Boundaries

1525366_472359292869156_1875736495_nSo, let’s talk about boundaries. I have a feeling that women seem to have more of a problem with asserting and maintaining boundaries in our culture, although I know plenty of men who struggle with this issue as well. Boundary issues have a lot to do with our upbringing – how boundaries were modelled to us, and if our boundaries were respected by the adults around us. Empathic people, who are naturally aware and sensitive to the feelings of other people can also have difficulty maintaining the integrity of their own boundaries. I realise I sound a bit like the Minister for Defence when they talk about maintaining the integrity of your country’s borders, and you know, it is kind of like that.

Boundaries are about respect. A boundary is a line that should not be crossed without permission. You are the Guardian of that line, because behind that line, is something inexpressibly sacred: your self. You and only you know where your line is, and you and only you are responsible for making sure it is not transgressed.

The first place respect starts is yourself. You must respect yourself, because everyone around you follows your lead -intuitively, people sense how much respect you believe you require and give you just that amount. So, in your life, if you feel that people are always disrespecting your boundaries, you need to have a look at your own beliefs and attitudes about respect.

Let me give you an example: I have pretty good boundaries. People nearly always treat me with respect. They know that when I say ‘no’ I have a good reason for it, and when I say ‘yes’, it’s because I genuinely want to do something. I am respected as a person of honesty and integrity. But there is one tiny group of people who do not respect my boundaries. I let these people get away with things that I would never let anyone else in a million years get away with. Who are these people? My children. When I examined my attitudes and beliefs about motherhood, I  found that having boundaries between myself and my children was not high on the list. In fact, I believed that allowing my children access to my person, when and as they desired, 24 hours a day was part and parcel of motherhood. I am working on this :).

So, there are all sorts of boundaries, and of course, different sets of people and situations can have different rules. There are the boundaries that you have with work, with your work in your community and how you spend your time. There are the boundaries that you have with your partner, your friends, your family and your children, and they can all be different. If you feel that your boundaries are consistently crossed in one or more of these areas, dig deeper and examine your own beliefs. Remember, people follow your lead.

Firstly, though, you must learn not to cross your own lines. Do not disrespect yourself. If you have put aside a half a day a week to do your creative work, hold onto that. If you have put aside half an hour in the morning to meditate and do yoga, hold on to that. Whatever you need to do to nourish and expand your inner Being, make time for it and hold to it. Be firm and know that you deserve it, deep in your bones. Others will get used to it, they will respect you for it, and not only that, they may be inspired by your own example. Who knows?

All I know is this: respect yourself first and others will follow.

35 comments

  1. Nice one Sara, I think it’s important to talk about boundaries. I was listening to a podcast last night about boundaries, it said if you are constantly having to defend your boundaries they’ve already been crossed. I found that very interesting. It made me wonder how people visualise their boundaries. Is there a moat filled with sharks and crocodiles that fiercely protect ones boundaries? Or is there just a line that others know not to cross. I really loved that you wrote you know that others see you for your integrity and honestly. People respect your boundaries. I think this is a state to really aspire to and it doesn’t necessarily come easily. Love your work Sara, thanks yet again for getting the cogs turning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, very true! Good boundaries are hard fought for, and as you say, the battle begins when you realise that your line has already been crossed. Indeed, you must know what that feels like, in order to have good boundaries. It’s just that some people can’t stand the feel of it, and others have a higher tolerance, so come to the necessity of good boundaries later.
      I’m so glad this post resonated with you and thanks for your thoughtful comment xo

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  2. Soft morning light hellos to you Sara…

    Boundaries for me…[gentle pause whilst I felt into the indefinable, moveable, elusive aspects of what they mean, and guess what came up…]….bring up guilt for me: guilt for not being enough for others, guilt at putting myself first etc.

    Ah ha, that little guilt gremlin!

    Lucky for me, perspective, spirit-full immersion and deepening awareness means these days I greet that guilt with a gentle embrace, a knowing smile, and a ‘do it anyway, but gently’ attitude…

    And guess what- you know what – its deeply nurturing, respectful, enlivening. For me and others.

