One of the biggest mistakes I have when it comes to setting boundaries is thinking (or hoping) that the person I am attempting to set limits with will understand me (and why I have the values I have) they do not need to understand me, I need to understand myself.
In the book ‘Be yourself everyone else is already taken’ by Mike Robbins Part One Titled ‘Why it can be hard to be authentic’, he gives examples- the first example is Family: ” most families- even ‘healthy’ ones have a lot of unsolved issues, conflicts, and unexpressed emotions that have an impact on each person within the family individually and the family unit collectively. This causes us to create certain dynamics in our families in which each of us plays a specific role based on years of unconscious thoughts, feelings and behavior. These roles often create a lot of pain and frustration for us and others in our families, and they’re not conductive to us being who we really are.”
Once we begin to go within, really get to know who we are and what we value, we may find those values are different from our family. I will never forget when the subject of religion first came up in conversation at a family dinner. My husband ‘admitted’ that we do not practice organized religion (it was expected that our family would choose that particular spiritual path) he was actually called a traitor for leaving his religious denomination~ it it was no joke.
Families can literally be torn apart when people decide to be authentic and their values differ (change of religion or spiritual preference, coming out/ sexual orientation, interracial marriage ~just to name a few) It takes courage to be authentic within your own family, especially if you decide to take a different path from what is expected of you.
I was raised in a household where there was a lot of arguing and we did not fight fair. Family members would justify abusive behavior.
My husband and I have made a commitment to have a more healthy functional family dynamic. Personal attacks (name calling, character assassination) is a form of verbal abuse. My husband and I have decided we will no longer accept personal attacks- we have set a limit. After we had children, we decided we would honor our promise to them and not allow this (from anyone including family members) regardless of the excuse. This is just one example (we have many) of a personal boundary we have set for our family ~ it is a ‘family rule’.
Limits are making clear what you will and will not accept in your life.
Setting limits with family members can be very challenging if you have had boundary issues in your family in the past. Some family members can take it personally (or even consider it an insult) when you stand up for yourself and are clear about what you will and will not accept. They are used to you accepting certain behaviors from them, now you have changed- it is can be very uncomfortable, even threatening to them.
“How many people sit back, don’t stand up in regard to someone else’s inapplicable behaviour, and grant feedback. They hope that someone else in this person’s life will do the job! This is not responsible human interaction. You are not being responsible to them, and you are not being responsible to yourself. Feedback does not mean changing them or getting them to see your point of view. It may be a statement of your truth and then you leaving if the behaviour doesn’t change. Feedback does mean no longer staying in the presence of the abuse and feeding it – such as arguing with it, or tolerating it.” ~Malanie Tonia Evans
How do you create a boundary?
1. Decide what you will accept and what you will not. If you find someone is crossing your boundaries, describe the behavior you find unacceptable.
2. Describe what action steps you will take if your boundary is violated.
3. Enforce your boundaries if necessary.
Don’t get pulled into the drama!
Every time I try to get out… THEY PULL ME BACK IN!” – Michael Corleone The Godfather 3
Explain your position in as few words as possible. You do not need to justify why you feel the way you do (you have a right to have your own preferences of what you will accept and what you will not) If the person does not respect you however, they may try to invalidate you. If they do this, it is a clear sign that they do not respect your feelings or your boundaries. Don’t take the bait! They may want to argue and try to get you to second guess your values, they may be accusatory- claiming you are trying to control, threaten, blame, or manipulate them. Stick to the consequences you have set regarding their unacceptable behavior, regardless of the other parties reaction to you setting your limits.
Setting boundaries is not an attempt to try and control someone (although they may try to accuse you of this) It is simply a consequence to another person’s behavior toward you that you find unacceptable. Setting boundaries defines what is acceptable to you and and what is not. Setting boundaries is vital to your well being and self esteem.
Setting boundaries is not a threat (although it could be perceived as that because some find change very uncomfortable and like the relationship just how it is) It is communicating clearly what the consequences will be if the person behaves in a way that is unacceptable to you. It is a consequence of the other persons behavior- they choose to continue to treat you unacceptably, and therefore they choose the consequence.
Setting a boundary is not manipulation. When you set a boundary you let go of the outcome, if the person chooses to leave the relationship (because you have stated you cannot have contact if they continue the behavior that is unacceptable), this is their choice.
Setting boundaries is not blaming: You are not blaming the other person for how you feel, you are simply telling the other person what will happen if they continue to treat you in a way that you find unacceptable.
How a person responds to your emotional honesty will depend on:
1. How much they respect you
2. How much they care about your feelings
3. How insecure and defensive they are
4. How much they are trying to control you
All of this is information that will help you make decisions which are in your best interest. From Invalidation Page
What setting boundaries means:
- Setting boundaries means you are taking responsibility and standing by your personal code of ethics and values.
- Setting boundaries reflect your right to say NO to things that are not right for you.
- Setting boundaries means you are learning the importance of self-care, self respect, and self love.
- Setting boundaries emerge when we learn to go within, listen to our authentic selves, value our own decisions and trust ourselves.
- Setting boundaries emerge from knowing what you believe, dislike, or like is important and relevant.
- Setting boundaries emerge from deep introspection and the realization of what you deserve and do not deserve.
About setting boundaries:
- You cannot control other people’s reactions to you when you set your boundaries and limits- they may be hurt, angry, dissatisfied, or disappointed with you.
- You will be tested when you attempt to set boundaries.
- You may feel unsure, afraid or uncomfortable when you initially set your boundaries
- Be brief with your explanation when setting a boundary, and if possible do not show anger.
- Some people may appreciate the fact that you set limits on how you will be treated (this is a sign of someone who has high self esteem)
- Listen to your gut- if something does not feel right (you feel anger, frustration, or threatened) this may be a sign that boundaries need to be set.
- Stand by your boundaries and follow through with the consequences you lined out.
Resource: Personal Boundaries
“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my challenges are preparing me for the next exciting phase of my life.” Cheryl Richardson
As I am writing this Ann Curry of NBC news just announced on a commercial ” In America a hate crime is committed every hour, teach your children to embrace differences, let’s stop the clock” very fitting I think…..