Boundaries… Get Some!
Several people have said, “The truth will set you free, but it will piss you off first.”
Warning…. This post may piss you off.
Don’t let that scare you away because as the quote implies – freedom lies on the other side of feeling angry about how we get in our own way.
I have felt angry (defensive, judgmental, in denial, sarcastic, etc.) several times in my life when someone had the guts to tell me something about myself I did not want to hear.
But do you know what happened? Those hurt feelings transformed into personal growth once I opened my mind enough to take in another’s perspective and accept I have blind spots in my character.
A huge area I struggled with is relationships, and more to the point… having (and holding) boundaries.
I’m here to tell you today, if you’re struggling in relationships, you have boundary issues. I know, because I have them, too.
Let me repeat that… If you’re struggling in relationships, you have boundary issues.
I’m going to tell you (through my own personal journey), how to develop boundaries and STOP PAINTING RED FLAGS GREEN!
Boundaries? What Are Boundaries?
The other day, a seven-year old asked me what boundaries are because he overheard me talking about them. If I can explain it to a seven-year-old, then you can understand it, too. It’s really not that complicated.
I explained that boundaries are choices we make of what we are and are not willing to do.
It’s that simple.
Based on those choices, we take or do not take certain actions.
For instance, if someone asks me to do something I feel uncomfortable doing (and I really do not want to do it), I say “no.”
Pro-tip: “No” is a complete sentence. We do not owe people an explanation.
You will develop strong boundaries when you become aware of your no’s and yes’s and start speaking them.
Yes, it’ll feel awkward and uncomfortable at first. And the more you do it, the easier it’ll get and the better you’ll feel about yourself.
“Say what you mean, and say it without being mean.” -Anonymous
Internal and External Boundaries
Simply put, internal boundaries are decisions we make of what we are or are not willing do.
For instance, I am not willing tell super-personal intimate details about myself to someone unless I feel safe and trust who I’m talking to.
I choose not to indulge in self-pity or make excuses for myself.
I choose to give myself regular positive affirmations rather than self-criticism.
I’m also not willing to reach out to my ex. I don’t try to rescue people.
I’m not willing to tell other adults what to do (this one I walk the line on because of the nature of being a life coach). I’m a greater fan of leading people to discover their own solutions through personal example and encouragement.
Internal boundaries are how I govern my actions and treat myself.
External boundaries are what I allow to happen in my life.
For instance, I do not drink or smoke, ergo, I stay out of bars, and I do not date women who drink or smoke.
I’m living a life of positivity and abundance, therefore, I choose to spend my time with people who are also doing the same thing.
I limit the amount of time I spend with people who chronically express negativity.
If someone behaves in a way I find offensive, I have some choices.
You always have choices.
People without choices are victims.
We are not victims, we are volunteers.
I had a friend tell me, “We teach people how to treat us.” If I condone unacceptable behavior, then I am giving that person permission to treat me that way.
**Mind you, setting and holding boundaries is not telling people what to do. It’s telling them what I will do if their behavior I find unacceptable continues.
There is a big difference.
For instance, if someone says something aggressive or abusive to me, I have at least a couple choices.
One, I ignore the behavior (and try to give them the benefit of the doubt), and I remove myself from the situation. Disengagement. Don’t feed into the drama.
If I want to nurture the relationship… Two, I point out the behavior, my feeling, my request, and what I will do if the behavior continues. (Use I statements).
Here’s an example of what to say: “I noticed when I asked you to help me with the dishes, you raised your voice and cussed. When you did that, I felt afraid, sad, and disappointed. I am happy to hear why you do not want to do the dishes when you speak to me in a respectful tone. If you are going to raise your voice, I will not listen until you can speak to me respectfully.”
We’re not telling them to use a respectful tone, we’re asking them to and letting them know, WE will not listen until they can.
This takes a lot of practice! Tone and timing are everything, but it’s worth it!
Find Out What You Want
Finding out what you want is easier said than done for many people.
If I asked you what you want, many of you would struggle with answering that question. I know because I have for many years.
So many of you were told that what you wanted and felt did not matter. Maybe not in those exact terms, but somehow your truth was invalidated.
