Are you tired of feeling unheard and exhausted when it comes to managing your relationships? Cultivating healthy boundaries with the people you love is a necessity to thriving relationships in this day and age. Yet for many of us, just the idea of setting clear boundaries can leave you riddled with guilt and breaking out in anxious hives. But it doesn’t have to.
As a middle child, for the longest time, I was your stereotypical people pleaser with horrible boundaries. I said yes to everything, tried to take on the weight of other people’s problems, and was always the first to “compromise.” Continually hoping my contributions would eventually give me the confidence to ask for what I need.
When I finally understood these four essential truths about boundaries, I was able to conquer my fear, establish boundaries, and sustain healthy relationships.
It’s a Boundary- Not A Wall
Healthy boundaries are not concrete walls that trap us but doors with handles (and sometimes with locks) that welcome others in AND offer protection.
When my boundaries are respected, my loved ones are more than welcome through the door. When they violate a set boundary, I am under no obligation to open that door until they abide by that boundary. I’m doing neither of us any favors by making exceptions. And as much as some may say otherwise, requiring someone abides by a boundary is not mean, it’s healthy.
Boundaries Address A Behavior, Not An Intention
A boundary is a response to not being treated with kindness or respect, not a reflection of someone’s intention. A good intention never excuses cruel words or threatening actions.
This concept can be especially difficult to remember with the passive-aggressive loved ones in your life. We all know the aunt, sibling or even parent with the sly comment does or consistently does the opposite of what you asked. When confronted they typically become defensive, pleading that they are “just trying to help” or they “have always done it this way without a problem.”
Do not get sucked into an argument about intentions or their experience and never get caught up in defending yourself. Restate your boundary and move on. An example of this could be “Thank you for inviting us, but I will need to leave by 8 pm. If we are not able to finish dinner by then, we will need to reschedule or leave before it’s over.”
Boundaries Are A Sign of Respect
After establishing a boundary, it’s not uncommon for loved ones, especially older generations, to become offended and declare your lack of respect. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Healthy boundaries and the ability to communicate them are clear indicators of the respect you have for yourself. No one with a healthy sense of self-worth allows others to treat them as a doormat. You are valuable beyond measure, and you are allowed to wave goodbye to ANYONE who does not treat you that way.
Kindness Does Not Equal Trust
Kindness and trust are two separate ball games, and no one should weaponize your compassion into to guilt you into trusting them.
- Just because you are kind to a family member does not mean you have to trust them with your children.
- Being kind to a co-worker does not mean you have to trust them with insider knowledge.
- Showing kindness does not mean you have to trust them with your car, your home, your reputation, or your heart.
Let me repeat it for the people in the back:
Kindness does not equal trust.
Standing your ground and insist your trust is earned. You won’t be popular, but anyone willing to earn your trust is worth their weight in gold.
You can do this!
Deep breath dear one. Cultivating healthy boundaries is not easy and requires patience with yourself, but I guarantee it’s completely worth it. On the other side of establishing healthy boundaries, there are peaceful relationships full of respect and love. And you deserve to be treated that way by the people who care for you.
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