There’s no better feeling in life than when we can honestly say that in this moment, in the now, we feel content and fulfilled with our lives. It's a state of being where we’re in balance with our needs and desires. Where our purpose and core values are aligned with intention. Fully engaged with life and secure with ourselves. In touch with our emotional needs. It’s not hard to understand and most of us want to feel like this, but why does it feel like such a struggle to get there?
The answer can be found in how we develop and define our personal boundaries to raise our self-esteem and integrity. We stumble at times with blockages and self-created negative emotions and doubts. Until we learn the art of creating boundaries we will always stumble and fall.
The question is the same for all of us, how do we set boundaries that keep us focused on living and growing as human beings?
The fact of the matter is all that remains, to be truly happy is to know what we want and how to achieve it. We can set goals and make our vows and promises. Happiness becomes easier when we know our true limits and aren’t afraid to voice them to others. This is how we learn more about ourselves and move forward on our life’s journey with confidence, self-respect, and gratitude.
BOUNDARIES CREATE OUR BEST SELVES
When we are able to define our boundaries and express them clearly we are best able to create our best selves and happier lives. This sounds easy but too often we make them more complicated than necessary. We might be too strident or too and trigger emotions in others. It can seem like a step backward and create even more confusion. We might lack the perspective to see them clearly. We might be shamed into feeling selfish or annoying and let our true feelings go. We know that boundaries if applied improperly can stir up insecurities in ourselves and others. Some might see a boundary as an attack on their ego and reality. These issues can make setting boundaries seem difficult or impossible, but the stronger our resolve the easier it will be to accomplish our intentions. We can take it slow and take it in steps. We can stop mindlessly “going with the flow” and stand up for ourselves for the first time. We can be respectful of others in every situation and occurrence when they listen to us. Healthy and defined boundaries help us begin to show up for our lives with promise.
While setting boundaries can help us lead more productive and happier lives they are increasingly becoming tools to control other’s behaviors and actions. Misuse of boundaries is never justified in any situation.
TYPES OF BOUNDARIES
1. Emotional boundaries are how we expect others to treat and speak with us. This is often undeclared initially and happens after the offensive act. When an emotional boundary is crossed there’s no resolution unless the transgression is openly discussed and validated with facts. The best way to do this is to be direct and ask to speak about the incident. Being self-aware of our role and taking responsibility is a great way to make the boundary clear and understandable in future interactions. This also allows us to build more self-confidence as well as self-esteem.
2. Physical boundaries involve body autonomy and respect for personal space. In this case, it’s best to set expectations beforehand before they get out of control. Anyone who’s been groped or worse uninvited can attest to how many different emotions can arise when our physical boundaries are disrespected. It can lead to depression, low self-esteem, and self-harm. Know that it’s always healthy and life-affirming to give ourselves permission to speak and inform.
3. Sexual boundaries are similar to physical boundaries and should be vocalized without making assumptions. It’s lazy to assume what someone else is thinking or feeling. It’s sexier to get a green light and create a more intense connection. Trust is a two-way street in any relationship. It can be a great source of comfort and happiness.
4. Workplace boundaries are how we set the tone for our professional careers. It’s important to be clear about how we will be spoken to and what tone is acceptable. It’s never acceptable to suffer from abuse in order to stay with a job. Workplace boundaries define how we want to be treated and how we treat others.
5. Material boundaries are usually when someone wants to use something that we possess. They may want to borrow a book or use our cars. This can be very awkward and needs to be addressed with care. Identify any rules or instructions and make sure they are clearly acknowledged. It’s not worth losing a trusted friend for lack of information or guidelines. It’s okay to be generous and able to share, people will show us who they are by their actions. Listen to the inner voice that guides us and tells us the answers. Most of the time our inner voice is usually right.
6. Time boundaries usually fall under two categories: Those who are always late and those who always arrive inconveniently early. Both have their shortcomings and can be equally annoying. It’s never fun to have someone early and breathing down our necks and the stress from waiting and not knowing when someone’s going to show up can ruin an occasion. There are choices we can make to find a resolution:
--Have a set time that we will wait past an agreed meeting time. How much time are we willing to give this person and what opportunities are we missing? Twenty minutes or ten?
--Be able to give permission to cancel an event or appointment if the time isn’t met.
--If dealing with someone who’s chronically late, let them know that you’re willing to give them some slack but be clear with timing. We can’t change them, but we can let them know that we were looking forward to seeing them, but our time must be respected.
No matter how hard we try with some people they will break our boundaries regardless of our stated feelings. This is the time when it’s healthy to analyze the friendship and consider the value. Too often we let this give us feelings of guilt and shame. It’s never our fault if we know that we’ve tried our best. Know when to let go and disengage in the future. Guilt is a self-created emotion that too many of us endure. There’s no benefit in punishing ourselves when we’re strong in our beliefs and have core values and set boundaries. The world is never a better place, and we are never happy when we sacrifice our lives for others. We will always find more happiness when we make a stronger commitment to ourselves!