Boundaries are invisible property lines, invisible fences that define where my property begins and where my property ends. They show people where my responsibility for me begins and where my responsibility for others ends. ~ Cloud and Townsend
Healthy boundaries are a essential part to every day life in your interactions with others. They help us to know what we want in our lives and what we do not. Sometimes we are not taught good boundaries from our Family of Origin (FOO), so it is difficult to know if we are having healthy boundaries. Why is it important to have good boundaries? Having healthy boundaries allows us to care for ourselves, accomplish our goals, and have a good self concept. This week we will learn more about what healthy boundaries look like.
1) Understanding the 4 different types of boundaries and how they affect your life.
Physical boundaries – These are the property lines. These are your possessions, how you care for yourself , and who you let into your person bubble. This is the fence that separates me from you. These are the external boundaries that exist between two people. Whenever your physical boundaries are crossed this affects every other type of boundaries, and can lead people to have unhealthy, limited, or loose boundaries that hurt them. If you relate to this, it is possible for you to find a help to turn this pattern around.
Emotional boundaries- These allow you to have your own feelings and mean that no matter what you are feeling, it is valid. However, you are not allowed to impose those feelings on another person. It is our responsibility to learn how to handle our own feelings, so that we do not dump them on other people. This is sometimes difficult if you are unaware of how to do this. Remember if the words “you made me feel this way” come out of your mouth, or you lash out at someone because your feelings are hurt; this is a sign that you are not handling your own emotional boundaries. A good way to begin handling your own emotions is to begin practicing self compassion.
Mental boundaries- These allow you to think, make decisions, and form your own opinions. These boundaries help you to reject things that do not work for you, so that you can keep yourself safe and protected from negative influences. These are used when you are debating with someone or having a disagreement. This is the boundary that allows you to “agree to disagree”.
Spiritual boundaries- These have to do with your belief in something greater than you and get to be defined by you and only you. When these boundaries are damaged, the person tends to play God and try to control everything around them. When these boundaries are broken the individual tends to not trust that universe is taking care of them. These boundaries allow you to explore what your calling is in life and explore your gifts and talents that you were born with.
2) What do your boundaries look like?
When talking about boundaries, it is important to identify what they look like in your life so that you can see if you need to work on them. Let’s use the metaphor of a rooms in a house to explain each type.
This type of boundary allows people that you choose into your personal space. You have a structure built so that there is door, a window, and four walls. The door only has a knob on one side so that you can keep people out whom are unhealthy for you to have in your life. There is a window, so that you can see who is coming and if you want to let them in or not. You are aware of what you want and need in your life. You respect that you do not have to let everyone into your life.
This structure looks similar to the last has four walls, a door, and a window. The thing that has changed is that the door knob is on the outside, which means other people have the control to decide what you experience. This is an example of when you allow other people to dictate what will happen in your life, and what you need to work on. This is a very passive and does not empower the person. You are the person that is forever adjusting to another person’s plans and is usually stretched too thin. You only have time for yourself when you are not “on call.”
This house the walls are in disrepair: the door is broken, the window is shattered. You are overwhelmed and have too much on your plate. You are the rescuer for everyone; you are a door mat. People are abusive to you. Usually this person turns to addiction to cope with all the stress and abuse they are enduring. You have little time for yourself or self care.
This house has thick walls, there are no windows or doors. This person has been hurt in the past, so they no longer allow anyone in. You have become emotionally unavailable, so that no one can hurt you again.
Usually we are a mix of two or several of these types of boundaries in the various different areas in our life. So that you can take stock of what they look like, take a few minutes to journal about these areas: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual boundaries.
3) Healthy Boundaries are about understanding what is your responsibility and what is not.
Sometimes we get involved in situations that are not our business. Maybe two friends or family members get into a disagreement, and they are at an impasse and they stop talking. Then one of them tries try to rope you into this situation by talking to you about it and convincing you to talk to the other person for them. It gives you a sense of importance because they need your help, but the one person begins to use you as a go between to send messages to the other person. You begin to feel stressed by the situation and depleted.
Why do you feel this way? This is an example of unhealthy boundaries; it is triangulation. Triangulation occurs in situations where a limit has been placed and the other person attempts to violate the boundary by means of a third person, so basically your trying to be helpful, but this is an instance where you have no business in the situation.
A good way to not get into this situation again is to ask yourself: ” Can this be conveyed to the person directly, instead of by me?” Also, see how what is being asked of you makes you feel. Do you feel uneasy? Do you feel burdened by this request? If the answer is yes, it is always okay to tell the person that you are not available to do that favor. Also, another one of my favorite questions is: “Is this my business, or does it even involve me, or am I making it my problem?” Remember that other people’s problems are theirs. We can help support them, but we can not fix those problems for them. If we follow this rule of thumb, we will experience much more freedom in our lives.
4) No is a complete sentence.
This statement is from the author Anne Lamont. I love this quote because it is so true. When we are drawing boundaries just saying no is enough of an answer. Why and explanations are not necessary. No means no. This may seem harsh especially if you are a recovering people pleaser. However, you are allowed to say no whenever a request does not fall in line with your physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual boundaries.
Remember you are a treasure. You get to define who gets to be in your presence and who you want in your life. Is it time to rebuild parts of that house that you reside in? If you want to learn more about boundaries or need more help in this area, please think about attending my workshop this weekend. Or contact me directly to schedule a session firstname.lastname@example.org or 323.515.2278.
I wish you a beautiful, blessed week. May you be well, may you be safe and may you be free.
Photo: Staring into Space by Serge