My father criticized nearly everything I did and said. If I was happy, it was wrong. If I was creative, I was “manic.” I talked too much. If I cried, he’d give me a reason to cry. Why would I even start something new, I never finish what I start? The list of dad’s greatest hits of self-defeating scripts goes on and on.
The only thing that mattered was maintaining hypervigilance to make sure I did not piss him off and feel the wrath of his anger and violence.
I became very good at being a people-pleaser, a perfectionist, and a chameleon.
It made making decisions nearly impossible. If I thought my choices would make someone else unhappy, then I couldn’t make that choice. It paralyzed me, and I did not know what I wanted or what my truth was. What do I want for dinner? I don’t know, what do you want?
Here’s The Part That Will Piss You Off
That condition is called codependency. It’s a complete disconnect from our authentic selves. Granted it’s just one manifestation of codependency, but it’s a biggie.
The way to learn how to get past being a people-pleaser or super controlling is to heal through your codependency.
Most people hate the word codependency.
It’s not a judgment!
It’s not a criticism.
It’s a neutral word that describes a condition where people are doing the best they can to get their needs met, and in the long run they are unhappy and have strained relationships.
That’s it! You’re not a bad person.
You’re doing the best you can and you deserve so much more.
Now’s the time to find out what you want and need.
Ready Pia Mellody’s book, Facing Codependence.
Learn about internal and external boundaries.
Learn what YOU want and need.
Learn how to get what you want and need.
You can break the cycle of repeating the same mistakes over and over.
You can choose happiness and the freedom to be you!
Stop Painting Red Flags Green!
Oh yeah, that…
So many people I know (including myself) want to find a romantic partner.
The problem is, until you do the work to heal childhood wounds and figure out what your internal and external boundaries are (write down what you want and need), you will continue to attract the same partner.
Your picker isn’t broken. It works 100%. You keep picking the same dysfunctional loser (wounded person) to replay out childhood patterns.
Ouch! Sorry to rip that Band Aid off! #sorrynotsorry
If this pisses you off, then it’ll set you free if you make some changes in your life.
What are red flags?
You know damn well what they are!
They are things about your love-interest that you are not okay with.
If you don’t smoke or drink, they do, and you don’t want to be with someone who smokes or drinks – THAT’S A RED FLAG!!!
If you are not attracted the person, but you feel lonely and they are paying attention to you, so you hook up with them anyway – THAT IS A RED FLAG!!!
DON’T PAINT RED FLAGS GREEN!
A Red Flag is A Red Flag. It is not Green. Don’t make it okay, if it’s not okay!
When you do the work of deciding what you want in a partner and are aware of what those boundaries are, you do not need to ignore your wants, needs, or gut to get attention!
Do the work!
Hold out for the person who lights your soul on fire or whatever your standard is.
Figure out your boundaries and don’t compromise them.
If this post pissed you off, you are well on your way to recovery, provided you open your mind and take some action.
Get some help. I couldn’t do this work alone. There are plenty of books, support groups, and therapists who can help you have the life you want.
Spoiler Alert: Books alone will not work! This is a problem that must be worked out with other people. It is not an intellectual exercise! You have to experience healing with real people who are doing the same thing.
I am also here to help. Drop me an email at email@example.com or check out my Instagram @greenleaf4life.
I have years of experience healing from this crap! I have fucking boundaries and am damn proud of it! I love myself enough to keep them.
I will show you how I did it so you can, too!
Remember, boundaries are meant to be pushed up against.
Boundaries can be moved (by your choice).
They are permeable (can see through them like a chain link fence).
They are not walls!
The people in your life may take six months (if ever) to catch up to your new boundaries.
You may lose some people in your social circle because of boundaries.
Make a decision that you matter.
Develop and practice your boundaries.
And for the love of God, STOP PAINTING RED FLAGS GREEN!
A Red flag is a Red flag. No amount of love is going to change it Green.
Find your Green Flags!
If you liked what you read (or if it pissed you off 😉 ), drop me a comment. If you’d like to connect or have a topic about mental health recovery you want to hear about, subscribe and reach out.
Thank you and be well 🙂