What is a boundary? A boundary is the line where you end, and others begin. Boundaries are the guidelines that let others know how to treat you and how you will respond if someone pushes those limits.
Boundaries were a very difficult thing for me to master for two reasons. The first is because when you start setting boundaries, it upsets those who are used to treating you however they want. The second reason is it costs you relationships because some people are not willing to respect those boundaries in order to have a relationship with you.
An example I would like to share is about my 38-year friendship with my best friend in the world. For 38 years, I was always there for her, including a 20-year addiction she had with crack cocaine.
I called, I took her food, I kept in close contact with her son, when she would disappear I would go look for her, I took her to appointments, she stayed at my place sometimes. I did all this because I loved her and wanted to support her.
She finally got clean and I was so excited thinking we could really be good friends again, but that didn’t happen like I expected. Over time, she became very verbally and emotionally abusive. She would scream, cuss, yell, and call me names and then she would always come back and say, “I’m sorry” and make excuses why she did what she did. She’s my friend so I have to forgive her, right?
Next time she came at me with all that nonsense, I was ready for her. I had researched boundaries and had all mine written out bullet by bullet. I started by telling her I loved her and that I wanted her in my life, but that I would not tolerate how she talks to me anymore and if she continued to do so, I would walk away from the relationship. She didn’t like it, but she agreed.
A few weeks later, she got mad about something I posted on Facebook. She called me and accused me of posting something that she said she knew was about her. I tried to reason with her and let her know the post had nothing to do with her or anyone else. It was just a post I liked so I shared it. She wouldn’t stop berating me, so I finally had to hang up.
A few minutes later, I started receiving the vilest texts I had ever received from anyone. She accused me of being judgmental. She told me if I was going to continue on this journey helping women, I needed to be more understanding and if not, I needed to change my career. She called me “toxic,” a “goody two shoes,” “miss little perfect wanna be,” and more. I politely blocked her calls, her texts, and on Facebook.
It took me a few days of prayer, meditation, and soul searching to work through this, but once I did, I was very surprised that I didn’t fall apart. I felt very free and empowered. I took control of the situation by taking my power back.
If you are struggling with setting boundaries, here are some insights to building better boundaries and maintaining them.
1. You have to know your limits and name them.
In order to set good boundaries, you have to be sure of where you stand. You will need to identify your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional boundaries. Decide what you are willing to accept, tolerate, and what makes you feel uncomfortable.
2. Listen to your intuition.
Intuition is a tool you use to help you keep your boundaries. If there are red flags or cues of discomfort and resentment, then that probably means you are letting go of your boundaries. Ask yourself these questions: What is causing this? What is about this situation that’s causing me to be uncomfortable and resentful?
Resentment usually comes from not being appreciated and being taken advantage of or someone is imposing their views, values, and expectations on us.
3. Be very direct.
Different people have different communication styles so there are times you will probably have to be very direct about your boundaries. Stay calm and communicate firmly, but with love what your expectations are.
4. Give yourself permission.
When setting boundaries, we might fear the other person’s response. We might feel guilty by speaking up and saying “no.” Sometimes, we feel guilty because it may be your child or a parent. Even though they drain us, we feel taken advantage of.
Boundaries aren’t just to maintain healthy relationships; they’re of self-respect. So, give yourself the permission to set boundaries and preserve them.
5. Make self-care a priority.
When you put yourself first our need and motivation to set and keep boundaries becomes stronger. Self-care also means recognizing the importance of your feelings and honoring them.
Putting yourself first also gives you the energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more with others. And when we are in a better place, we become a better wife, mother, sister, or friend.
What is a boundary you can put in place in your life that will create a healthier relationship between you and someone you care about? Let’s talk about it on a private call. I invite you to book a free Self-Love Session. During this call, we will create an action plan for how you can set boundaries to create healthier relationships with those in your life.