Several years ago I went to a seminar so to speak that cost me $300. This really irritated me that I had to pay so much for something I needed so badly. However, I have to admit that learning about boundaries help me and changed my life. I spent so much time and energy trying to take care of things that weren’t my problem and responsibility. Once I gave everyone’s problems back to them it was amazing how light my load got then I could function again.
Boundaries define us and help us and others to understand who we are and to understand our identity. If you had no boundaries, I can assure you that if I asked the question, “Who are you?” You would look at me blank faced and probably be in tears. One of the desires you have is for others to understand who you are, but they can’t because you don’t even know.
You are only responsible for yourself (unless you have little children) but you have responsibilities to others. You are responsible for your feelings, behaviors, attitudes and desires. You can’t lay blame and responsibility on someone else to make you feel a certain way. That’s your problem. If anyone tries to make you responsible for any of these responsibilities, tell them No! You are not responsible to make others feel loved; you are only responsible to love them. Accepting the love is their responsibility. I hear this so many times.
In order for people to know what we like and don’t like and to develop our own identity, then we have to tell them. They can’t read our minds. It was so amazing the first few times I started telling people, “No! I don’t like that;” I was scared to death of what repercussions might come. What I had to do to set boundaries was to realize that when I set a boundary it helped others to grow.
Example: For years there was a supervisor at work that had a tendency to snap at people for little or no reason. Later he would always come back and apologize. Of course everyone would say, “No problem, don’t worry about it.” This of course just gave him permission to do it again and he wasn’t growing out of this poor behavior. One day I decided to give this boundary thing a try. He snapped at me one morning for no reason and the next day he came to apologize. I was ready for him. Long story short I didn’t let him off the hook and he never snapped at me again. This helped him to grow some too.
The biggest reason we do not like to set boundaries is not because we fear hurting others, but because we fear hurting ourselves. I didn’t want to tell people, No. Not just because I feared confrontation and I feared they might not like me anymore, but because it hurt me. The reason we don’t want to tell our children no is because we don’t want to hurt ourselves or have to deal with the hardship of making the No stick. If you can ever grasp this one principle I promise you it will change your life.
What if my husband is beating me? I’ve told him No so many times it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Then it’s time for a bigger no. Call the police, have him arrested and thrown in prison. Then he’ll understand, No! This is where they usually say, “What am I going to do about money and the kids seeing their daddy hauled off to jail and blah, blah, blah.” I never said it would be easy, but you have to make a choice to decide what you really want.
There lies the bottom line. How bad do I want change? If you haven’t come to the point yet you’re willing to do anything, then you haven’t reached the point of being able to set boundaries. I have to be honest and say it wasn’t easy for me at first, but I started with little things and got better at it over the years.
Boundaries isn’t just telling other people No, but also telling yourself No. Such as, I will not let others hurtful remarks control me, I will not make others responsible to make me feel loved or I will not hold others responsible for my feelings and emotions. It’s very freeing to not allow others to control every aspect of your life. Just remember it takes time to learn so don’t expect to conquer this in a few situations.