Think of a boundary as a moat around a castle, designed to keep its occupants safe from enemy invasion. The raising and lowering of the drawbridge determines who will be allowed into the compound and who will remain outside.
Another boundary is the double yellow line down the highway designed to alert drivers to stay on the correct side of the road. Road signs and markings are important boundaries and, when respected, keep us safe on our highways and byways.
Air traffic controls are boundaries for airplanes taking off and landing at airports. Just imagine the tangled mess if airplanes were allowed to freely land and take off whenever they choose. Boundaries are expectations of safety for everyone.
A personal boundary is a decision you make about what you will no longer allow people to do to you. It is not necessarily a line drawn in the sand or issuing an ultimatum, but rather a mindset that comes from believing that you are respected. How much will you tolerate and when will you pull up the drawbridge?
A lack of boundaries increases misunderstandings, confusion, chaos, pain and uncertainty. Being on the receiving end of other’s drama could leave you mentally and physically exhausted. Without personal boundaries you just might get caught up in someone else’s complaints, negativity and crises.
Recognize your boundaries and communicate to others where these boundaries are located. Say “No” to requests that do not fit your personal mission, energy level or time constraints. Put a halt to the Madison Avenue philosophy of acquisitions and be mindful of needs vs. wants. Refuse to get caught up in busyness. Set aside time for personal growth and healthy habits. If you do not place boundaries around your time, your energy and your money, then someone else might do it for you.
‘Tis the gift to be simple, tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
~~ Traditional Shaker Folk Song
Written by Elder Joseph Brackett, 1848
- Awareness: The first step in setting boundaries is to acknowledge that you being drained by other people’s behavior and demands.
- Selectiveness: Consciously choose how you will spend your time, money and energy.
- Respectfulness: Respect your time as much as other people’s time. You want to give support without dragging a commitment on so long it becomes draining.
- Assertiveness: When a person degrades you of your choices or continually doles out unsolicited advice, it’s crucial to calmly stand up for yourself.
- Depersonalize: Sometimes it is not about YOU! Don’t take another person’s behavior personally. You have no control over how someone acts; just be mindful of your reactions.
- Focus: Focus on solutions instead of problems.
Believe that you deserve respect from others and treat yourself with love and respect. This model of behavior will teach others how to be kind to you. People live up to expectations.
Personal boundaries are built from within.