8 Reasons Why We Need Boundaries for our Relationships
Setting boundaries for our relationships can be a stressful and uncomfortable thing to do. But, we need boundaries. Without them we become doormats, no matter how much our family or friends love us. Setting boundaries is part of establishing healthy relationships. So best to get it out of the way!
This is about finding a balance between what works for us and what works for the other people in our lives. You can call it a balance of power if you will. Essentially this is what is happening; we are making sure the power is not leaning more towards one party. It is about developing a relationship based on mutual respect. One where both parties can thrive and be happy.
When Boundaries Are Weak
We have this problem when, for example, one person always makes the decisions in the family. Where to go for dinner. When to invite friends around for a visit. What to prioritize the monthly budget on. Whatever it may be, when one person is predominantly making these decisions it means there is a boundary that is being crossed. Why would I assume that? Because, unless you are living on your own, there are always different perspectives to take into account. This means open communication and respect are needed in ALL decisions that affect both parties.
Every family has the ‘multiple personalities’ issue. We all want what we want! We don’t want to be told what to eat or what to wear. While a little bit of flexibility is required in all relationships, there have to be boundaries or our sense of self and individuality will become lost. Weak boundaries result in people feeling unseen, misunderstood and disrespected. Although it may be tricky for all members of a four member family for example to feel equal, without setting our boundaries that balance of power is sure to be slightly off.
1. Commanding Respect
While the initial stage of setting boundaries, ie. putting your foot down, may be hard the resulting respect gained from it will be worth it. When we have allowed (yes I said allowed) someone to take advantage of us for many years it becomes really difficult to change the pattern. Suddenly speaking up for yourself can shock people. They may even be irritated. Where has the pushover they know and love gone to?
But, if you talk it out and explain your point of view while staying firm in your new boundary, they will develop a new respect for you. It may take time and some repeating (or pushing home the point), but there is something quite powerful about standing up for yourself. People sit up and pay attention. They take you seriously. In other words, you have earned their respect by not allowing yourself to sit quietly in the corner.
2. Establishing Self Respect
Standing up for yourself is a big deal. And boundaries are tricky because a lot of the time our lack of boundaries come from a good place. We want to please the people we love. We want to be there for them, be seen as that ‘go-to’, reliable figure in their lives. A wonderful ideal, but more often than not it causes problems. And, you can’t even blame your family and friends for taking advantage of you because you set the standard!
When you realize that it doesn’t make you ‘less than’ to say no to one more bake sale, school chaperone outing or one more work function, you can learn to say no. There’s nothing helpful about being burnt out! Learning to set boundaries that allow you to be at your best more of the time will ultimately help you to develop your own self respect. Take that feeling of being the ‘no.1 ….. insert role here’ and quadruple it. That’s what it feels like when you put your foot down and take your power back. Plus, it’s a confidence boost to boot! You know. One of those ‘What? I did that?’ kind of moments.
3. Don’t Lose Yourself in the Crowd
What I mean by this is losing your identity to the family, work, community identity. Becoming part of a whole instead of sticking to your individuality. This happens when living for the good of the whole becomes a priority and you forget about what makes you you. You forget what fuels you. So, if you love music but haven’t picked up a guitar for 20yrs then you’ve dropped the ball on your boundaries somewhere along the line and gotten lost in the crowd.
Becoming a parent is often when this happens to a lot of us. We do all the things we need to, and want to do, for the sake of a happy family. The problem is this can become the new norm and before you know it you’ve forgotten what the world looked like before you had kids. Setting a boundary that allows you your me time will help you stay connected to yourself, and ultimately more emotionally well balanced. Losing your identity is a terrible feeling, so make space for what matters to you as a person so that you can show up as a whole, happy individual for your loved ones.
4. Making Important Decisions Authentically
This is along the same vein as disappearing into the crowd because, again, you lose your own identity. You make decisions that work for others (great!) but not necessarily for you. Setting these boundaries for relationships are very much needed in areas where you need to make major life decisions. Examples of this would be where you study after school, or what career to pursue. Choosing to be a parent, or what city to settle down in. These decisions cannot be made because eg. your great aunt thinks you need to live close to Mum and Dad.
