If you have grown up with weak boundaries it can be difficult to put them in place as an adult, because being boundaryless is your normal. Also you may believe that there is no point having boundaries because in your experience people do not respect them. This can also be linked to not speaking our truth. You may witness an injustice or believe that you are being treated unfairly and find it difficult to say anything. Even though you are now an adult, some triggering situations can make you feel like you have reverted to being a child.
Toxic parents often diminish or ignore boundaries that their children have, especially if the boundary is not in their favour. They can be self- centered and put their needs ahead of others, any transgressions from the child is met with passive aggression, silent treatment or labelled as selfish. Growing up I was called selfish regularly, it really upset me that my mother thought I was so selfish and it was a name that I endeavoured to never be called again in my adult life. This in turn made me a great candidate for being a people- pleaser. Many years later I discovered that manipulative people often call others selfish in order to get their way, this helped me to change the beliefs that I had about myself.
There is a wealth of information on how to build healthy boundaries, click here to read my previous article. When you build boundaries they should not be rigid because you have to allow room for change, we grow, our beliefs change and so do situations.
Respecting the Boundaries of Others
Once you have boundaries in place your work is not complete, you then need to ensure that you respect the boundaries of others. We can often neglect this part and it is very important. You need to ask yourself:
- If someone says “no” to you, do you receive it as a full sentence or do you demand that they give you a further explanation?
- Can you accept someone else’s boundary without becoming angry and feeling that they are deliberately irritating you?
- Do you ask invasive questions and ignore cues from the other person that they are feeling uncomfortable?
- Do you overshare details of situations that you have been through, even though you do not know the other person that well, or they may not want to hear the intricate details?
- Do you sulk, give the silent treatment, or become passive aggressive when someone disagrees with you?
- Know that you are not responsible for how others receive your boundaries, similarly no one is responsible for how you fee about theirs.
- Know where you end and others begin, this is especially true if you are a parent. Your children have their own boundaries too.
- Do you give unsolicited advice?
- You should always pay attention to body language when you are in conversation with someone. If someone has their arms folded, or if they shrink away from you, this is not an invitation to move closer or keep touching their arm.
- Be present and listen fully when someone is speaking to you. Codependents can get in the habit of being quiet, whilst they think about what they are going to say next, this is not listening.
Having boundaries will help you to feel grounded, stable and fulfilled. It shows that you are improving you self love and increasing your self worth. When you truly appreciate the ways that boundaries improve your life, you will not want to deprive other of this feeling by not respecting their boundaries.
How do you find keeping your boundaries in place? Are you a boundary boss or are you still trying to find your way? I would love to hear your thoughts.