The journey to healing not only benefits from healthy boundaries, but it also requires them. Sometimes we don’t really know what healthy boundaries look like. I certainly didn’t know when I started my journey.
Quite frankly, a lack of boundaries can look different for everyone. For me, it looked like saying “yes” when I really wanted to say “no.” It was over-explaining my decisions to acquaintances and coworkers or making commitments that I didn’t have the capacity to handle at that moment. Boundaries remind you that you have the power to say no (even if you haven’t previously) and that it’s okay. Not sure where your boundaries stand as of now? Take the quiz to find out.
In fact, the concept of boundaries was so foreign to me that I decided I needed to research it and determine my next steps from an informed point-of-view. I learned a few key things through this research that are worth considering:
- There are different types of boundaries, and they all look very different
- You can evaluate boundaries to decide which will work best for your situation
- Boundaries, or the lack thereof, are like magnets: they attract people with opposing characteristics
- Healthy boundaries are about loving yourself AND others!
To further explain how the lack of boundaries might affect a life, let’s look at the following analogy:
Imagine a paper cup of water sitting on a table with a lid covering it. The pure water inside the cup is protected from outside contamination and is healthy for anyone who consumes it. Nothing from the outside can get into the pure, healthy water, and that’s by design. Then one day, the cover is removed, and holes are poked in the paper cup. The water spills out, becoming contaminated and leaving the cup exposed.
I was a pure, healthy person until I was sexually abused at a young age. At that moment, precisely what happened to that cup was suddenly happening to me. All of my perceived boundaries became warped, weak, and porous. I watched that purity spill out onto the table, and anything left in my cup was at high risk of becoming contaminated.
This often causes those with broken or weak boundaries to get into situations that are detrimental to their wellbeing. The germ will always find its way to it’s the most susceptible host, a negative magnet will always find its way to a positive one, and a strong personality will almost always find its weaker counterpart.
The fix? Boundaries. They’re the key to less stress, better friendships, and fewer instances of feelings like resentment and anger. And while it might seem like these changes will only impact you, the people closest to you will also feel the effects of your newfound boundaries. It’s essential that people closest to you know your boundaries, how to support you, and how their actions might affect said boundaries. In the best-case scenario, they would also begin building boundaries of their own.
The concept of boundaries can seem really straightforward and is absolutely freeing once you feel like you’ve gotten them all figured out, but the journey can be uncomfortable in the beginning. There are usually deeply-rooted emotions that make establishing boundaries difficult, and it will take time to understand and evaluate the causes, decide on your approach, practice, and execute. And even then, every day will require persistence.
Find your support system, ask for feedback and advice when you need it, determine the strength of your current boundaries, and begin healing on your own terms. There are also workshops like this one available to help you build your boundaries.