Boundaries Are A Good Thing
Let’s talk boundaries. I believe in boundaries but it took me a long time to learn how to set them. I found myself wanting others to create the boundary that I wanted and me not have to deal with it but it just does not work that way. When someone else does it for us, it also means they can move that boundary.
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Dr. Phil has a saying “good fences make for good neighbors. We all need boundaries in our lives…for others and for ourselves. Being both a parent and an early childhood educator, I firmly believe that children need boundaries. They need to know how far they can go before they get in trouble. They need to know what the limits are so that they can feel safe and comfortable. I truly believe this is what is wrong with a lot of our children today. They have been raised with no boundaries, not taught what is right and what is not and have been let to run loose without having to account for their actions. We have to be accountable for our actions. When we are held accountable, we learn to respect others.
And through my years of teaching and being a parent, I found that most children were happier when the boundaries were set and they knew what to expect.In fact, I have had many children and young adults tell me that their parents did not care and when I asked why they felt that way, their response was “Because they do not care what I do. I have no rules to follow. If they loved me they would have rules showing me they did.”
Children without boundaries grow up to be adults who do not know how to live with boundaries and who have inappropriate behavior because they were never taught it was wrong to act a certain way. Boundaries create less stress because we do not have to worry about the “what if’s” so much. And in a world that is filled with so much stress, anxiety, and frustration, to be able to lower that level of stress is wonderful. When we learn the boundaries of what is proper, what actions are not right and that “freedom of speech” comes with consequences, then we learn how to live in such a stressful world. And when we have no boundaries on what we say or do, the negative consequences can be anything from people turning away from us, not wanting to be around us, to lawsuits for slander or defamation of character, to being asked to leave places, to losing jobs, etc. Boundaries are a way of respecting ourselves.
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The first place we should start with boundaries is learning what they are and why they are there. Some boundaries are laws like speeding laws, not breaking into other’s homes, attacking others, bullying, etc. Those are boundaries to tell us what is right in society and what is not. But other boundaries we need to set ourselves about what we allow ourselves to be involved in, what we personally allow around us and what we will accept in life.
I have a boundary of not being around people who are negative all the time. I am sorry but it is like being around emotional vampires that literally suck the life from you. I have to take care of myself and so I decided that I had to limit my exposure to too much negative talk. This does not mean I want the world all la la la la Happy, Happy, Happy. It means that when the ONLY thing someone talks about every single time you see them is something negative..how sick they are, how bad things are going, everything that is wrong….it is too much. We all have hard times and we will talk about them but when someone never has anything good to say, you have to be careful to not let that pull you into the pit of negativity and victim thinking.
Other boundaries are things such as learning to say “no” when you really do not want to do something. Sometimes we can find ourselves agreeing to every request and then find ourselves resentful that we got pulled into another bake sale or another team meeting or even into baby sitting again when we did not feel like it. People will treat us by the example we set and by what we let them do. But, the first time you learn to say “No” when asked to do something you do not want to do, you will find the relief so great that it is palpable. It is a sense of freedom that you are in charge of what you are doing.
I set a boundary on phone calls as they are draining to me. I do not accept many calls that I know will be long drawn out conversations. And so, if I do not feel well enough to say “Sorry, but I need to get off. I will talk to you later” at some point in the conversation, I simply do not answer the phone call. That is my boundary and it is taking care of me. I know my answering machine will pick up the phone call and if it is an emergency, I can call them back.
Boundaries are not bad things. They are just to keep our worlds happier and safer. It is a way of letting people know what we will and will not accept. I have a boundary of no abusive behavior or talk to me. That is my standard. And because I do not accept it, then people soon learn that if they do, I will tell them about it and put a wall between me and them. That way people know if they are abusive to me, they will be cut off rather quickly.
People treat us by what we accept. I do not accept abuse from anyone and that includes doctors. I stand up to doctors who are bullies and mistreat you and let them know that I will not take that kind of treatment. And, if that does not work, I report them to get something done. I have a boundary of no business deals with family, no selling to family, etc. It just makes life simpler and saves the arguments that can come when you do have those business deals with family, who in turn feel like they are not included in the boundaries and so overstep them.
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Boundaries are all about making life simpler and less stressful and letting people know who and what we are and what we do not want in our lives. Boundaries are ways to keep your life healthier, happier and remove some of the stress that comes with no boundaries. Sometimes we can be afraid to set a boundary because we are afraid the others will get mad or stop talking to us. Well, the truth is most will not quit loving us or talking to us. Some will get mad but they get over it once they realize we are not going to change our boundary. And many learn to respect our boundary.
We can not let fear keep us from setting good boundaries and making our lives less stressful. Life can be so simple if you just do it. Like I told a friend once when she said the phone was driving her crazy that day. My response? “Well, stop answering it. Let the machine do it”. It is simple..just set the boundary and do not let someone push you past that boundary. If you do that people either follow your boundary or you put up a distance boundary between them and you. It is not being selfish. It is not stopping loving overs. It is simply setting a boundary for what you can handle in life. You can still love people without letting them run over your life. If you find yourself resenting things, ask yourself if it is because you have no boundary there and therefore people assume they can push you to doing things.
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