There are some lovely B words in the English language. Beautiful. Bubble. Badass. Bejeweled. Bodacious. And there’s another B word that maybe isn’t as lovely to say but can make our lives much lovelier. And that B word is: BOUNDARIES. It sounds a bit harsh when you say it, but these little babies have the power to create a much more harmonious world for us.
This could be a post all on its own! When you don’t set boundaries where they’re needed, the horror stories leave you with major SMH moments.
Here are some real-life examples of situations that can happen when boundaries aren’t in place:
- Your mother projects her resentment towards your father on you, even though you have a positive relationship with him
- You say yes to every invitation to every social event and you feel tired and like you never have enough time to take care of yourself
- Your parents drop in on your home unannounced interrupting your family/routines/plans
- Your partner uses words that offend you
- Your friends constantly come over, make a mess they don’t clean up, and eat/drink all your food/drinks
WHY DO I NEED ‘EM?
Before I tell you some of my top reasons why boundaries are important, let me first tell you what can happen if you don’t have them. Fear is an appropriate tactic, right?
o Lack of boundaries can cause arguments
o Lack of boundaries can cause you frustration
o Lack of boundaries can hurt relationships
o Lack of boundaries can cause you to lose your sanity
o Lack of boundaries can cause you to be taken advantage of
Scared into believing in boundaries yet? It’s okay if not. I prefer a kinder approach to this discussion. Here are my top reasons why boundaries are beneficial.
You pay more attention to what YOU need
In order to set boundaries, you first need to be self-aware and in tune with what your needs are. Figuring out your boundaries causes you to be introspective and ask yourself some questions. What helps me feel safe? What makes me happy? What makes me uncomfortable? Figuring these things out helps you learn what you want and need, and what boundaries you need to create to make them happen.
They lead to better relationships
When you set and communicate boundaries, it enhances the quality of relationships. There is respect built by honoring boundaries, so when people do that for you that trust increases. It also makes you more compassionate towards others’ boundaries as well. Therefore, increasing the quality of any of those relationships. Win-win!
You learn to communicate better (and that includes saying no)
It may not be easy, but telling people [that need to know] your boundaries will force you to communicate in a clear, concise, perfectly polite and unapologetic way. “I need” are two very powerful words. But using the word “I” has gotten a bad reputation. “I” can be construed as selfish, but when it comes to taking care of ourselves (which ultimately helps us be better in all areas of life) is not a selfish act. It’s one of the most generous. You learn the art of “I need” and also saying “no” when you have boundaries.
You have less anger and resentment
When you don’t have boundaries where you need them, it is easy for others to take advantage of you. We give other people the power over us when we don’t have boundaries, and when you let people do things that are not okay it builds anger, resentment and frustration for you. When you have boundaries and others know and respect them, the less likely you are to have anger and resentment build up towards others.
Your needs are met!
Woohoo! Winning! When your needs are met, you can be the best version of yourself. You have the time, energy, and emotional/mental capacity to be there for others. You’re able to do what you want and spend more time on the things that fill you up. You don’t have emotional guilt or self-doubt about the decisions you make. It is FREEDOM! Let that boundary freedom ring, baby!
WHAT ARE YOUR BOUNDARIES
Everyone has different needs when it comes to themselves and their relationships. Therefore, you are the only person that can answer what your boundaries should be. As mentioned above, you become more in tune with yourself when you create boundaries. Ask yourself questions in different areas. With your partner, with your family, with your friends, etc. What is the limit at which you feel taken advantage of, uncomfortable, or angry? Find those lines and create a boundary. They will help you with all the areas listed above. But it’s your homework to look inside and determine what boundaries you need!
HOW TO COMMUNICATE THEM
For a lot of people, this is the hardest part. You know that you WANT a line to be drawn in certain areas to protect your heart, your sanity, and your balance. But telling people can be difficult. We talked about how having boundaries will help you be a better communicator, and it will. But first you have to start. I once read that Americans have a culture of tiptoeing around people’s feelings more than any other culture. Other cultures are more direct, and information is received as information and not taken as a personal attack. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I think in general, when we’re not used to asking for what’s best for us or what we want it is hard to do it for fear of another person’s reactions.
It takes courage to use the two big words we talked about earlier: I NEED. When we honestly use those words to tell others what we need, it is hard to deny them. When it comes to communicating your boundaries, you don’t need to apologies for your needs or go to the ends of the earth explaining why.
With our real-life examples above, here are some “I need” statements communicating example boundaries for them:
- “I need to be left out of conversations about dad with you. If you could find another source to discuss him with it will help you and I keep a positive relationship.”
- “I need time to accomplish some things at that time so I have to decline the invitation.”
- “I need advance notice when you’re coming over. Unannounced drop-ins disrupt what we have going on as a unit and causes extra chaos for me.”
- “I need you to know those words you use offend me when you use them and cause me to check out of our conversations. Can we find another word to express what you mean?
- “I need space from our recent routine. If my house is going to continue to be the social gathering location, I need some agreed upon expectations for all of us so we can have a good time without a burden”
Boundaries are important with your partner, your family, your friends, and at work. Take whatever nuggets are applicable to you and apply them where you need them! And find yourself in a happier, healthier place in your mind, and with the people you share your boundaries with.