Boundaries - such a bad word to so many.
kind of a joke word for some people. Yet not really. Most of the people I deal with have very poor boundaries and that makes their life so much harder than it needs to be. At every turn. Health is hard to find because stress keeps it in a poor place. Crisis and lack of time are the driving force. The boundaries they do create are not boundaries at all, they are shields against greater stress.
Most people are raised in boundary-less homes. That generally means that people are taught to give up all their needs for the people around them or the greater good. It is generally considered selfish to think of one’s own needs. That ends up becoming self-talk of worthlessness and undeserving later on.
Therefore, when parents come to me stressed out and wanting me to fix their kids and all the destructive behaviors and out of control fits, I can almost guarantee I know how their home is run. The kids are forced to share and be polite and they have way too many toys and nothing that belongs to them that they are allowed to control. The focus is on being kind and sharing and saying please and thank you. But no order really.
Learning how to negotiate or pointing out bad behaviors that are unacceptable or teaching better options and life skills is not even considered. Just share and be nice.
I watch parents talk until they are blue in the face speaking a foreign language and negotiating with humans that barely know how to not poop their pants and still throw food and scream to get their way (they are not taught table manners frequently because they eat in cars and on the run). Its mind boggling to think that adults think they can reason with unformed brains. But they do. So, they teach them what they know. Which is no boundaries. The stress grows for everyone. Exhaustion, rage and fits are the result. Sometimes parents resort to drugs, alcohol, sugar, TV or video games (addictions) are ways for these families to find peace. They check out or numb their emotions.
Not offering clear (yes, no, acceptable and unacceptable) leads a person to believe everything is negotiable. Even the current financial gurus of Christian churches teach that all things can be negotiated down. which is not true.
Safety comes from clarity not from negotiating. So does value.
Later in life that internal voice gets loud. Unworthy. Unworthy …My needs are not important. Love, respect are conditions of conformity. Not only is that the internal talk but those become the relationships that the person seeks to keep the status quo and feel normal. Unworthy, but normal. It feels comfortable because its familiar. Yet unsettling because it hurts the soul.
One of the biggest things I must ask is why do you allow people to speak to you the way they do.? Do you accept the version of disrespect they are projecting on you ?
When you lack boundaries there is nothing worth protecting. All things are negotiable and have no value. I always know a person raised with no boundaries based on how they treat other people’s things. For my mom it was people looking through her cabinets (she despised that- she taught me to never do that and if I had friends that got in places that were private, she called their parents to explain they were welcome, but this needed to be addressed) Her boundaries were very clear. I watch people that allow their kids play on adult musical instruments (my pet peeve- they are expensive and delicate) with no respect, I know the adults have no boundaries if they allow their kids to have none. The kids are unaware of their lines. Because the adults have none.
Those people generally do not see the value of things that belong to other people. They treat their things the same way and they teach their kids that respect is unnecessary. Its only things, is a common phrase out of boundaries peoples mouths. Have some Grace is another thing I hear. YIKES!!!
Those things are not just things – they represent a world view and how you receive love and matter in your own circle. Caring for something that matters to other people is respect. Respect means the boundary was clear and received.
Remember : In these families the worst thing to be is selfish. (Eric Dorsa)
No boundaries and your beliefs are nothing is worth protecting or matters. That grows as life carries on. It moves from things to self. It’s a helpless and powerless position. They acquire things but they don’t adore anything . They are not allowed to protect their things without feeling shamed for doing so. It does not fit all for one model and its only things banter.
Let me be the first to say. Your things matter. You do not have to worship them (that becomes a different problem) but you do have the right to expect that others treat your things with the respect that you deem necessary. That includes your time, money interests and it also includes kids behavior. The best place to learn respect is long before you realize you can manipulate people to get your way which is from birth. The longer no respect is allowed the harder it is to teach and to acquire. It becomes a world view.
For most people the first step to setting boundaries is to analyze your own beliefs of boundaries and your training or lack of training. Not wanting to feel selfish is big for these people. People pleasing is top priority and training. If you set a boundary, it’s the same as creating conflict. There is great shame attached with not being a GOOD person. Conflict is unsafe and love is threatened.
Boundary-less people will do anything to not feel emotionally uncomfortable. They cannot tolerate their own pain and for sure they cannot tolerate the pain of others. They must stop it. At all cost… Even if the pain is necessary to get to the other side.
“If you are walking through fire, keep walking “Winston Churchill"
The cost of stopping learning and growing pain is you stop the learning and growing.
Reality is boundaries let people in your life know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. Boundaries are the source of creating authentic connections and relationships. Most people want to be in authentic relationships not places where they must give all the time or act like a certain person to be accepted.
How do we know that a boundary is crossed? Generally, for most people they feel anger/shame. The world view and self was challenged. It’s a sense of safety and security that gets challenged.
Many people have no idea that their boundaries have been crossed until they are stressed or upset or angry because they never actually were clear with themselves as to where the line was in the first place. The rage or shame is the only mark they feel. They are still unclear because they never actually set a boundary.
I work with a lot of people that do not know their own boundaries and yet they expect others to adhere to them. Especially their kids. They are the people that tell me time out does not work. Why would it? your kids know you have no boundaries, they clearly know how to make sure it stays that way. Yes, even toddlers.
Boundaries are about respect. They are centered in integrity and ultimately dignity. They are not walls; they are lines. Not setting boundaries are walls built from poor coping styles and it makes the person with no boundaries look out of control a lot of the time (or they are the super nice person that is the sickest person in the family)
Boundaries are simply the path to mental health. Without them there is not mental health. Pretty simple concept. Hard to do but simple to see.
Without boundaries there is no mutual respect, the person generally has no idea where they begin and end. They are chasing their tail much the time.
You cannot help someone else set boundaries any more than they can help you. You have to dig deep in your own reality and set them and learn and grow from them.
People do not like when a boundary-less person sets boundaries. There is a lot of fussing. It does not feel good.
If you have kids that are disconnected from their actions and how they impact others that is a clear sign that boundaries are confusing. Likely the adults setting their example have poor boundaries set as well. If you have adults that are disconnected from their actions its helpful to set clear boundaries up
How does this impact health? I have more than 50% of my clients come to me because of out-of-control emotions that cause stress that cause chronic ill health issues. Those people do not have clear boundaries. Some have no boundaries at all. If you want overall health, you must have solid boundaries to be able to measure change and success. It takes time. And a fair amount of work and growing pains as you learn.