All of life requires boundaries, especially with relationships. Without boundaries, relationships crumble. As a teambuilder, I see the negative impact in the lives of many who either choose not to respect boundaries, have never had boundaries set for them or do not know how to set boundaries for themselves. I see this in all ages, from children to adults, and the emotional scars caused by any of these limitations are easy to pinpoint. Displays of anger, inability to vocalize opinions or feelings, doing whatever the situation calls for to keep the peace and overall fear of confrontation all signal to me that work needs to be done in the area of respecting boundaries and setting boundaries among the members of the group. The goal is always for the participant to successfully transfer what is learned to other relationships in their lives in order to reclaim what they have given up or never obtained.
Boundaries are important, and having the ability to rationally verbalize such parameters to a successful end is equally important both for our protection and our sense of self worth. So, why do we often find ourselves either not setting them with people or setting them without any power behind them, particularly with those closest to us. Many times it is out of fear or the need to please, and choosing either of these options is choosing no self worth, no voice, and no genuinely honest relationship in the end. Instead of saying “no” to ourselves under the camouflage of sacrificing, sometimes we must do the hard thing and say “no” to those who are devaluing us with their behavior or words.
We would all agree to the following:
- We have the right to protect ourselves.
- We have the right to govern ourselves and all that belongs to us as long as we are not violating the rights of others.
- We have the right to find purpose and meaning in life.
- We have the right to use our voice.
- We have the right to our own opinions.
Although these are not all inclusive of our inalienable rights, they represent a valid list for weighing whether we are choosing to give these up in different areas of our lives by not setting healthy boundaries.
So how do we set boundaries?
- Decide what boundary you need.
- Once you decide, confidently state the boundary.
- Refrain from placing blame in the process.
- State reasonable consequences for the boundary not being respected.
- Allow for gradual improvement on the part of the other person so the relationship can mend.
- Stand firm in carrying out consequences if necessary so the boundary remains intact.
- Release yourself from any shame or blame involved in taking a stand and acknowledge your own self worth.
- Let go of the outcome and therefore let go of all negative messages which threaten self worth.
- Accept the outcome, even if the other person chooses to end the relationship, whether final or for a time.
Setting boundaries protects our rights, prevents others from devaluing us and perpetuates our self worth. Setting boundaries allows us to completely release the outcome, reclaim our life and refuse to be a victim. As uncomfortable as it may seem, setting boundaries carries personal reward in the end. It is never too late!
So, the only question left is, “What boundaries do you need to set in order to reclaim your life?”