Have you ever found yourself reluctantly and begrudgingly giving in to the demands and expectations of others? Do you feel others take advantage of you because you can’t say ‘no’.
When you were growing up, were you aware of clear boundaries and consequences? Or free to do as you pleased? What has this meant for you now?
What are boundaries?
Boundaries define property - what belongs to whom. They delineate areas of responsibility and influence. Boundaries exist in every sphere of life: physical, social, mental and emotional. In every walk of life there are things that are acceptable and things that are not. Many of these are man-made expectations but many are founded on *laws* that govern that sphere of operation.
Why are boundaries important?
As individuals, boundaries define us. Quite simply, they describe who we are and who we are not. Some people seem to be so connected to others they can barely define where they end, and the others start. This is particularly seen among those with a strong Lover archetype at the root of their character.
Beyond our personal identity, boundaries define what is acceptable regarding the use of our time, possessions and property, minds and bodies. Other people make demands of us all through the day and we continually faces choices as to what boundaries we will follow, set by others, and what boundaries we will enforce, set by ourselves.
Of course, there are times when someone sets boundaries, rules or laws that aren't actually helpful or even seem pointless. This is often the case when the desire to control is driven by fear. Boundaries set by fear help nobody but positive boundaries are actually very liberating.
Healthy boundaries are liberating
Positive boundaries lead to a fulfilling, sustainable life. When in place, you know where you stand, and where others stand. When they are clearly communicated, they engender RESPECT which is essential for healthy self-esteem, order and prosperity.
Life without boundaries
By contrast, we should take a moment to consider what life would be like without boundaries. Refusing to set boundaries is NOT an act of love as some might believe.
To neglect boundaries is equally damaging as it marks a refusal to take responsibility over the things placed into your care.
We very often fail to set boundaries because we FEAR the consequences. But, however spiritual you think you’re acting by giving in all the time, being nice out of fear isn’t going to work. It robs you of your sense of personal value, your self-esteem and brigns into question who you really are.
Do you fear the consequence of not giving in to the demands and expectations of others? What’s interesting to note is that the fears we recognise are actually not the biggest issues for us, it’s the unconscious bowing down to our unrecognised fears that really limit us.
Who is responsible for setting our boundaries?
We are. Period.Think of your life as a garden that you have been given to tend, a vineyard you’ve been asked to manage. Recognise where you’ve allowed others to influence the way you have managed your garden and ask yourself if you’d actually prefer it if you were free to make your own decisions.
We need to acknowledge the vital difference between being responsible FOR (which covers THEIR behaviour) and responsible TO (which covers YOUR behaviour).
The Teacher Jesus, wisely said, "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Here he’s highlighting the critical need for you to set boundaries with what you have – and the consequences of crossing a boundary, even if you do so with noble intentions.
This, then, is crucial:
If we consistently guard and enforce our own boundaries we ‘train’ those around us and set their expectations of us.
Pad is a trusted adviser to business leaders across the globe. He is Director at Come Alive Success Coaching ltd. and the Author of TEAM ME - How to Play Your Best Game in Life, and TEAM GUY - Forging Men of Soul & Steel.