If "boundaries" is a word you've heard being thrown around a lot, but are not exactly sure how it's relevant to you, keep reading.
The dictionary says a boundary is "the line that marks the limit of an area."
Just as we mark out our property lines with fences or walls, in order to function in a healthy way, we all have a need for emotional, intangible boundaries too.
What are boundaries?
I have actually never had boundaries in my life before.
I actually didn’t even know the word, let alone understand the concept.
In short, I was able to respect other people's boundaries, but I lacked the self-respect to extend the same courtesy to my own.
Very simply, I could never say no.
People would walk all over me because I couldn't stand up for myself.
From a young age, I had not been taught it is more than okay to make yourself heard in a respectful way.
This was a skill I had to develop on my own. I also thought having an opposing opinion would make me unpopular and leave me without friends.
After years of being used as a doormat and thinking I had so many great friends in my life, the proverbial sh*t hit the fan.
They were not there to support me the same way I had supported them.
Great friends, right?
Weak boundaries leave us confused. When we have weak boundaries, we lack the ability to distinguish our feelings from the feelings of others.
I felt completely alone after many years of time, energy and effort invested in the wrong kinds of relationships.
As it turned out, pretending I didn’t mind how people treated me was the worst way I could have behaved.
I had the wrong people in my life, was constantly in negative situations and spent a lot of time doing things I didn’t want to be doing.
This way of living left me defenseless, taken advantage of and mistreated by others.
All of this was not a conscious decision. But it was the way I had been living for so long, it seemed unnatural for me to say no.
The reason people treated me badly was because I allowed them to.
I never said no for fear of being disliked or rejected. I was always happy to do things for other people in an effort to please them.
I avoided dealing with my own emotions by tending to other people's instead. I had no real love for myself.
The bottom line is, I did not trust, love or respect myself enough to believe my feelings were worth anything.
For most of us, this is not something we do consciously. We have learned as children that the path of least resistance means less hurt and confrontation for us.
It is a way of coping. It is a technique often developed so young, it seems completely natural.
The fact that boundaries are an essential part of living is the best and hardest thing to learn.
We can’t share healthy relationships without them. Putting boundaries in place is difficult for both you and the people you are now drawing the line with.
Some people don’t like change, and want you to stay the person they have come to know.
For this reason, putting new boundaries in place requires so much strength. Keeping them in place requires even more strength.
As I slowly place new boundaries in my life, I see my real friends in the people who care about them and respect them. Those who were just there for the free ride disappear.
The fun and in-depth process of discovering my own boundaries now leaves me without doubt.
I now know which people and situations compromise my values. I am aware of my own feelings, and I am no longer confused about other people's feelings.
I do not allow the opinions of others to affect or define me. I am willing to put in the hard work to maintain the decisions I have made.
I continue to be consistent with my boundaries.
Understanding the fact that you need boundaries is always the first step in the process. From then on, anything is possible.
You are able to enjoy healthier relationships and friendships.
Make the time you need for yourself to live in a healthier way.