They are all around us and in every part of our world. The physical boundary of our home; our bedroom; our work space; our car. They are the white lines in the middle of the road. The double yellow lines that say 'Don't park here' (no, not even when you've left your hazards on to let us know you're the hazard).
The boundaries that are the hardest and the most important for us, are our personal boundaries.
These are the boundaries that we get to set and choose. If we don't we will be shaped by others' boundaries. We won't have set our own, as in the words of Katy Perry, if you stand for nothing then you fall for everything!
This is why we need to check boundaries, especially with our children. What was OK for them when they were 5 will be out of date when they're 15; obsolete at 25.
Once we've set them, we need to protect them!
It's not that we walk around all day checking in with our boundaries, unless you're a psychotherapist like me (it's an occupational hazard - sometimes I have my hazard warning lights on too, just to give my nearest and dearest the heads up) or you're going through an intense period of change, maybe you're recovering from an abusive or narcissistic relationship. Its really important that we take time to review and update our boundaries, so that we can become aware of boundary violators and protect our self esteem.
It's OK to make it a priority to understand what's OK and what's NOT OK for us.
Usually it's when a boundary has been breached, it's an opportunity to consider how that happened. If we think of boundaries as thresholds of what's acceptable and unacceptable for us, like windows and doors to our soul we can check to see if we're leaving them open. It may be OK for a friend to walk into your house without knocking on the door first; would you feel the same if it was a salesman? What about if a friend shares something juicy about another friend? Or you hear something out of context? You get stood up? A colleague hijacks a meeting? A meeting starts late or runs over?
For me, I know if a boundary has been crossed because I get a little 'ugh' inside. It feels uncomfortable and I know it's information that I need to attend to. Even if it's someone else's boundaries, because I've had the 'ugh', that's mine. You see, what other people do, is up to them, what we do with it...that's ours. I could ignore it, and do 'lalalala' but experience has shown me that unless I set or reset the boundary it will come back and bite me. So I have to be clear, for me, otherwise we get resentful, hateful and pissed off (thank you Brene Brown for your insight and wisdom).
Setting clear boundaries means you get to choose your limits. You decide what's ok and what's not ok for you. You are the doorman, you own the guest list. You make it clear what behaviours you are happy with and what you are not. This means that you are living according to your deeper values.
You keep your integrity in tact. You are free to be more compassionate and loving with yourself. I heard from John (not his real name) yesterday, "I like to be a nice guy but it's got me screwed over". Being boundaried is about being nice but not being a doormat. Being nice begins at home, with ourselves. Saying Yes when we mean No, or No when we mean Yes is confusing. A client gave me this gem, "We teach others how to treat us!"
If others around you have loose boundaries or are working on theirs, we're all on a different journey, free your energy up by assuming or presupposing that 'they are doing the best they can, with the resources they have available to them at this moment in time'. This may not seem as though it is true, but by allowing ourselves to have this as an observation point releases us from negative judgement. As one of the NLP presuppositions, this is a slogan that invites transformation. We don't have to agree or disagree, collude or accept; we can become curious about how it is for them, whilst keeping our boundary for us.
Let me know your thoughts or challenges, leave a comment or get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org