“In order to thrive and be successful, you have to set boundaries”
Oh boundaries. I’m not sure what comes to mind for you when I say the word, but for me, I had no idea what they even were till about a year or so ago, and when I learned, they seemed a little mean and selfish. But as I started actually learning about what healthy boundaries look like & are, and setting them with myself, my relationships, my time, and my work, I realized they’re actually loving, life giving, and essential for thriving.
Boundaries define us, showing where I end and you begin, and therefore leading to ownership. They’re all about taking responsibility for you, what you can control, and what you’re responsible for, along with not taking responsibility for others, what they’re responsible for, and what you can’t control. Others are responsible to us, not for us, and we’re responsible to others, not for them. It seems simple, but I’ve been shocked at how rampant boundary issues are, as well as how many I had, after understanding healthy boundaries!
We have limited amounts of time and energy. While we’re meant to love and help others, there are boundaries and qualifications around that. We’re first responsible for ourselves and our responsibilities. This ties into my self-care blog post… you can’t pour from an empty cup. Proper boundaries protect and prioritize that. They also refuse to try to control or take responsibility for someone else. While we’re meant to help someone else as we’re able when life throws a curve ball, we’re not meant to take on someone else’s responsibilities for them. Nor are we meant to absorb or take the consequences and/or blame of someone else not taking care of their responsibilities, help others to the detriment of ourselves, manage other people’s emotions for them, or allow them to project their unresolved issues or unhealthy reactions onto us. Annnnd vice versa.
We’re each responsible for our emotions, processing and regulating them, asking for what we want, expressing our feelings, thoughts, and hurt, dealing with the consequences of not fulfilling our own responsibilities, following through with our yes’s and no’s, but also saying them for the right reasons which should be rooted in your values, your worth, your capacity, and your purpose… and we’re responsible for accepting others boundaries when we don’t do these things, as well as setting our own boundaries when others don’t do these things.
A simple example… if your roommate is constantly not going to class or doing their homework, then putting the problem on you by having a meltdown and asking you to give them the answers, this is their own boundary problem. They need to develop better boundaries in their own life, and you taking responsibility for their homework (their responsibility) is not healthy. In fact, I’d say it’s the opposite of loving them. It’s enabling. Experiencing the consequences of not taking care of responsibilities is what fuels growth and change, things that help better us and our resulting life. Sparing someone from the consequences of their lack of responsibility and boundaries is harmful to them. However, if their family member dies or gets sick, and they miss some classes resulting in struggling with their homework, that’s when if you are able, help them. If you have the time, teaching what you learned in the classes that they missed could be loving them. If you don’t holding a boundary around the time you need to pass your classes is important, but maybe sharing your notes is a way you can love them while still fulfilling your own responsibilities. Real love for others is rooted in healthy boundaries.
Boundaries aren’t just throwing up walls, when people make us uncomfortable, they’re thoughtful, loving protection from unhealthy thinking and action that lead to healthy relationships.
This is such a deep topic with so much to explore, but if you struggle with saying yes or no, or even knowing when to say which, people pleasing, taking on other people’s problems or responsibilities, running late, getting taken advantage of or mistreated, over eating/drinking/spending, constantly being at the mercy of others, or just generally feeling out of control of your life, boundaries with yourself and/or others will change your life.
They take work, and often one or more strong supports in your life to build them, as boundaries are built, not inherited. But proper boundaries keep the bad out and let the good in; they help us thrive. I’ve been reading Dr. Henry Cloud’s book ‘Boundaries’ and just bought his books ‘Boundaries in Dating’ and Boundaries for Leaders’, and have learned so much already. As a Christian, I’ve appreciated how the book highlights false narratives perpetuated in many Christian circles and shows how the Bible actually aligns wonderfully with modern, positive psychology. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a book on Boundaries!
One of my biggest takeaways from 2020 was the importance of boundaries. I know I just scratched the surface, so if you want to chat more about them, don’t know if you have good ones and/or how to set them, comment below or DM/email me! I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I’m here for you guys; I love chatting with and getting to know you better. Use me as a resource! 🙂
(I do want to add on this note: if you’re being abused in a relationship, verbally, emotionally, and/or physically, please please please tell someone and get yourself out of the abuse. Physical and emotional space are the appropriate boundaries in those circumstances, but it’s so hard, often impossible, to do on your own when you’re the victim. You deserve better and you deserve help getting it. Sending love xx)