INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL BOUNDARIES
Physical boundaries are clear: fences, yards, etc. Non-physical boundaries are not as clear, yet imperative for a healthy relationship with yourself and others.
"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."
Henry Cloud, PhD
FOUR PILLARS OF BOUNDARES
NEEDS, WANTS, LIMITS, COMMUNICATION
1YOUR NEEDS & NON-NEGOTIABLES
The first step in establishing boundaries is knowing your needs. These are your essentials and non-negotiables. This includes what you need from yourself and others.
2YOUR WANTS & DESIRES
What do you want in your career, friendships, relationship, etc.? It's your job to know what you want so you can ask for it. Stating your needs gives others the opportunity to give to you and love you.
3YOUR LIMITS & CONSEQUENCES
Realizing your limits and consequences (if limits are violated) keeps you safe. It's self-respect, self-discipline and self-love, and gives others the chance to respect and care for you.
When you understand your needs, wants, limits and consequences, you can communicate clearly. It's also essential to realize who is trustworthy and how much to share with others. For example, we wouldn't share our deepest desires with our boss.
"LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO SET BOUNDARIES. YOU TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT YOU BY DECIDING WHAT YOU WILL AND WILL NOT ACCEPT."
WHAT BOUNDARIES DO FOR US
WITHOUT BOUNDARIES WE LOSE OURSELVES
1SENSE OF SELF
Boundaries draw a 'line in the sand.' Without boundaries our 'Sense of Self' gets lost and enmeshed in the needs, expectations and approval of others. Your boundaries differentiate you from others.
Prioritizing yourself by asserting boundaries ensures you're keeping yourself safe and cared for. This is your #1 JOB! This builds and sustains a solid foundation of self-love and self-worth.
"Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices... boundaries define your soul and they help you to guard it and maintain it."
Henry Cloud, PhD
Are you watering others' lawn before your own? Without boundaries you risk: abandoning yourself while over-caring, people-pleasing and taking over-responsibility for others; placating to 'roles' from childhood; or even putting up with abuse.
Studies prove Internal Boundaries (self-discipline) result in the highest rates of goal-attainment and self-esteem. Internal Boundaries involve setting healthy limits on your consumption and behaviors with self-compassion (not self-berating nor over-indulgence).
“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
WHERE ARE YOU ON THIS SCALE?
Lacking boundaries can be traced back to childhood - and in school when we were taught to be quiet and compliant. If you were taught the easiest way to get love and approval was to be a "good" kid and comply, you likely hold a backward belief that being boundary-less will lead to love and approval. This leads to difficult relationships, self-lessness, feeling empty, codependency and other forms of dependencies and addictions. You may also rebel against this urge to please and end up with avoidance, walled-off from allowing love in.
"Boundaries give others a manual on how you expect to be treated and what you'll allow. Without boundaries, people won’t know how to act around you, and you'll be left feeling disrespected."
Henry Cloud, PhD
4 MAIN BOUNDARY PROBLEMS
ACCORDING TO DRS HENRY CLOUD AND JOHN TOWNSEND
Boundary problems are not limited to those that "can't say no." People who don't respect others' needs, freedom, and limits also have boundary problems. We can be more than one type, depending on the situation and relationship. A common dysfunctional relationship dynamic is a Compliant/Avoidant with a Controller/Nonresponsive. It is essential for both individuals to realize and build Balanced Boundaries in order to have a functional, healthy, feel-good, loving, trusting, respectful relationship.
BOUNDARIES IN RELATIONSHIPS
THE FOUNDATION OF HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
1TRUST, RESPECT AND SAFETY
Without boundaries, we might not feel safe – not just physically safe, but emotionally safe. We also need boundaries to feel respect. Without conscious boundaries, our relationships may be highly reactive with fleeing (FLIGHT), attacking (FIGHT), shutting down (FREEZE), or placating (FAWN). Poor boundaries, poor connection, poor intimacy.
2PREVENT RESENTMENT LOOPS
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. Expectations, without clear communication, are a down payment on resentment. Understand more about the dynamic that causes resentment, conflict and power-struggles.
"Boundaries in relationships work both ways: they create emotional health and are created by people with emotional health."
Our boundaries need gates that open. Vulnerability and sharing your authenticity with trusted others is essential - they have good things to offer us. Hiding behind a perfect mask walls you off from feeling seen and truly valued. Learn about your Attachment Style and the Gifts of Imperfection.
4CLARITY AND 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 and (2) communicate these needs and wants effectively.
"Many people do not take ownership for how they resist LOVE. They have a lot of love around them but do not realize that their loneliness is a result of their own lack of responsiveness... our ability to give and respond to love is our greatest gift."
Henry Cloud, PhD
9 BOUNDARY COMPONENTS
WHAT BOUNDARIES ARE MADE OF
"Your feelings are your responsibility and you must own them and see them as yours so you can begin to find an answer to whatever issue they are pointing to."
