Physical boundaries. They can look so different and feel strange when crossing them. A boundary
designed to keep the overly curious family pet inside of safety will have a different feel to a human.
However, that same intention with 12ft fences burrowed four feet deep into the ground with razor wire on
top and at the bottom of the inside, will give an entirely different impression. A white picket fence or a
nice dual sided wooden fence with little room for those under 5’5 to peek over. We create these
physical boundaries for one reason or another. Justified or overreaching…but, always for a reason EVEN
if only we see the need.
Then there are the boundaries we create or should create with people. Many believe that boundaries
with our friends, family, co-workers, or others are like those physical boundaries with the 12ft fences,
but they do not have to be that way. Boundaries are there to help move authentically inside of a
relationship while honoring the other person as well as yourself. If authenticity or honor cannot exist,
well…maybe neither should the relationship. Boundaries present the opportunity to love yourself while teaching others how to love you.
Not sure what I mean? No worries, give me a moment and I will paint a picture. You have a
friend that calls you at 11pm most days. Your bedtime is 11:15pm – teeth brushed, television off
and satin cap on your pretty head. But, she’s calling and you love her so you answer. Then, you glance at the clock at 2:30am. This isn’t a one-time occurrence. Your friend does this EVERY week. You have two
choices…begin to develop resentment for your friend or talk about it. You could offer that she call you at 10:45pm and talk for thirty minutes twice a week. You could offer that she call you on Friday night when you know you are only going to be catching up on the latest episode of Bridgerton. Or, you could resent her. You could grow angry at her calls. You could begin to seethe and look in pure disdain when you see her calling. You could accuse her of being disrespectful in your mind and then eventually over the phone. You could begin to answer her calls with less frequency and more frustration. You may begin answering out of obligation, not love. It could even get to where you dont answer at all.
Or, you could set a boundary.
Ohhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhh, we are building better relationships up in here. Boundary setting is not the
same as wall building, but if need be…you can make it so. Don’t worry, we will chat about which
boundaries to possibly set as a simple reminder and which ones to have a wall of razor wire.
Now, I cannot say which boundary you should set…that is purely up to you, your tastes, your needs and
your own perspective. Some folks have a strong avoidance toward raised voices regardless of the mood
or intention. Some expect to not be touched in a certain manner and others may require space before
continuing a conversation. This could be inside of a romantic relationship or even a familial relationship.
With family, it can be a bit more difficult to set boundaries because some family feel entitled to
whatever it is they are doing. Picture the adult family member trying to force a hug from a child
attempting to run for the hills.
That uncle that is perturbed at your child’s refusal to hug him and your polite decline to make the child
hug him. That uncle may feel entitled to the hug, but in truth he is not. This can play out as adults as
well. The sister that makes you feel lesser than and if ever you start exhibiting some behavior that she
doesn’t like…all of a sudden THAT story comes out from when you were teenagers. You know the one –
makes you feel embarrassed every single time she tells it EVEN if you are the only one around. So, what
in the world do you do? How do you stop this? Well, it is possible that you will find help in setting a
boundary. It may not be comfortable at first and you are likely going to get a LOT of initial push back, but
you were already uncomfortable. You were already struggling AND in the same space. So, why not face that discomfort and get to a place where you feel better.
So, you get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable b/c you already live there…but THIS lack
of comfort will help you get back to living your best life instead of make you feel unsafe or embarrassed.
Take the time to figure out what it is that you need and want. Then, identify what makes you
uncomfortable. Take a moment to reflect on it in comparison to what you need. Then state facts. Make
it clear. Keep it simple. Keep is short. No monologues here.
If the individual you’re working to set a boundary with pushes back hard…take a moment of reflection
again. Why? What are they getting from this? What do they obtain from your lack of a boundary? It may not be clear to you, but it is present.
Dear reader, please don’t be mistaken…there is a reason they are angry even if you cannot see it just
yet. Unfortunately, that reason is of no benefit to you unless your buddy is literally trying to get you to
drink less, not go on a date with an unsafe person, or walk into a space that is likely going to trigger
something negative for you.
So, I invite you to take a minute and think about it...and set the boundary. Maintain the boundary. LOVE the boundary.