Personal Boundaries; The Importance and How to Set Them
Boundaries are good
The importance of boundaries
Boundaries are important for many reasons. They determine the health of a relationship. They clearly define where you stop and where another begins, which problems belong to you, and which problems belong to someone else. Setting boundaries should be done on mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. As with any behavioral change, this takes time and practice.
Everyone has boundaries, many of which go unspoken in various areas of our lives. A good example that is often not thought of is "personal space", or proximity of touch. How we tolerate someone speaking to us, and how we speak to others. How much personal information we share with someone and the rate at which we share it.
When one party or both have difficulty with boundaries the relationship suffers. Co-dependents are especially at risk for dysfunctional relationships due to poor boundary identification.
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The difference between healthy love and addicted love
First, we should define what healthy love is vs addicted love. If you find yourself leaning on the addicted love side, it's probably time to define your personal boundaries or reestablish them. If you find that you are surrounded by healthy love, it's never a bad idea to reinforce your personal boundaries with the suggestions in this article.
All of us have the impulse to find love and be in love, but addictions can cloud our judgment and put us in unhealthy situations. Defining healthy love vs addicted love can help us find the love we all desire and more importantly, deserve.
Healthy love grows and develops at a comfortable pace for all involved once we feel secure. We share equally and do not push anyone into being more vulnerable then they are comfortable with.
Addictive love tries to force and create love when we feel insecure about ourselves.
Healthy love creates life, growth, trust, security, happiness, and freedom to be yourself.
Addicted love creates drama, chaos, obsession, poor self-esteem and mental health problems.
Healthy love is based on the belief that we WANT to be together.
Addictive love is based on the belief that we HAVE to be together.
Healthy love teaches that we are in control and responsible for our own happiness and that it is not your partner's job.
Addicted love puts unrealistic expectations on another, making them responsible for our happiness.
Healthy love is unique, there is no "ideal or perfect lover" we accept perfections and flaws with an open, supportive and loving attitude.
Addictive love is stereotyped, and there is almost always a certain "type" we find ourselves attracted to. Many women can relate to this in terms of always seeking a "bad boy", or an unavailable partner (ie married, in jail, addicted, etc)
Healthy love encourages honesty and the openness to be ourselves, comfortably.
Addictive love encourages secrets, lies, and wanting things to appear as they are not.
Healthy love is kind, gentle and comfortable.
Addictive love is tense, dramatic, stressful, and combative.
Healthy love is being satisfied with the partner we have. And willing to grow together and battle life's hardships as a team.
Addictive love is always looking for more or better. It is unfaithful, it is demeaning.
Healthy vs Addicted
The reason I talked about healthy love vs addicted love is that often people that have a hard time having and maintaining personal boundaries find themselves in dysfunctional relationships. Mentioning the differences helps one determine if they have personal boundaries, or are codependent.
When an infant is born, it solely relies on its mother or parents for care. If the baby cries, wets itself, needs to eat, and the parents address these needs, the baby is validated in believing that its needs are important. If the baby is neglected, dismissed, mistreated, it quickly learns from an early age that its needs do not matter. This latter combo often produces a codependent or narcissist. A lot of times you need to consider your past to really understand why you've never had any personal boundaries, or what may have caused them to become blurry lines. Often people without boundaries have very low self-esteem and learned from an early age that their needs were not important, so they began always tending to the needs of others.
Having personal boundaries is necessary to define yourself in this world. You are an individual with your own needs, ideas, gifts, and opinions. Having boundaries in an act of taking care of yourself. It is your responsibility no one else's. Taking care of yourself is healthy and responsible.
As you develop your boundaries you will get a sense of the roles played by family and others. You will learn to respect yourself and others. You stop abusing yourself, and you don't use or abuse others or allow them to use or abuse you. You stop feeling like you need to control or be controlled by others. You put down the responsibility for other people, which in reality was never yours, to begin with. You develop a clear sense of your rights and those of others. Your territory becomes respected. You listen and trust yourself. You learn what feels good, what does not, what is yours, and what is not. You also learn what you are willing to lose.
Getting Started On Setting boundaries
At first, these steps may feel foreign or odd. You may feel guilty and bad for saying no, or not being available to others as you always have been. You may struggle with "sticking to your guns". It should be a sign that the more you feel this way, the more you've probably needed some lines drawn for quite some time.
- When you identify the need to set a limit with another, set it clearly, without anger, and in as few words as possible.
- You cannot simultaneously set a boundary and take care of someones personal feelings. Read that again.
- Read above again.
- Complaining, rage, anger, and whining are clues that boundaries need to be set.
- Be prepared for people to test your boundaries when you set them, and stay strong. If you don't have any conviction, you won't be taken seriously. Don't say anything you don't mean or don't intend to follow through on, this wrecks your credibility.
- You will find a lot of people are happy to respect your boundaries and develop more respect for you for having them.
- You set boundaries as you are ready, and not a minute sooner
- Surround yourself with healthy (non-addicted) people with similar interests
- Become more aware of how you feel around certain people, if you find that you are drained, depressed, exhausted-chances are these relationships do not have boundaries and should be discarded if possible. Or serious boundaries with negative people need to be put firmly into place.
- Meditate, pray, and give yourself mantras.
- Just as you pay attention to draining relationships, do the same for places, or activities, and change or adjust your life/schedule as needed.
- Recognize acknowledge and accept that other peoples needs and feelings are NOT more important than your own.
- Learn to say no. You do not have to be rude, mean or justify why you are saying no. Just a simple no, that's your right, then stick to it.
- Trust and believe in yourself.
Added benefits of personal boundaries
Over time, as you master your new domain, you will feel less stress, more happiness, and you will begin to trust yourself. You'll be healthier and more in touch with others, and you will have better communication with others. You will have fulfilling relationships, stability, and control over your own life.
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© 2013 Rebecca