Boundaries are a vital key to success and without them life is stressful, unproductive and out of sync with our deepest desires.
1) Get your priorities straight. Choose boundaries that support and protect what matters most to you. If your heart’s desire is to start a business, write a book, or create an artistic masterpiece, then choose and commit to upholding boundaries that advance your priority. I know many people who are very clear about the dream they wish to create and they say it’s their #1 priority, but if you watched how they live, you’d never know it.
2) Don’t interrupt cause and effect. When we shield our older children (or even other adults) from the natural consequences of their actions (when not dangerous), we clip their wings, rob them of lessons, and destroy the boundaries that will make our and ultimately their lives better. (I’m having to add caveats her for those who apply ideas absolutely literally. LOVE and protect your children from harm and let them learn life lessons.)
3) Empower your children. Empowering our children to say “No” to things they don’t like or want (when it’s not harmful) gives them the ability to say no to peers later. Be careful about forcing children into compliance—by chastising, punishing or withholding your love when you aren’t happy with them. This is how people pleasing is cultivated. If you want to raise strong adults who feel confident and trust themselves – honor their feelings. This does not mean tolerate terrible behavior and disrespect. Children do need to know where the walls in their life are. (Read the section called: The Goddess Mother in Resurrecting Venus for an in depth discussion.)
4) Watch for resistance. Ask yourself whether the actions you take and the choices you make actually support what you want for your life. When you find yourself crossing the boundaries and failing to uphold the commitments you’ve created for yourself, examine the source of your resistance. Are you afraid of what “they” will think, or afraid of being disliked, failing, or succeeding? Your fears make for merciless rulers, don’t let them control you. This is your life.
5) Accept and respect. When you accept and respect the boundaries of others you’ll feel better about setting and upholding your own.
6) Destroy the pedestals. Your boundaries are your boundaries. If you wouldn’t let your cousin talk to you a certain way, don’t let your boss talk to you that way. You don’t need to aggress her, just state clearly: I will not remain here while you talk to me this way; I am going to remove myself from this interaction. When you are able to speak calmly and decently to me, call me (and then leave). It will be scary and yes they could retaliate and fire you, or if it’s your husband they could leave and that might put you in a bind, but this is either an inevitable outcome or a prison sentence. There are other jobs and relationships that will respect, honor and appreciate you.
7) Warning #1 When you begin to set boundaries, your relationships may change. You may experience intense outbursts from others who have come to see you as someone they can control. Some may even decide that you are no longer useful to them because you aren’t amenable to doing what they want. Don’t cling to a façade for fear of losing it. You cannot lose what does not exist (you don’t have a relationship based on love and mutual respect here). If people only like you when you’re doing what they want, they don’t really like you and that’s perfectly okay. Let go and make room for someone who will. The world has whatever experience you want.
8) Warning #2 When you begin to set boundaries you may notice anger welling up inside as you start setting and upholding them. This frustration and upset comes from the realization that you’ve let people go too far for too long and you’re seeing what it has cost you. Remind yourself that it’s not the other person’s fault that you didn’t train them as to how to treat you. You didn’t do your part. Forgive yourself and them and focus on what you can change: the present. Things will get better.
9) Do no harm. Helping another when it harms you is something to be chosen only after very careful consideration. There may be situations where you choose this (you’ve got the flu and your friend’s loved one dies – you may cross your boundary of healing self care to be with them), but these situations are rare. If you’re in bed with the flu and your friend calls for a ride to the airport because it’s cheaper than parking there or taking a shuttle, uphold your boundary. When your church wants to build a new building and you can’t keep a roof over your head, don’t give money. Your giving is between you and your creator and everything including money is energy. If you’re short in money energy and you want to give, give your time and talents. The next point is similar:
10) To thine ownself be true (someone famous said that). Do not give against your true and authentic desires. Give only when you are aligned within. When you go against yourself, you weaken your self-perception and trust. You give your power away. In upholding this boundary, you won’t become a selfish jerk. In fact, in my experience you’ll become a more joyful giver because you’ll be feeling good about it.
What boundaries could you set today? How can you take better care of you?
Photo credit: bjorkdman