Henry Cloud, PhD
It's our job to keep ourselves emotionally safe. We set ourselves up for disappointment, resentment, and self-resentment, if we share aspects of ourselves with those that have been judgmental, shaming, neglecting, or emotionally immature.
We need to discern, based on past experiences, who is capable of connecting with us at richer, high-levels of authenticity and vulnerability. This illustrates an example benchmark for setting boundaries.
"When people set boundaries with you, it's their attempt to continue the relationship with you. It's not an attempt to hurt you."
10 SIGNS OF BOUNDARIES SUCCESS
SIGNS YOU'RE BALANCING YOUR BOUNDARIES
1KNOW YOUR NEEDS, WANTS, LIMITS
You have a list of your needs, wants, limits and consequences (see worksheet below). It starts with knowing your unique boundaries. You're also learning to have awareness of your internal boundaries. For example, you may want to limit your cupcake consumption so if you overeat past your limit the consequence is no cupcakes for a month.
2RESENTMENT AND ANGER
You're giving yourself permission to feel feelings! Resentment and anger reveal you've been violated, real or perceived. You'll begin noticing anger during the most subtle boundary violations. This is a good sign! Anger is our inner alarm that alerts of an unmet need or a violation of our values, boundaries, or safety. You may even feel mad at yourself for violating your own boundaries. This doesn't mean you react to anger! It simply means you're tuned into your inner alarm instead of denying or suppressing it. You're self-connecting and aware of your boundaries. Good job.
"Anger is like a fire that shoots up within your heart, letting you know there's a problem to confront."
Henry Cloud, PhD
Guilt used to drive your life. You used to force yourself into things because of guilt's tug. You may have been stuck in the Dreaded Drama Triangle, taking over-responsibility for others by rescuing or enabling. Now you feel empowered to identify guilt and understand it is trying to keep you 'nice,' in fear of disappointing others. But you'll no longer passively comply. You'll embrace guilt and calm it, without letting it make decisions for you.
4SMALL "NO'S" AND FREEING "YES'S"
Which is self-loving? (1) You're unsure so you said yes or (2) You're unsure, so you said no. It is likely your guilt and concern over disappointing someone, would drive you into saying yes, even when you're unsure. You're no longer a victim to your own people-pleasing. With healthy boundaries, you'll be able to chose option (2). It'll feel honest, rather than feeling like an obligation out of compliance.
balancing boundaries is an active process and a major component of building self-trust. Establishing and communicating boundaries needs to grow and mature at a rate that takes into account your past injuries, otherwise you could fall down before you have enough solid ground.
5RECALLING THE PAST
You're recalling and healing from regrets and experiences when you lacked boundaries. The times you over-gave, over-shared, or the times you wished you said 'No.' Perhaps you haven't been as authentic as you've wanted with trustworthy loved-ones in your life - which has left you feeling unloved for many years. Learn more about Backdraft Emotions.
6TREASURING YOUR TREASURES
You're cherishing and taking 100% responsibility for your emotions, values, desires, and authenticity. These are your treasures. With Emotional Health Skills you're learning to be empowered by your emotions. You're also realizing you cannot take responsibility for other adults' emotions as they are their own. You're respecting and honoring them.
7PRACTICING BIG "NO'S"
This step involves facing larger fears and building boundaries in the most difficult areas of your life. Who is the foremost person in your life with whom it's difficult to set limits? Your boss? A parent? A spouse? Straightening out these relationships is one of the biggest hurdles. Take ownership to communicate your needs, wants, and limits. No one can read your mind.
8RESPECTING OTHERS' BOUNDARIES
Respecting boundaries allows for trust and love. Some of the most loving people I know have sabotaged relationships due to disrespecting boundaries with controlling behaviors, over-texting, over-analyzing, nagging, arguing, or needing constant reassurance. These behaviors can stem from anxious/insecure attachment, and fears of abandonment or betrayal.
"Beginning to build boundaries doesn't mean you call your boss or a controlling parent and start demanding limits. Start with a therapist or support group - or a trusted friend who will honor your boundaries and love you for it."
Henry Cloud, PhD
9DRAWN TO BOUNDARY-LOVERS
As you continue to create and maintain healthy boundaries, you'll realize a more grounded, self-trusting way of existence. This naturally unfolds into attracting other boundary-lovers capable of Secure Attachment and real love. If you're in a relationship, it is key to work on boundary-skills together. If you're single, you'll find yourself becoming attracted to boundary-lovers, because in them you'll find safety in being honest and authentic. You'll begin to experience the richness of feeling seen, heard, valued, and connected with wholeheartedness.
Boundaries may be the most important building blocks of your well-being. A foundation of boundaries frees you up to protect, nurture, prioritize and develop the life you desire. Internal boundaries involves Self-compassion, self-discipline and self-love. Loving yourself is not passive or indulgent (over-eating, over-spending, over-drinking, etc.), nor is it self-berating or controlling. It's a balanced disciplined way of living, that provides great gifts of financial stability, accomplishing goals, realizing true desires, fostering healthy, loving relationships, and more.