Welcome to another episode of Wild and Precious Conversations. This week it’s just me again, this time contemplating boundaries. What they are, how to know and set your limits, and why or why not this should start early.
Of course as soon as I decided that I was going to take a look at mental flexibility via relationship boundaries, I knew I was in trouble.
Boundaries and I have a long and fraught history. A child of the summer of love, I came of age when it was normal to fire “stewardesses” for getting married or, God forbid, pregnant. It was pretty normal to tolerate people disrespecting your physical boundaries in the workplace and at home, “all in good fun.”
You know, “the good old days.” So, over the past week or so, boundary issues have popped up here and there and I have been really aware of them. A few examples: A lovely dear old friend who I think of as an aunt posted a meme about how important it is to be “color blind” I know she meant well, but for many reasons, I decided to respectfully stand by my sister and explain that many people take issue with color blindness when it comes to race/ethnicity. Yikes. Boundaries. It felt important but it also brought up the boundary in that relationship…and that I was pushing up against it. Uncomfortable but healthy.
Or this morning, when, instead of focusing on my own stuff, I decided to spend a good long time worrying about and considering my family’s stuff…even though I wasn’t asked, it wasn’t needed, and the net result was that my stuff is still there, waiting for me to deal with it. Uncomfortable, but in a slightly unhealthy way. :)
The limits we set in our relationships — boundaries. These can be
We often fluctuate between weak and rigid…beginning with weak boundaries, where we may say “Yes” too often in order to avoid conflict, we may share too much, and we may end up feeling exhausted, taken advantage of, depleted.
At which point, we may valiantly say, “Never again!” and put up rigid boundaries, where we say “No!” too often in order to protect ourselves, not share at all, and feel alienated, misunderstood, and lonely.
There are lots of ways to slice boundaries but what works for me and may work for you is to divide them into 5 categories:
You have the right to know and set limits in these 5 areas of your life in your relationships. At work, school, home, etc.
The best way to learn healthy boundaries is through modeling, which happens as you grow in your family of origin. At home, school, sports teams, religious organizations, etc, healthy boundaries would be modeled for you and you would then learn, easily, what the healthy limits are in your culture.
So. In case that didn’t happen for you as a child growing up, it’s doable to learn as an adult. First, simply becoming aware of what your limits are is helpful. I didn’t mention this in the episode, but a couple obvious things to note here:
First, we do live in social groups and there are norms that do exist. Most of the times, the negotiation is subtle and happens fairly naturally, but there is a give and take with all boundaries. An example was how challenging the #MeToo movement was for some people. Our cultures boundaries changed, quickly.
Second, this podcast episode is not tackling serious boundary abuse — in cases of serious physical or emotional abuse of boundaries, it’s important to seek professional help.
What I talked about:
Onward. Next week we continue this series on Connectedness (see, it’s all connected :)) I’m going to explore boundaries for one more week as I look at them from childhood on and how they have changed culturally over the last decades.
The Underbelly Project: A weekly workout for your emotional strength and flexibility. If you’re not afraid to get dusty and maybe shed a few tears together, join me and let’s get emotionally strong!
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