Why do we find it so hard to have clarity over our boundaries or the conviction to ask people to respect them?
When you know what is important to you, decision making over your boundaries becomes very straight forward. If you value family time but work keeps eating into that time you are going to feel conflicted and unhappy. Know that keeping your values safe with a boundary, is the best thing you can do for yourself and your relationships.
Ask: If I work past 5.30pm will this honour the importance of family time?
If yes, then do it. If no, then don’t.
Or create a win-win scenario.
For example: The money I earn from work is of high value to me, so is family time. Therefore, I will be clear that on a Tuesday and Thursday I will be available to work until 8pm. All other day’s I finish at 5.30pm.
The vast majority of us as children, will have experienced a reluctance from our parents, our teachers or our peers to allow us to have personal boundaries.
Perhaps our request to be left alone was ignored, or we were never given time limits on how long our punishment would go on for, or maybe we asked to be seated away from a child who was bothering us and this was not allowed.
There are many ways and many times at which our personal limits were violated because we learned that adults created these limits for us and not the other way around.
It should therefore seem logical now that as adults we struggle to set our own boundaries (even though we may find it easy to set limits for others). We were never taught to, or allowed to do this. It’s new territory for many of us and we aren’t quite sure how to go about it.
This is a continuation of the above point. When in childhood, we have had to adhere to the boundaries of others, without necessarily being allowed to have them ourselves, we assume that as adults we need to assert them over others in order to establish ourselves successfully in the world.
We have learned this behaviour from those around us and we simply copy it as we grow up unless we begin to question how well it works!
There is a fear that should we change anything (including ourselves) within a relationship (of any kind), that the relationship may not be able to withstand the change and the resulting conflict may upset us and ultimately it may end the relationship.
So we resist change even when we know that staying the same is also ultimately ruining the relationship.
Perhaps you feel that you may appear too demanding. ‘not nice’ or any other number of things if you were to put boundaries in place.
This is a matter of self – worth.
When we feel we are not good enough, we fail to respect ourselves and our values. This can manifest itself with a feeling of guilt over setting boundaries in place, feeling that we are being selfish (and that this is ‘bad’) or that we fear creating conflict and arousing the anger of others around us.
You cannot ignore your boundaries without paying a price
There is always a price to pay for ignoring your boundaries. The sad reality is that many of us neglect either ourselves or the people we love the most over and above the needs of those who are less important to us.
I’m sure most of us can relate to a scenario where we have been asked to do something by a college or someone we are not very close to, and even though we don’t really want to do it, we say yes.
Occasionally, we say yes even when we know we have already made plans to take our children to the park or to watch a film with our partner. We know they love us and will probably forgive us so we say yes and expect others around us to understand and accept it.
If we can put some boundaries in place, we could finally be set free from ever letting down those close to us again.