Your life choices need to be made because of what your personal values and desires are calling you to. Consider whether you are making important decisions authentically or not. Do you need to set some boundaries in around these major life choices?
5. Self-Care Doesn’t Get Labelled a Luxury
When you set clear boundaries about the need, and importance, of looking after yourself, ie. a Self-Care boundary, you make it clear that your self-care matters. It is not the luxury that people make it out to be. This is way more important than we give it credit for. Head over and read my blog on Self Love – No. One Goal: Learn To Love Yourself
It’s quite simple. When we feel like our own self-care isn’t important we feel like we aren’t important. This creates an emptiness inside. We cannot be happy because we feel empty. But, if we establish boundaries around the simple act of taking good care of ourselves and the people in our lives respect that, we feel acknowledged (and just plain gooood!).
6. Protecting Your Emotional Wellbeing
When you set boundaries in relationships, you send a message to them about what is important to you. This has an impact on your emotional wellbeing. You feel safe, respected and loved when people honour your boundaries. It is easy for us to understand how we need to treat others, but somehow we don’t quite get what are own needs are. We need to realize that without clear boundaries for our relationships, our emotions are swirling around like they’re in a washing machine. Setting boundaries helps us manage our expectations (for both parties involved) and this helps us to balance (to stabilize) our emotions.
With this comes a calmer, happier you. No more bitter, grumpy, un-heard you! When last did you stop yourself when someone jumped in on a decision and made it for you? When last did you tune in to how your body and mind reacted in that moment? My guess is, if you were paying attention, that your body tensed up and you had an emotional reaction in your head that you promptly shut down. Am I close? This is the Peacemaker in you, trying to avoid conflict. The problem with this is you avoid conflict at your expense. Not a healthy habit to get into!
7. Stand Up For Your Values
Let’s use the example of someone who is always late when it is a personal value of yours to be punctual. Setting a boundary around being punctual is important because it matter to you and your values. It might not be important to them, but it matters to you. Not only does it make you feel respected when someone acknowledges this boundary, it also makes you feel good about being true to yourself. Your personal values are, naturally, really important to set boundaries around.
Other examples of this would be a friend inviting themselves to stay and overstaying their welcome or someone borrowing money and not paying it back. These are personal values and when someone disrespects them they are showing disrespect for you. But, they can only be crossing a boundary if they know that there is one! Aah! This is the tricky part. If you want your friends and family to respect your boundaries, you kind of have to set them! Take the time to think about your personal values and where someone might have ‘crossed the line’ with you before. This is where you will need to do the difficult job of setting that boundary so that it doesn’t happen again, and again.
8. Free To Be You
Once you have evaluated your personal values and set your boundaries accordingly you can settle in to your new life. Life can be lived both more authentically and more by your own design. You don’t have be the people pleaser or the go to person all the time. You can still take on this role, but only when you choose, and after you’ve looked after your own wellbeing first. You can let go of the guilt and know that you deserve to live a balanced life with clear, respected boundaries.
Boundaries don’t set you free, that’s ridiculous! If this is what you are thinking I want you to realize that boundaries absolutely can set you free. Boundaries are your very own set of rule that you create for the people in your life. These rules are what you establish as non-negotiables for you to live life by your design. There may be a crack in your boundary wall now and then but putting it up will help free you to live the way you choose.
Boundaries, Not Barriers
Setting your boundaries in relationships is NOT going to be easy. But, it will be worth it. Once the people in your life understand and accept your boundaries, you will find a new sense of freedom to be authentic. You no longer live your life for everyone else but yourself.
People seem to believe that setting boundaries means firmly telling everyone in your life that you come first and everyone else must wait. Basically, it is seen as selfish. But, the funny thing is, actually, when we respect ourselves enough to give just some of our time to ourselves, we end up having the time and inclination to be there even more for the people in our lives. Why? Because we don’t feel locked in and committed to everyone else’s lives. We are pouring from a full cup! This is the way we should be living, don’t you think?
Thank you for being here and reading my blog, I hope you have found it helpful!