How do we know we have healthy boundaries?
‘Boundaries’ is a word we use a lot these days, we talk about them as if we have them but we struggle to implement and maintain them.
The reality is, many of us don’t actually clearly communicate or maintain our personal boundaries in our everyday life.
My lack of boundaries came from learned behaviour growing up, my beautiful Mother pleased everyone – she still does!
I watched her sacrifice her own happiness and desires to keep everyone else in our family happy, and not only our family, everyone she knew in the community!
Growing up, I watched my Mum go about her life happily helping people out a lot, mostly dealing with mine, my Dads, and my sisters bullshit, she cared for sick family members, she lent money she didn’t have to friends or neighbours, she literally exhausted herself giving, giving, giving…mostly from an empty bucket.
My Dad, however, was the opposite – he had his boundaries firmed up good and proper … he would have a go at my Mum behind closed doors for being such a walkover, yet he expected her to have the same treatment for him.
This was my childhood and teenage years growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s was a common way of life back in that generation, but it’s still happening in 2022!
The point is, I grew up with a parent (my main carer) who unconsciously did not model good boundaries and I began my adult life doing exactly the same in friendships and relationships. Over time it chipped away and I became resentful, felt devalued, and disrespected.
I didn’t really understand the importance of having boundaries until I began respecting and taking care of myself.
Back then I used to say things like ‘I don’t mind, or, I’m easy, you decide where we go/what we do’
I did try and speak up at times but then it would cause conflict, it would create difficulties and everything would be my fault. If I changed my mind, spoke my mind, or prioritised myself I was deemed selfish or a bitch and so, it was just easier to be easy-going.
Here’s the truth about healthy personal boundaries, if we don’t know what they are and we can’t or don’t communicate them, we will get f*#ked over by life.
This is not about being a tough, rigid, self-centered ice queen (or king) it’s about feeling confident enough in all aspects of our life to communicate our desires, preferences, needs, and limits.
The fact is, having poor boundaries holds us back from living a healthy, robust, and self-directed life. It creates co-dependency and dysfunctional relationships, blocking our growth and success.
We are so conditioned by our upbringing, society, to keep the peace, we are asked not to rock the boat, or not say how we really feel because we are taught that this is how we are nice and respectful to others.
But no one talks about at who’s expense? No one tells us over the years how this chips away at our self-worth, our confidence, and our authentic self.
No one wants to discuss the consequences of poor boundaries and the suffering it causes emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, (not to mention the divorce/separation rates that happen sooner or later) and certainly, no one is discussing the impact this has on our children’s future and their relationships and friendships (even now in the playground!).
Having clear and healthy personal boundaries is a fundamental life lesson we adults need to learn and teach our kids.
In my coaching programs I spend A LOT of time with my clients on this topic creating, applying and maintaining boundaries because it’s so hard for them to actually determine what they are and then implement them, and that’s okay. They are afraid of filtering out the boundary bullies in their life because they are usually faced with a shitshow but they also KNOW it is a crucial skill they must learn to establish a respectful and loving relationship with the most important person – themself.