The Need for Boundaries
We’ve all had times when we’ve felt taken advantage of. Some situations we find ourselves in can be so uncomfortable! Maybe we have regrets about how we’ve handled our relationships with others?
Is there anyone in your life who treats you as if you are unimportant, not valued, or simply ignores your feelings? Do you feel like a doormat at times?
Maybe it’s time for some boundaries.
The definition of boundaries in The Medical Dictionary for Health Professions and Nursing* is: The limits of one’s personal space, including physical, psychosocial, and interpersonal domains.
Simply put, a boundary is asking for or telling someone what we need. It’s placing a limit to what is acceptable, what we are able to live with.
Responses to our boundary setting may be favorable or unfavorable. When we ask for something and receive a disagreeable answer, have we thought about what our next step might be? We need to carefully think through what we are asking before we ask.
The first thing to remember when setting boundaries is we cannot control another person’s behavior or choices. If someone responds in a way that acknowledges our feelings, expresses empathy and understanding , or desires to change negative behavior, we may feel validated, in control, and more secure than we previously did.
But what if the response is negative?
What if the person says we shouldn’t feel as we do or is not willing to change behavior, or won’t accommodate our wishes? Then what?
Each of us will need to make decisions to do the next right thing (what’s best for ourself) and be able to live with the outcomes of those decisions.
I was viewing a Vimeo video of Dr. Sandy Wilson. She expressed feelings of anger, anxiety, and uncomfortableness while riding in a car with her husband (because of his excessive speeding). Could she control how fast he drove? Not really. Sure, she could complain or nag him, and he’d slow down for a bit, but then he would resume speeding. Trying to control his behavior wasn’t working for her. It didn’t seem to make any difference to her husband whether or not his speeding caused her to feel unsafe.
Guess what? Sally decided it was time to set a boundary.
Awaiting the next trip, before getting back in the car with her husband, she expressed her concerns of safety and desire for him to go the speed limit. She told him if he continued to speed while she was in the car with him, he could drop her off at the next nearest town where she would get a taxi, bus, or airplane to get her to the destination. Now he had to make the choice- to keep speeding, or not.
If her husband chose to speed, she had to be sure she would be able to keep her word- to follow through with the choice to ask to be let out at the next town, or she could always choose to drive herself (in her own car) the next time they took a trip.
Thankfully, her husband responded in a positive manner, showing respect for her feelings, and remembered to go at a comfortable speed giving Sandy the security she needed.
Where could we think about setting boundaries for ourselves? Could it be today is the time to set some?
I hope this post gives ideas for boundary setting and for becoming an even healthier version of you! Blessings on your journey to joy!
*copyright Farlex 2012