BOUNDARIES ARE ALL ABOUT ME!
Updated: Mar 23
Boundaries are not walls to keep people out. Boundaries are forts of comfort that we build for ourselves. Cozy and comfortable forts we live in, even in the face of discomfort, frustration or triggers from others.
Boundaries are the conversation we have with OURSELVES.
Do we matter enough to ourselves to have a difference of opinion or stance from others? Do we approach opposition with fear, guilt and obligation toward another? Or, do we embrace differences because we are secure in what we have decided we want and need?
Opposition and disagreement are inevitable but also healthy. When we tell ourselves otherwise, we build walls to keep others out - and these are not boundaries, they are insecurity barricades.
The difference between an effective boundary and an insecurity barricade is the understanding and intention behind your words. Are you reacting to someone out of fear, guilt or obligation to them, or are you responding to someone after careful consideration of what feels right for you independent of them and their expectations? Often times we think we are setting boundaries when we are in fact building insecurity barricades.
Take for example you are asked to stay and work late. Your body is rushed with anger and frustration. Your mind is full of thoughts about how you are disrespected, and no one takes you into consideration. You think about how you are overworked, as a result you feel frustrated and then you are flooded with feelings of hatred toward your boss. Before you know it, you say no. You then stew on this, you spiral into negative and defensive thoughts about what you did, why you did it, what others think of you, will you be fired, will you be written up etc… You know you are a team player, you are considerate, but in that moment you act in a way that says otherwise. You are not satisfied with how you said no, but you also have too much pride to address this, not to mention fear about what will happen if you bring it up. So now you are bitter. And you try to convince yourself you are strong and happy with your ‘boundary’ but really you are not happy or satisfied. You have a barricade that prevents honest communication with yourself and thus with others.
Then there are those of us who do not dare try and set boundaries. Our insecurity barricades are much more passive. So passive that others don't realize they're there, only we notice them in the form of insecurities: We fear so much what others will think of us when we need or want something different to what they are offering, or what we perceive they want and need, that we silence ourselves. As a result, we stew and ruminate silently. We become ANXIOUS and we create stories about them and how bad or mean they are, or how stupid we are for being in this mess. Even worse, we berate ourselves for not being good enough. We hold assumptions that if we were good enough, the other person would “just know” what we wanted and would give this to us. These create barricades prohibiting connection and problem solving. Why? Because we are creating problems for ourselves, we stay trapped in our minds, spiraling into negativity with no way out.
Boundaries on the other hand ENABLE us to put our needs first. They build confidence. They embrace difference and opposition. This all happens WITHOUT the threat of our worthiness as a person being up for question, or put on the chopping block. When I have healthy boundaries, I really have a healthy connection to myself. My inner dialogue is focused on what I want and need and how rigid or flexible I need to be, or want to be, in any given interaction. I give myself permission to disagree with others, and have a different approach or way forward. I allow myself to opt out when I realize something is not a good fit, and I don’t let those efing negative self-berating thoughts dictate my choices. I say no when I want and need to, and I say yes when I want and need to. Boundaries are SO much about how I talk to myself first and thus what decision I make and how I communicate said decision to others.
So what prevents us from doing this?
Answer: Our thoughts. How we think about ourselves. How we perceive our value and worth. How much power and control we believe we have over our lives. These thoughts dictate how we interact with the word around us:
Are you self-victimizing?
Do you believe that you are worthless and others don’t really want you around
Do you think that life is ‘supposed’ to be one way and if it's not you freak out and write off opportunities that don’t fit your mold?
Do you believe that what you want is only worth wanting if others agree (or seemingly agree) with you?
Do you call yourself negative and critical names when you do not live up to you expectations?
Are your expectations limiting your ability to succeed?
Are you so quick to give up on yourself at the first sign of adversity?
Do you only see the negative and ignore all the positive?
Do you avoid your issues?
Do you predict what someone thinks or expects without any proof or clarification?
Do you assume you know what the outcome will be to a situation of which you have no proof?
Are you acting on your assumptions, and how is this backfiring?
These thoughts (and so many more like them) are toxic. These self-harming insecure thoughts 100% prevent boundaries from being what they are meant to be – by design – a communication method and open dialogue with ourselves, by ourselves, and for ourselves. This dialogue of boundaries is focused on what we need, without judgment and criticism, so that we can be honest with ourselves and come to some understanding and decision before moving forward and communicating said decision to others.
Boundaries are the fort I build for me, so that I can consult with myself about what I need and how I am feeling. Only then do I share that with others. Boundaries allow us to communicate directly what we need from others, rather than explaining ourselves away in hopes of getting what we need.
Let’s look at that same example about working late, from the lens of boundary setting:
You notice your mind rushing with negative thoughts and assumptions about your boss and your team. Because you notice these negative thoughts, you tell yourself that you cannot give an answer just yet. You take time to process and think through your issues. You talk back to these thoughts and you realize that you have some underlying issues at play that are being brought to the surface by the request to work late. You realize that this might not be solved in one night so you verbalize to yourself that whether or not you work late, you are going to have to address the issues below the surface with yourself and eventually your boss in the coming days. So you make your decision. You support yourself in this decision. You make a plan of action, and you move forward.
Boundaries are a mindset, a way of being, a way of evolving. They take time to develop and internalize. It's a lot. I know. Luckily for you they are the foundation of the selfishladies movement, and there will be loads more articles and tips on the topic to coach into change.