What is a boundary?
In order to better understand what a boundary is, let’s talk about what it is NOT.
A boundary is not a concrete rule – it is fluid and can change.
A boundary is not a wall- it is a parameter or guideline that protects your growth, energy + well being.
A boundary is not about others- it is a personal responsibility and ownership.
[Some common boundaries involve time, physical touch, love, energy and money.]
Fears/Myths associated with Boundaries:
Can I set limits and still be loving?
Won’t I appear selfish?
What if I hurt or anger them?
Why do I always feel so guilty?
I hope after reviewing the video and reading this recap, you will find clarity and confidence to overcome these myths and fears. (video is linked below!)
Often children aren’t modeled appropriate boundaries.
ex) Perhaps as a child you felt (and still feel) responsible for your parents happiness.
ex) Maybe your parents shared with you details of an affair or their marital problems.
ex) Or you often felt pressured to hug, kiss or extend affection to others, even when you expressed discomfort in doing so.
ALL of these above are violations of your boundaries. When your boundaries weren’t respected as a child, you will eventually come to believe that you aren’t worthy of them as an adult. This leads to distrusting your own instincts. If as a child you weren’t seen or heard for your truth, your truth gets denied and eventually buried.
As a parent, you will also repeat this. We repeat what we don’t repair. It is hard to extend and respect boundaries of others (your children included) when you have zero boundaries for yourself. This creates a cycle of chaos, resentment, and a constant desire to control or fix others through manipulation, fear and shame.
Granted vs. Created Freedom:
In a perfect world, a parent grants freedom through boundaries. They model their own boundaries, and also respect the boundaries of their child. Biggest challenges that the parent-child relationship faces include financial independence, when a child moves away for college, starts a new job, gets married, or has a baby and family of their own. Granted freedom is a practice a parent models that does not include guilt, manipulation or anger to get what they want.
The reality is however, most children are not granted freedom. Boundaries are blurred, enmeshed family systems occur, and coping skills like addiction, people pleasing, and codependency begin. It is a hard, sticky cycle to break free from. Created freedom is the first step.
Created freedom is what must take place when a child grew up in a home without any granted freedom. Here, they work to create their own independence, maintain + manage boundaries to ensure their growth and peace, and slowly become their own person aside from their family of origin.
Steps to create freedom:
- GET QUIET – your body is always sending you messages. When you begin to tune into what it is telling you, you will then better respond to your own needs with boundaries. Instead of fearing a racing heart, sweaty palms, anger, or a stomach ache, begin to raise your awareness and ask “what is my body telling me right now?” Here you can begin to create your own safety and freedom.
- GET CLEAR – check your motivations before setting a boundary. It is okay to feel anger, disappointment, and sadness. However it is crucial you are setting a boundary for the right reasons. Destructive motivations include: trying to teach someone a lesson, working to change someone, wanting to punish, trying to elicit a reaction, people pleasing, or engaging in drama. Look to instead use constructive motivations to ensure you are clear on your boundary. These include wanting to feel safe, respected, supported, independent, at peace, free of chaos, and growth. Remember, clear is kind.
- GET BRAVE – after you have gotten quiet and clear, it is time to get brave. Deliver on your boundary (either physically or verbally) in a kind, clear and consistent way. This will depend on the situation, and takes practice. Resist what I call “THE LOOP AROUND:” Here, you have delivered the boundary and perhaps received feedback that isn’t pleasant. Maybe they are angry, they withdrawal, or they begin to guilt you. In this phase, it is easy to “loop around” to seek validation, support, or acceptance from them. We as humans never like to be in conflict or have any loose ends, but part of this work is becoming okay with just that. Whatever it is, do not panic and abort your boundary. Learn to detach from their response and sit in the discomfort instead.
The choice is always yours. But I can promise you, with practice and awareness- it is worth it. You and your relationships are worth it.
If you missed the LIVE video, click you can view it here. You are welcome to save it and share this email with a friend. I appreciate you and am always rooting for you.
Yours in healing,