This is for my fellow people pleasers/martyrs who are on a mission to heal and radically transform & empower themselves into the best version of your powerful authentic being.
If this sounds like you, you probably grew up with weak boundaries in your family of origin and consequently struggle to identify what is a healthy boundary as an adult.
You may feel intense guilt or stress about asserting your boundaries or maybe even don’t know what your boundaries are because you didn’t have a hope in developing them in your family of origin.
What exactly are boundaries and why do they sound so rigid? Question… have you been triggered simply by the word, “boundaries”?
Maybe… that’s the internalized voice of whoever trampled your limits as a child?
Boundaries are the emotional, physical, and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They serve to define what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior from those around us. Boundaries help us maintain our integrity, well-being, and personal space, allowing for healthier interactions and relationships.
❤️🩹Emotional Boundaries: These pertain to your feelings and involve separating your emotions from another person's. For example, you can love a family member but still step back if they're emotionally draining.
✋🏼Physical Boundaries: These are related to your personal space and physical touch. Physical boundaries can refer to simple things like your comfort level with hugging or more serious matters like not tolerating physical abuse.
🗣️Intellectual Boundaries: Intellectual boundaries serve as the framework for managing interactions related to our thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. These boundaries involve how we will respond when our ideas are not respected and determine when to engage or disengage from conversations. Consider the following reflective questions:
❔What does respecting ideas and other perspectives mean for me? Specifically, what actions or behaviors from others will signal to me that my ideas are being devalued or dismissed? What proactive steps will I undertake to protect my well-being if this happens?
❔How do I intend to show my acknowledgment and respect for the ideas and perspectives of others?
❔What criteria will serve as a signal for me that it's appropriate to withdraw from a discussion? Will I engage in friendly debates? Can I tolerate heated exchanges, or do I prefer to remove myself before conversations escalate into conflict?
❔What is my strategy for communicating my intention to exit a conversation?
❔How will I articulate the issue if I feel that my ideas are not being recognized or respected?
⌚️Time Boundaries: These relate to how you use your time. Time boundaries can involve allocating specific "me time" or balancing work and personal life.
🔞 Sexual Boundaries: These define your comfort level with sexual touch and activity—what, where, when, and with whom. No one is entitled to your body. Well… Maybe a breastfeeding infant. That is all!!
💲Material Boundaries: These relate to money and possessions, and they help you determine what you're willing to share and with whom.
Setting boundaries requires clear communication, self-awareness, and a commitment to your own well-being. When properly established, boundaries can empower you to make healthier choices and live a more authentic life.
We also have to understand why people violate boundaries. The violation of boundaries can occur for various reasons, often depending on the individual and the nature of the relationship. Here are some common reasons why people might violate boundaries:
🤔 Lack of Awareness: Some people may not even realize they are crossing boundaries. They might not understand social cues or recognize that their actions are intrusive.
😒 Disrespect: Some people knowingly cross boundaries as a show of power or control, indicating a lack of respect for the other person's autonomy.
🤫 Manipulation: In some cases, people violate boundaries to manipulate others emotionally, financially, or physically.
🥺 Neediness or Dependency: Some individuals have trouble recognizing where their needs end and another person's boundaries begin, often because they are seeking validation, emotional support, or other forms of fulfillment.
Narcissism or Self-Centeredness: Individuals who are excessively focused on their own needs may neglect to consider others' boundaries.
🎏 Cultural Differences: In some cases, what is considered a boundary violation in one culture might not be perceived the same way in another.
🧠 Lack of Emotional Intelligence: Some people have difficulty interpreting emotional and social cues, which can lead to inadvertent boundary violations.
😤 Entitlement: A feeling of entitlement can make some people think the rules don't apply to them, leading them to violate boundaries without concern for others.
👨👩👦 Poor Role Models: If someone grew up in an environment where boundaries were not respected, they might not have learned how to respect those of others.
🤏🏼 Testing Limits: Sometimes, people might push boundaries to test limits, either consciously or subconsciously, as a way to gauge the level of commitment or tolerance in a relationship.
You are a beautiful & free human being and if someone’s actions are compromising your well-being/healing journey/violating your principles — you have to distance yourself. Sometimes you’re too close, and backing up allows for increased perspective for both parties. Understanding the reason behind the violation can be helpful in addressing the issue and determining whether the relationship can or should be salvaged.
Reminder: Overly rigid boundaries can be unhealthy just as much as overly permissive ones can be.
Figuring out your boundaries is kind of like a journey into knowing yourself better. Start by thinking about times you felt super uncomfortable or disrespected. What went down that made you feel that way? This can be your first clue about where to set some boundaries.
Next, think about what's really important to you and what you need to be happy and feeling a sense of wellbeing. Your boundaries should help you stick to these values and needs. Listen to your gut — if something feels off, it probably is, and that's a sign to set a boundary there.
Try to be as specific as possible so there's no room for misunderstandings. Instead of saying you need "me time," say something like, "I need an hour to myself after work to recharge."
Talking it out with a friend can also help. They might have some insights that can help you fine-tune your boundaries. Don't stress if you don't get it right immediately, it's okay to tweak things as you go along. Progress and not perfection.
If you find it hard to stick to your boundaries or even to know what they should be, maybe think about connecting with a counsellor. They can give you some tips on setting and maintaining those boundaries.
Keep checking in with yourself, and don't be afraid to change things up as you go along. It's all part of growing and keeping relationships healthy, most importantly the relationship to your self, from which all external relationships flow.
The Team at Operational Stress Recovery Program