Healthy Boundaries - Part I
Healthy Boundaries – Part I
by Saundra Berry, C.Ht.
Healthy boundaries are something that we set in order to honor our emotional health, personal beliefs, values, and personal integrity. Healthy boundaries speak to our feelings about our own self-worth. Each of us has limits/boundaries and when they are crossed, we speak out on our willingness NOT to accept certain behaviors.
When we have healthy boundaries, it is to say, that our emotional well-being is important to us and we won’t sacrifice our personal integrity for anyone. It says, “I am just as important as anyone else!” Although boundaries are not “written” they are the integral code that we live by. We must have and set healthy boundaries. Think about this; it is said that we teach others how to treat us by the strength and depth of our personal boundaries.
Our first introduction to boundaries is when we are children. We are taught that we must be honest, trustworthy, courteous, and kind, compassionate, law abiding citizens, to help others, and the list goes on and on.
So, if we are faced with a dishonest person we tend to not trust them and therefore we choose, to avoid those that are dishonest, based on our boundary and integrity of the importance we place on honesty. Perhaps we meet someone that bullies others, and because of our learned boundaries and personal values, we speak out in service to those being bullied, that the behavior of bullying is unacceptable, thereby setting a boundary that we will not tolerate bullying, in any form.
For some, setting boundaries is easy. These are people that acknowledge and embrace that their feelings and ideals are important. When their boundaries are crossed they have no problem speaking out to correct what they believe to be an injustice. They have no fear associated with setting boundaries because they were given a strong foundation and are acutely aware of what is acceptable to them and what is not. They have healthy boundaries.
However, there are many that have a difficult time setting healthy boundaries. They might even believe that setting boundaries is mean or shows bad manners. Often, these are people that have been raised in a home that did not have boundaries. There are many that were brought up in abusive situations and they did not have clear boundaries, or had no boundaries at all. For instance, if someone was abused, whether physically or emotionally, they are forced to do what ever it takes to survive. They have learned that in order to keep the peace they must endure the abuse because to speak out might cause them to be abused more. Often, these children come to believe that their needs are not important and that their feelings do not matter. If this is the case, in adulthood, they have a difficult time setting boundaries and often end up in abusive situations because of the lack of knowledge of healthy boundaries.
Learning how to set healthy boundaries can be a challenge for some, but setting healthy boundaries can be learned. It is important to start at the beginning. If your life feels as though it has become unmanageable and you find yourself in the company of those that question your limits, or if you have no limits, it is time to take a personal inventory. Meaning, it is time to sit down with a pen and paper, or at the computer, and begin to find out what makes you tick. Knowing what you are truly about is where you must start. We must know what our beliefs are in order to set boundaries. We need to know what our own codes of ethics truly are. We need to know what it is that we will accept and what we won’t. We must know why we feel a certain way with regard to our own personal behavior and the behavior of others. In order to do this we need to answer some questions about who we really are and how we view ourselves.
While thinking about your life, when you view an injustice toward someone else, what action do you take, if any, to speak out on the injustice? Do you turn a blind eye? Or do you speak to the issue head on?
What actions do you take when you are the focus of the injustice? Do you begin to feel fearful and turn a blind eye? Do you speak to the issue head on? Or do you turn a blind eye?
Let us look at the answers that you provided to the questions above. Are you someone that will speak out for others but ignore your own needs? If so, at the core you view others as being more valuable than you view your own value and self-worth. Before I move forward, if you value others’ more than you value yourself, I want to speak to that issue.
Let me be very clear, each of us were born on this earth with our own unique gifts. No one is better at being you than you. You are one of a kind; there is not another human being that possesses your unique gifts. You were born, because you have lessons to learn and lessons to teach, simply by just being you. You are valuable! Your feelings matter! You are important! You ARE a BLESSING on this earth! If you have never known it before, know it now, YOU ARE IMPORTANT AND NEEDED ON THIS EARTH! Setting healthy boundaries is an opportunity to let others know how to treat you. To treat you with respect, kind consideration, compassion and love; you DESERVE at least these and even more. If you are struggling with self-worth, begin by writing this affirmation at least three times daily. The more you write the affirmation, the more it will become part of the core of who you really are meant to be. It is through writing the affirmation that you acknowledge that you are worthy of receiving all of the good that the Universe has to offer. You deserve all the good that is coming to you now and always. As you are writing the affirmation, commit it memory and begin saying it to yourself as a daily mantra. The more you acknowledge your own self-worth, the more your beliefs about your self-worth will begin to change. Remember, You Are Worth It!
I am worthy of respect, kindness, love, compassion, and understanding. My feelings matter. I am worthy. I am deserving. I matter. I am worthy.
With that being said, let’s continue on with the questions and answers to setting healthy boundaries.
Do you believe that everyone has limits? What are your limits? What is it that you will accept from others and yourself with regard to limits?
What are your deal breakers? In other words, what behaviors will you NOT condone? For instance, if you were brought up in a home or have ever lived with an alcoholic and you or someone you loved were abused because of the alcohol, in some way, your personal limit might be to not condone the use of habitual alcohol use or abuse of alcohol. This is setting a healthy boundary, that you will not accept someone who abuses alcohol or drugs into your life. Perhaps you have dealt with people that have been dishonest and their dishonesty has harmed you or someone you love, in some way. Therefore, you will have a healthy boundary that dishonesty will not be tolerated in your life.
Are you willing to overlook a “deal-breaker” when it involves someone that you love? Are you flexible with your limits or do they apply to everyone across the board? If you are flexible, ask yourself what you fear about sticking to your personal boundaries. Why are you willing to compromise your beliefs?
How about at work? If your co-worker is stealing from the work place and they do it in front of you, what do you do? Do you talk to the person and let them know that you know they are stealing and it isn’t acceptable? Or do you turn a blind eye? What would happen if you confronted them and they continued to do it? Would you honor your boundary by talking to the boss about the stealing? What about if your boss is being dishonest, mean, or abusive? Do you allow this behavior? Or do you confront them and let them know that you will not be treated in an abusive manner?
Let’s say that you are in the lunch room at work and people are gathered around the “water-cooler” talking about someone else. Do you join in or do you vacate the room? Or do you speak up and let them know that you don’t approve of this type of office “gossip”? Maybe you are at dinner with a few people when someone tells an inappropriate “joke”, perhaps with racial undertones, do you sit silently? Do you speak up? Or do you laugh even when you didn’t approve? In these scenarios, think about this; simply by “standing by” you are teaching those involved that you are “okay” with this behavior, even though you really aren’t. So, are your boundaries steadfast or are they waning?
In setting healthy boundaries, we must be clear about who we are and what it is that we want from our lives. We must know where we draw the “boundary” lines and we must be willing to stand up and defend our boundaries, even when it isn’t convenient to do so.
If you are having difficulty setting healthy boundaries, I ask you to ponder the questions above. Write out your answers and review them. Look at where you stand on certain issues and decide if you want to make a change in order to live the wonderfully blessed life that you were born to live. Decide what changes you are willing to make to set healthy boundaries in your life.
“You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to.” ~Author Unknown
In my next writing, I will finish up with how we set healthy boundaries, with friends and family in Healthy Boundaries Part II.
Saundra Berry, C.Ht.
©2013 Saundra Berry, C.Ht. All rights reserved.
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