You lock your doors. You’ve got pin numbers and passwords. Wifi is encrypted. You know that boundaries are important to stay safe. BUT, how conscientious are you about protecting your own personal boundaries?
Are your personal boundaries too high, too low, or just right?
What does a healthy boundary look like? Picture a house with windows and doors. You can choose to open them for some people and close them for others. You can walk through the doors anytime to go outside. You lock the doors to protect what’s inside when you want to. Maybe there’s a fence around your property to keep pets and kids safely contained. The fence keeps stray dogs from coming into your yard.
In healthy relationships, we keep similar emotional and physical boundaries. We want to let people into our lives without feeling like we’ve been hit by a Mack truck. Or keep them out without feeling like a beast.
Knowing and respecting our personal space requirements protects us from those people who come barging into our space without restraint. When that happens, we feel crowded or overwhelmed.
When space invaders get right inside our personal bubble, it can be incredibly uncomfortable. Everyone has that relative who stands too close. Who hugs too tightly. The coworker who hangs around your cubicle and won’t stop talking.
When you don’t shut the doors, literally or figuratively, it can feel like you’re being invaded or run over.
What does a closed off boundary look like? Imagine living in a medieval castle surrounded by a moat. A fortified stone building with no doors and windows, unwelcoming and foreboding. If you don’t let people into your life, or you don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable, you’re missing out on the richness of beautiful relationships.
When walls are too high, emotional connection and closeness is cut off. It’s a relationship killer.
Lastly, what does it look like to have no boundaries? Imagine living in a drafty camp cabin during a snowstorm. It’s loud and cold, with wind whipping through and maybe there’s a leak in the roof. There’s no keeping out the elements.
People with boundaries overreact when they meet someone else’s boundaries. They don’t know how to step back. It’s not unusual for a person without boundaries to call another person cold-hearted when faced with limits. Being in a relationship with this person can be very draining or suffocating.
When relationship boundaries are too loose, it feels like someone’s invading your space. Feeling powerless, resentful or feeling pressured are common symptoms.
When you don’t shut the doors, literally or figuratively, it can feel like you’re being invaded or taken advantage of. Like when they just walk right into your house without being invited, and ask what’s for dinner.
Actually, that happened to us when I was a kid.
We had a relative who regularly showed up unannounced for Sunday dinner, sometimes with friends. The first couple of times, he was welcomed and my mom scrambled to add a few more places for him and hismotley crew.
My parents began arguing because they had different ideas about how to deal with it. Dad asked the unnanounced guest to call first. He kept showing up anyway, ignoring boundaries. Mom felt awkward about sending him away at dinnertime. Sundays got stressful at our house, never knowing if we’d have party crashers.
My parents came up with a solution that put an end to the uninvited guest cycle: we went out for dinner on Sundays, and weren’t home when the doorbell rang.
Healthy boundaries are a hot topic. People want them, but aren’t sure how to strike the balance between having too many or not enough boundaries. There’s no reason to feel guilty about respecting ourselves.
Healthy boundaries have windows or a door. They aren’t impassable walls. Understand and accept your own personal boundaries without feeling the need to explain or justify yourself.
Picture creating that safe haven of a home, with doors and windows that you can open to allow safe and healthy interactions with people wherever you go.
Healthy boundaries are a hot topic. People want them, but don’t always know how to strike the balance between having too many or not enough boundaries.
When you have healthy relationship boundaries, you’ll have more self-respect and self-esteem because you’re taking responsibility for your own life. Your relationships will be richer and more rewarding. The level of trust and connection with others will improve, as your awareness of how you interact with others in the world improves. It’s a win/win situation!
If you’re struggling with setting healthy boundaries at work or at home, I can help. Schedule a "Get Acquainted" call today and get started on the road to a more fulfilling life!
Denise Fountain is a Life Transitions Specialist and Certified Professional Coach. She works with women going through transitions to rediscover themselves and create lives that are happy, healthy and whole again. Together with her clients, she explores the connection between stress, health and happiness, and guides her clients to move forward to make lasting and sustainable changes.
Denise is passionate about helping women live their best lives. Denise provides coaching for clients living anywhere by phone or Skype, and is available for speaking engagements and workshops. Sign up for updates. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how Denise can partner with you to create the life you dream of.