Creating Healthy Boundaries
I used to blame my boundary issues on my early life environment and those I shared it with. It was convenient to do this as it meant I could avoid responsibility. Looking back into my childhood, there were many obvious links between a lack of clear boundaries then, and my struggles in this area of my adult life.
Like most people with boundary issues, I struggled with both personal and relational boundaries. With personal boundaries I struggled with commitments to myself. I found it hard to keep my actions and values aligned in a way that helped me create good stable sense of self. With relational boundaries, I would easily get caught up in the emotions and projections of others. It was very difficult to know where they began and I ended. My life seemed like one big drama and intimate relationships were an absolute nightmare!
Over the years I came to see a lot of my personal boundary issues as self-inflicted in the ways I went against myself. All the times I crossed my own boundaries, ignoring that soft voice of inner wisdom. Going against myself, again and again, meant that my ideas of what did and didn’t work for me, remained a blurred line at best. And I wondered why I felt so anxious all the time.
In my lack of self worth, my relational boundaries were way too flimsy. I trusted other people’s opinions of me more than I trusted my own. Even if those opinions came in the form of uninvited negative judgments and unkind criticism, I somehow held to them as being true, whilst doubting myself.
Creating Healthy Boundaries
Recovery changed all of this. I began learning about my boundaries. I began growing up and becoming an adult. It took time but, step-by-step, I pulled myself up.
One lesson I have learned in life is that I cannot violate, or allow violations of, my own boundaries and then expect them to be there for me when I need them. If I choose addictive behaviours that over-stimulate my nervous system, or, in search of validation, allow others to take advantage of me, how can I expect to be grounded and present in myself when life demands it? The simple answer is that I can’! It’s has been a hard lesson to learn, but, when it comes to boundaries, we really do reap what we sow.
If we use daily life as an opportunity to create our own healthy boundaries, we build a supportive container for ourselves. Within this container we can tend to what is most important and keep our precious energy for purpose-centered use. When we have healthy boundaries, we are less affected by the expectations and opinions of others, and our sense of who we are becomes clearer and more stable. This is because healthy boundaries make it possible for self-esteem to be internally generated.
If we are not clear regarding our boundaries, we won’t have the presence to get clear about what we’re committed to in life. Because of this we drift through life bending ourselves to the expectations of others, and wondering why we feel tired, anxious, and depressed. Because our sense of self is not strong we constantly tilt into other-esteem, and place our already fragile self-image in the hands of others to mold through the lens of their own limited perceptions.
Healthy Boundaries Are Not Obligations
The problem I see in some of my clients is as much a thinking problem, as a boundary problem. They think boundaries are burdensome obligations that tie us down and limit our choices. They think of boundaries as being a form of self-limitation, rather than an empowered choice.
Healthy boundaries are not obligations. They are commitments that we make within ourselves, that support us in creating the life that we really want to live. Healthy boundaries are neither solid or porous. Healthy boundaries are those that allow us to trust our innate discernment as to what we allow in, and keep out.
When we over boundary ourselves our creative energy stagnates as we become set and rigid in the way we live life. When we under boundary ourselves, our creative energy leaks into inconsequential distractions. Healthy boundaries are neither of these extremes. Healthy Boundaries are those that are alive as a living inquiry within, that is guided by inner knowing. Healthy boundaries expand to allow what serves us in, and contract to keep out what doesn’t.
Are Boundaries An Issue For You?
Let me be clear and say right now that, in no way do I have this down! I am still learning the art of maintaining healthy boundaries in my own life. I have also come a long way on my path over the last 20 years and have learnt enough to be able to coach my clients in creating their own healthy boundaries.
Are boundaries an issue for you? You may not know the answer to that question. If you suffer from anxiety, lack confidence, and are not sure what you are committed too in life, then there’s a good chance that your boundaries may be in need of attention.
If this is the case then contact me. I can probably help.