apparent than ever the role that boundaries play – because mine are constantly being tested.
Boundaries are present in our lives in ways that we don’t even realize. But it’s funny how when you start talking to people about boundaries they initially get very uncomfortable.
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. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options. Boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out. Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for your choices. You are the one who makes them. You are the one who must live with their consequences. And you are the one who may be keeping yourself from making the choices you could be happy with. We must own our own thoughts and clarify distorted thinking.”
― Henry Cloud,
Some of my recent reflections on boundaries:
- They don’t always feel good – to the boundary setter or receiver. We generally don’t like saying no or hearing it ourselves. The first time we set a boundary with someone in our life who is not used to it, there may be some anger on their part. That doesn’t mean that your setting of the boundary was wrong.
- Boundaries are there to protect us. Like Dr. Cloud says above: “Boundaries keep the good in and the bad out.”
- The act of setting boundaries is a skill that we must practice in order to master. The more we do it, the easier it gets.
- Eventually, many of the things we set boundaries around become the precedent or the norm, and it no longer feels forced or uncomfortable. This is why consistency and repetition with our boundaries is so crucial. People shouldn’t have to wonder where your boundaries are. As Dave Ramsey has said in his leadership teaching, “To be unclear is to be unkind.”
- My own boundaries are waaaay to permeable much of the time. (ugh) Therefore, I must keep practicing and defining what my limits are in each area of my life. Hey, I’m human too!
The best place to start setting boundaries is the area that you feel the most drained and/or resentful. Think of the resentment as a gift, letting you know that the boundary is needed and would ultimately feel good once in place. Where do you need to set a boundary this week?