Maybe we’ve set them. We’re pretty good at maintaining them. Then we get comfortable… then we let some things slide a bit… and then…
How about when someone inches across them? Even stomps on them? Then what?
Well, in my history, I allowed them to be obliterated. Then cried over the mess, wondering why the offender didn’t seem to care about, know or respect them. Gosh, can’t they see? I mean, really. Can’t they read minds? haha
It took me decades to finally understand some of these things:
a) People don’t always treat you the way you expect.
Contrary to what it may feel like sometimes, most people aren’t TRYING to treat you badly.
They might be having an off day. Maybe their boss was a jerk all day. Maybe they’re hungry. Maybe they have a lot on their mind.
Often times, people act from a place within that’s robotic. Autopilot. Running on programs that were put in place years ago. Childhood, maybe. So they have no idea, really, that it isn’t normal for you because they’re acting according to what’s normal for them.
b) Not everyone has the same boundaries, or personal requirements. Therefore, they don’t understand, or even think of what may be important to you. Because, it isn’t to them, personally.
We all have different personal requirements. For me, one of those is planning ahead. Sure I can be spontaneous sometimes. But due to medical issues, introvert issues, and other things, I prefer to plan ahead so I can prepare.
Other people may not understand when I get upset or decline an invitation, because they don’t have that “plan ahead” personal requirement.
Another example is, one person may require compliments or “atta boys/girls” in order to feel loved or appreciated. Someone else may like the dishes done for them, laundry started, the lawn mowed. More details on this type of thing is in a book I love called The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I highly recommend that book to EVERYONE in any kind of relationship. In fact, I recently learned that some companies utilize this with their employees (in a professional manner, of course).
c) If you don’t take charge of your own personal boundaries, no one else ever will.
I’m a late bloomer in a lot of things. This is one of them. Over the last 5 years or so, I started actually paying attention to my own personal boundaries. Learning what they are. Speaking them out loud to people. Maintaining and enforcing them, unapologetically, for the most part.
I’ll be honest. For most of that time, I had no “tact”. I was pretty mean a lot. I had to heal the years of feeling like a doormat.
Now, I have found peace within, regarding this. Well, mostly. It’s so important to keep diligent with setting, maintaining, and enforcing boundaries. Slipping into old habits happens quickly if we aren’t careful.
It can be a struggle to enforce boundaries with people close to you who are used to you being, well, easily manipulated? For lack of a better term. In my life, there was a lot of push-back, a lot of conflict, a lot of emotional struggle once I started maintaining my boundaries.
I’m happy to report, that for the most part, things have gotten so much smoother. The push-back isn’t there. While my boundaries might get tested sometimes, kind, but tough, reminders maintain things.
I respect my boundaries, I enforce them, and now, other people respect them. The people that don’t have sort of, exited my life or backed themselves out into the periphery. Totally OK.
The power is truly within us. There is no “victim”. We are empowered to make the changes we need, within ourselves. The natural next step is that others see us respecting ourselves in this way, and respond in kind.
The key to most anything is communication. It’s another personal requirement of mine, by the way. All we need is to talk together in a respectful way. Coming from a loving place leaves all the room we need to speak our truth. Honoring ourselves and other people.
HOW TO SET, MAINTAIN, AND ENFORCE BOUNDARIES
The greatest advice I got on this topic, was, to start with one person in my life at a time. I chose one person that I felt was taking advantage of me the most, and communicated my new boundaries to them. Repeatedly.
It’s a learning process for you, AND everyone in your life. Especially if you’ve gone your whole lifetime so far with a person (family member, for example) and with the relationship dynamic a certain way. It takes time for people to learn your new way of being. Be gentle, remind them lovingly, and don’t back down. By nature, probably subconsciously, some people will try to work around your new boundaries and you may not see it coming until you’ve gone back to old habits. Just pick up the new habit of enforcement again, and go on. Eventually your relationship with that person will evolve and be healthier. (Or not… they may fight against it the whole time because the relationship may have been one-sided and not genuine. In that case, you can choose to back away a bit, or totally, and so can they).
In my case, the person I started this with DOES go with the flow and respects my boundaries. It’s a nice, healthy way to be.
It is my hope and intention that this post has been helpful for you! We all deserve harmonious relationships. Healthy boundaries provide the framework.