Boundaries! How many of us have them?
I'll admit that I lacked boundaries majority of my life. Not realizing how much better off my life would be once I created some.
The definition of boundaries according to Merriam-webster: something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent. And once I learned that I'm allowed to set boundaries, my life changed!
For almost 30 years I lived my life attempting to please everyone. It was exhausting. I would feel disappointed when I wasn't able to be there for people or help them. Not realizing I was actually feeling depleted in the end.
So what do boundaries look like? Have you ever gone to a concert and saw the barriers between the front row and the stage? Boundaries! What about when you go to the hospital and it it says "no visitors beyond this point".....boundaries! Now while those are easy to identify boundaries, there are other boundaries that aren't so clear to see and identify. Have you ever been in the kitchen as a child and tried to grab something and your mom popped you without uttering a word? That too is a boundary!
So here I am blogging about boundaries. And let me just say, as an adult, real life boundaries in relationships HURT! Now, understand not all boundaries are bad. But they still hurt. Boundaries, in my opinion, allow me to continue to have a relationship with people, and not cut them off. For example, I am VERY picky about who I let come to my house. Every time I've wavered on that boundary, I've regretted it! I got tired of having to anoint my house after folks leave! So now, no plus ones unless I approve. Imagine me letting someone bring a plus one that I don't know and when everyone leaves something is missing. Guess who I will assume took it? The person I don't know. Not only that but I'll hold the person who invited them equally responsible because how you gone invite a thief to my house? So yeah. I have learned to implement boundaries with my family and friends. Everyone doesn't have the same access to me. I don't share everything I'm going through with everyone.
Some people can't hold water. Speaking of can't hold water, let me be transparent. I have a family member, Linda, who can't hold water if she was standing in an ocean! I had to learn that the hard way. And once I accepted that, I learned that if I didn't want to hear something repeated, I don't tell Linda. I have even told men I dated in the past, "If you plan to propose, don't tell Linda until the day of"....otherwise she gone start calling me telling me to make sure my nails and hair done! Again, I love Linda, but if I don't want it repeated, I don't share with her.
That is one example of how boundaries hurt. Because I would love to tell Linda everything about what's going on in my life. But I realize that's not my reality. And anything I tell her, I have to be okay with her telling others without my explicit permission.
We have to examine every relationship in that way. Because it'll help us determine what type of boundaries to place in relationships with people. Some folks can't hold water. Some folks always complain. Some folks lack empathy. The list goes on.
When I tell you the idea of boundaries is never-ending, I'm not joking. I have certain people I don't give money to. Why? Well I'm glad you asked. Have you ever had someone say "Hey, can I borrow (insert amount)? I'll pay you back next week?" Here a person has requested a specific amount and provided an unsolicited return date. Next week comes and one of two things happens either they don't pay you back....or.....they pay you back only to turn around and ask for more. I'm all for helping people. But I want to help you long term. What are you doing with your finances that you're always short until next week. And if I'm honest, some folks don't like or want that type of help. They just want the money. But I'm not a "just take the money" type of person. Because if you don't want to do the long term work to resolve this problem, my answer will be "No."
I learned that "no." is a complete sentence! Not everyone deserves or is entitled to an explanation. We have to learn to decipher who we give explanations to and who we just say no to. And saying no doesn't feel good. Here is someone in need and I'm able to help but I don't.
Boundaries teach people how to treat you. From letting them know what not to joke about, what you consider disrespect, etc. There are big boundaries and small boundaries. For example, many of may have a default boundary that nobody touches the radio in our car. That's a small boundary. Others may have a boundary that they don't allow others to drive their car. Both are valid boundaries. But some may consider one to be big while considering the other to be small.
Check your boundaries. Check your relationships. Boundaries can be reassessed at anytime and adjusted. As we grow and evolve, boundaries will need to be reviewed. Relationships will have to be reviewed and adjusted as well.