Balanced boundaries are essential for our well-being. Boundaries provide a sense of Self. Without boundaries, we may feel stressed, anxious, self-resentment, lost... even empty.
Physical boundaries are clear: fences, yards, etc. Non-physical boundaries are not as clear, yet imperative for self-protection and self-trust.
Healthy boundaries are essential for healthy relationships, with yourself and others, and overall self-worth.
"We can't really love until we have boundaries - otherwise we love out of compliance or guilt. And we can't really be productive at work without boundaries - otherwise we're so busy following others' agendas that we're double-minded and unstable."
why boundaries are essential
SENSE OF SELF
Boundaries draw “a line in the sand.” Without boundaries our 'sense of self' gets lost or enmeshed in the needs and expectations of others. Your genuine needs, values, interests, opinions, emotions, and limits differentiate you from others. Having poor boundaries also results in low self-awareness, including a lack of realizing one's own needs, purpose, emotions, and expectations.
Boundaries involve your ability to understand your needs and limits; to discern who is safe and trustworthy, and who isn't; to say 'No,' to realize how much you want to allow another within your 'property line' (your space), and how much you feel comfortable sharing your 'Self' (feelings, values, interests, passions, opinions, dreams, fears, mistakes, experiences, etc.).
Boundaries are NOT 'all or nothing.' They are multi-faceted. For example, you may decide it feels safe to share your passions with a friend, but not your family secrets. You may decide it feels right to share your interests with a date, but not your mistakes and past traumas.
Feeling connected is a human NEED. Boundaries distinguish our 'property' so we can keep things safe within our 'fences.' Fences have gates - likewise, our boundaries need openings to connect with others.
If we are too walled-off with rigid boundaries we'll feel disconnected and an overall sense of emptiness - even when surrounded by those that are trustworthy and care for us. Sharing our feelings, beliefs, fears, and authenticity requires vulnerability. Vulnerability requires boundary skills to discern who is worthy and safe.
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others."
Brene Brown, PhD
Without boundary skills, you risk abandoning yourself, while over-caring for others, people-pleasing, sacrificing your needs, placating to prescribed 'role' within your family, putting up with abuse, or caring too much about what others' think about you. This may result in resenting yourself and others, and it erodes self-trust over time.
Boundaries allow you to care for yourself - spiritually, emotionally, relationally, financially, mentally, and physically. Plus, the more self-fulfilled you are, the more you can help others.
goals & behaviors
We also have internal boundaries, known as "Functional Boundaries." They refer to your ability to complete a task, a goal, or reward yourself in a healthy way. Our ability to set expectations and limits on our own behavior requires a strong sense of 'Self'.
Without boundaries we end up 'Self-less.' Recent studies prove that Functional Boundaries, combined with self-compassion, self-kindness and self-discipline (not self-berating or over-indulgence), result in the highest rates of goal-attainment.
Boundaries are necessary to maintain positive self-esteem (ability to honor yourself). Overall, balanced boundaries provide the opportunity for self-trust, and a warm, engaging, relationship with yourself. Putting everyone else's needs above yours destroys self-esteem and self-trust. Caring for yourself by asserting boundaries (keeping yourself a priority) ensures you are keeping yourself safe and cared for. This builds and sustains a solid foundation of self-love and self-esteem.
"Boundaries in relationships work both ways: they create emotional health and are created by people with emotional health."
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
4 main boundary problems
Boundary problems are not limited to those that "can't say no." People who don't respect others' limits also have boundary problems. Compliants (codependency) may also be Avoidant types. While Controllers can also be a Nonresponsive types, causing complex dysfunction in relationships. A Compliant may also be a Controller, while a Nonresponsive can be Avoidant. Types can also shift depending on the relationship due to lack of boundary skills and unawareness.
BOUNDARIES IN RELATIONSHIPS
why boundaries are essential
When we don't feel safe, secure and loved, it will have an distressing impact on the foundation of our relationships. Maladaptive protective behaviors, anxiety, frustrations, resentment, distrust, confusion, hurt, anger, etc., are often due to a lack of boundaries and the skills to clearly communicate them.
TRUST & SAFETY
Boundaries create trust and SAFETY. When you don’t feel safe – not just physically, but emotionally safe, your natural reaction (intentional or not) will be to protect yourself (the opposite of connection) by fleeing/withdrawing (FLIGHT), attacking (FIGHT), isolating/shutting down (FREEZE), or placating/pleasing (FAWN).
"Expectations [without clearly communicating our needs, wants and limits] are only a down payment on resentment."
Without realizing and communicating boundaries (especially your expectations and limits), you can end up being a prisoner to the expectations and wishes of another, leading to resentment and a loss of trust in yourself and others.
clarity & responsibility
Clear boundaries prevent blurred lines, confusion, and distrust. We can't expect others to read our minds. It is our responsibility to (1) know what we want and need in relationships (to feel loved, cherished, appreciated, protected, etc.) and (2) communicate these needs and wants effectively and appropriately at the right time and place.
"The ability to build a healthy relationship is based on the degree to which you are able to be clear and honest."
Henry Cloud, PhD
Our boundaries need gates that open and close. Vulnerability, giving and receiving, empathy, reciprocity, and sharing your authenticity with trusted others is essential. People truly have good things to offer us and we need to open our hearts to those capable of trust and emotional connection. This is especially important in our romantic, intimate relationship for real, wholehearted, secure, connection to exist. Learn more about your Attachment Style.
“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”
Brene Brown, PhD