There are a few ways to define the words boundary or boundaries. I am partial to the definition of boundary as ” a point or limit that indicates where two things become different.” Relational boundaries help set the limits of where we end and another person begins. Without this clear delineation, chaos and attempts to control ensue and that’s never pretty.
Boundaries among people (whether between romantic partners or just two strangers walking past each other in a grocery store) are often the source of confusion and misunderstanding. There have been well known books written about boundaries and many jokes have been told at boundary’s expense.
Why has the concept of people having boundaries received such a bad rap? I think it’s because far too many people fall on either end of the spectrum and exhibit no boundaries and weirdness follows or too rigid execution of their boundaries and weirdness follows. We have all met people who sit on the different ends of the teeter-totter and for us it’s usually not a very pleasant experience. I can honestly say that during the years of my own journey in getting healthier in life, I have been both lacking in boundaries and uber rigid in keeping mine. It is through trial and error that we hopefully come to something of a gray area where boundaries are present and done so in a way that doesn’t immediately put people off to our message of self-care.
With that said though, not all people are going to be happy when we exhibit boundaries; even if our delivery of the boundary is centered and not extreme. Why do people dislike it when we state how we are feeling and what we need? Many people like to operate in a spirit of control and domination. They want what they want and just how they want it. Our opinions (aka boundaries) are a nuisance to their agenda. That doesn’t mean we stop taking care of ourselves though. If we are going to be emotionally balanced people in life, we must get a little more comfortable with not pleasing other people at times. We don’t have a license to intentionally hurt other people or disregard what they need in life and there should be an ebb and flow among people that allows for each person to be recognized, heard and valued as an equal participant.
If you find yourself lacking boundaries or you can see that your delivery of boundaries might be a tad harsh, forgive yourself and start over today. With each opportunity to share openly and honestly how you feel and what your expectations are for any given situation, let balance be your goal and keep working at finding the healthy middle ground. It takes time, practice but most of all a desire to not be on either extreme regarding your boundaries with people.