If you’re anything like me, you may have a love-hate relationship with boundaries. I had heard the word boundaries often growing up with parents who both studied psychology, but I misunderstood what it meant to have boundaries. When combined with another common reminder in my house about not having expectations so you won't be disappointed, I misinterpreted boundaries to mean just not having expectations for people.
I remember having a conversation with a friend about expectations and mentioning that I couldn't expect my partner at the time to act a certain way because that meant that I was going to be disappointed. My friend gave me advice that changed how I understood boundaries and expectations:
You can’t expect people to act a certain way or do what you want them to do, but that doesn’t mean you let people walk all over you. Boundaries help you decide which people you let in.
Now when I teach about boundaries, I always say: Boundaries are for you, not to control other people.
Setting boundaries is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships and protecting your well-being. Boundaries are limits that we set for ourselves to define what is acceptable and what is not in our interactions with others. They help us to communicate our needs and expectations clearly and to differentiate between our responsibilities and those of others.
Before setting boundaries with others, it's important to talk to yourself and identify your own needs and limits. This process involves reflecting on your values, desires, and goals, and assessing how others' behavior affects them. By doing so, you can gain clarity and confidence in your boundaries, and communicate them more effectively to others.
Talking to yourself before talking to others about your boundaries also helps you to avoid being reactive or defensive in your communication. It allows you to approach the conversation with a clear mind and a positive attitude, and to express your boundaries in a constructive and respectful way.
Remember that setting boundaries is not selfish or rude, but rather a necessary step towards taking care of yourself and fostering healthy relationships. By communicating your boundaries effectively, you can build trust, respect, and understanding with those around you, and create a more fulfilling and balanced life.