What are Boundaries, exactly? Boundaries are clear, precise, unwavering lines drawn in the sand around you that let’s other people know how you engage in the world, how you expect to be treated, and what the ramifications are if those boundaries are not met. Now, I know that sounds kind of harsh and highly uncomfortable but that quintessentially is what boundaries are about. They let people know right off the bat what is allowed by you and what is not. It isn’t a license to act like a fool and think you can call the shots and not take responsibility, veritably, it is the exact act of taking responsibility for your actions and making others accountable for their actions. Boundaries state how you expect to be treated, how you treat people in return, and what are the consequences for their actions. If we don’t have at least some kind of thought about how we want to be treated and what is acceptable and what is not then it gives people free reign to walk all over you. You are allowing it to happen and it will continue to happen until you create healthy and effective boundaries.
One of the biggest obstacles I faced in sobriety and even more so in my drinking is that I didn’t have healthy limitations with people. I said and did things I am not proud of. I engaged in behavior that was not cool and I hurt people. I also allowed myself to become almost like a doormat; I allowed people to mistreat me and I accepted the abuse. I almost expected it. I had been treated badly by men my whole life what was one more? I had unhealthy boundaries’ at my jobs as well; out of scarcity I allowed myself to be worked into the ground like a dog. I let my bosses talk to me like shit and then gobble up the scraps they fed me because I felt like I had to. I stayed with a boyfriend who cheated on me repeatedly because I felt that I was doing something wrong to make him cheat. Do you know that it is 30 years later and when I spoke to him last he was cheating on his 3rd wife! I stayed in an unhealthy marriage because I couldn’t see that I was worth more. I let “friends’’’ use me because I was too afraid of not having any.
Lately, I have allowed a whole bunch of activity, from multiple arena’s, to go on because I didn’t stand up for myself from the beginning. I have felt that I would be causing trouble for someone else, I kept hoping it would just stop, but it has gotten so much worse. I have allowed myself to be talked about like some kind of 2.00 whore that was dragged in off the street. That’s the heart of it, I allowed myself to experience all of these things, because I did not have clear, precise, unwavering lines drawn in the sand saying what is acceptable and what is not. This is a huge step in my spiritual and personal growth albeit a painful one. I know that God/The Universe is guiding me to address this situation once and for all.
Now you may ask “What do I do carry around a 3×5 card and hand it to people and say hey, this is how I want o be treated?” Well, not exactly but kind of! I have a whole coaching session for boundaries but this is a good starter exercise. I recommend doing this after the anger and hurt has subsided some, but allow for a little of the passion to resonate. Let’s begin with your biggest boundary issue. Sit and think what about your current situation is bothering you. Begin writing out what has happened and why you feel the way you do. Begin your list by writing all the things you don’t like about it and how it makes you feel.Then begin thinking about your own character and how you show up in the world, what is it people see and experience through you? What about you needs some adjusting? Write down those ideas too. Nothing is ever all someone else’s fault. Make a list of the ways you want to shift your thinking, what thoughts empower you, what make you feel good about yourself? Write down all your emotions.
Then on a nice piece of paper, or even a 3×5 card if you wish write down your boundaries. For example;
- I will not allow “———–“ to say those things to me anymore and if she does then “———-“ is going to happen.
- I will not allow my” ————-“ to scream and holler at me in front of people anymore and if they do”………” will happen.
- I will not allow”————-“ to damage my life through gossip and lies and if it continues”—————“ will happen.
For this to be effective you must create a consequence you know you will follow through on or else it won’t work. They will call your bluff, immediately! You have to create an action you know you can deliver. I know it is so hard. I know it’s easier to just say ‘Oh well it’s ok bla, bla bla…” Enough, it’s time to get tough and let them know you are serious. You don’t have to scream at them, but it may require working past your comfort level. You may feel a huge stretch as you step even further into your greatness, but God/The Universe is with you every step of the way. May I suggest prayer, or meditation, or some kind of focal exercise to create and enact the process,
Once complete tape it to your bathroom mirror or kitchen cabinet. Make a copy an put it in your car. Put one in your purse, in your wallet, anywhere you can see it, place a copy. The more the Mind sees it and hears it, it begins to believe it. It can be a terrifying encounter the first time you step up to the plate. You can state your case calmly and clearly and be prepared for a whole lot of emotion from that person or group of people. Often, they may not be aware of their actions or they get angry and upset because they got caught. You don’t have to go into any great explanations just state your feelings. You may even want to practice with a friend to gain confidence. In time your faith and self esteem will build but it’s a start to stop the madness as I call it.
It’s kind of like Al-Anon for the alcoholic or drug addict during an Intervention. If they don’t choose sobriety then they are cut out of the the family and left to fend for themselves. That encourages the addict to seek treatment in rehab faster because now they have no support. Creating boundaries encourages others to treat you with respect because if they don’t there are consequences to pay. When people see you changing, they then are forced into change and it causes a ripple effect out in the Universe. It causes other people to treat you with respect as well and it grows and grows and grows until you are healthy, happy and confident! It takes time but it does happen! You didn’t get in this position overnight, you will not solve it overnight either.
People do not have to like you, but they do not have the right to disrespect you. Ever.
January 15, 2014 at 12:33 PM
That is a great, I like the simplicity and how it cuts to the chanse in this. It is not a long process and it is simple.
Follow through is key, In the process of follow through you put the problem back with the person who owns it. You do not take ownership for anybody’s behaivor other than your own. The thing that people forget about this is there is no shame attached to taking care of yourself. If you don’t who will?
January 15, 2014 at 5:05 PM
Exactly! if we don’t learn at some point to stand up for ourselves it only enables other people to take further advantage of us. I know for some people, especially women it is incredibly difficult to say no. I have read countless articles just about learning to say no, let alone creating boundaries for themselves. We have a log way to go but any action forward is a positive action. Don’t wait, just begin it!