    Thanks for your sharing, the children one is prompting ponderings of my own…

    Ahh, note the new wordpress – haven’t got much to share yet, aside from a lovely new adventure in heart-business called The Natural Space to Be, which will weave in all things nature, immersion in the outdoors, spirit, yoga, meditation etc. Loving it!

    Regards, Kate, nepaligilsons Kate!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hullo Kate ❤️
      Oh boy, guilt as the first response to boundaries…there would not be many women who do not have that first response, me included. I love that you have moved into the gently, do it anyway phase. Me too 😊 for me, not having boundaries was more painful than not pleasing other people.
      Looking forward to seeing your new enterprise and following your blog xo

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      • Sara, the ‘doing it anyway, gently’ is a wonderful phase to be in. And it has been interesting as I have expanded my heart-practice (spending Tuesdays and Thursdays in nature, in meditation, in yoga or some such state) had potential to be a huge guilt laden request. But the heart of it, the core, the foundational aspect shone through so brightly it left no room for guilt. I just have to work out how to expand that light out to kids requests, school commitment requests etc etc 🙂 The new enterprise is wonderful. See http://www.categeard.com/yoga-in-nature.html for a great collaboration I am doing next week with a Yogi Friend = Blessed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, that looks amazing!
        Yes, requests for big chunks of time that benefit nobody except ourselves can be guilt laden…but oh so beneficial if we can push through…gently ❤️

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  3. All you say is so true, Sara. I’ve been working on this one for years, and it goes way back to having a father who didn’t respect my boundaries. He had many nice qualities for which I loved him, but he was a bully, and in some ways either narcissistic or egocentric or simply non-empathic, I never decided which it was. And that stemmed from his abusive father…and so it goes. I had to move half a world away to find myself, which I’m still working on but very happy with the progress! I did find, just as you say, that once I understood myself better and where my boundaries lay, I immediately had fewer problems with others crossing them. Lovely blog post, thanks for the insight and sharing. xx

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hullo Ardys, yes, so much of our self-respect or lack of it goes back to our childhood…but thankfully we have our adult life to get over it! I guess the idea is to not to replicate those wounds onto our own children. I’m glad you enjoyed this post, it’s a pleasure to read and reply to your thoughtful comments as usual ❤️

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    • I have found, Elysha, that it is all about the small acts – the promises that we make to ourselves, the acts of care taking and nourishment we give to ourselves…that contributes to our self respect and therefore our ability to keep good boundaries.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes, Sara you have touched on an important facet of our life and living. We all have our boundaries defined, some well defined and some left for interpretation. As rightly said; the interpretation depends on the people we deal with and the space we give to our near and dear ones. Once we start stating our boundary with authority and with clarity, people around us behave with us within those given space, many never breach that boundary unless given a permission. But yes at the same time when it comes to our children, they are given that freedom and they have that permission to cross it but do so with dignity and respect.

    Certain ground rules of the boundary should always be kept intact. But knowing the rules is not easy and rules change from people to people and setting a common set of rules is essential in defining the boundary. How we respect our elders and how we treat our friends reflect on our children, each of our action has a imprint on our offspring. Learning not to cross the boundary is a discipline that comes with commitment.
    Thought Provoking!!!
    😀

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    • Yes, Nihar, what you have said here is very true. I love your thoughtful comments. Boundaries are tricky, because you cannot apply a one rule fits all. Not only different people have different boundaries, but different times…sometimes I can tolerate people crossing my boundaries and other times I can’t, maybe depending upon how energetic and resilient I am feeling. Food for thought indeed ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Sara this is never an easy area to define, as rightly pointed out there are grey areas and cannot apply the same rule. Also the context and circumstances makes such a huge difference to the way we apply the rules, sensitivity of matters to principles of practice over-rides the generally accepted and followed rules. Yes there are few aspects we just don’t want other’s to mess up with us and we don’t want to tread into those zones of others…yes being resilient and restricting ourselves across time and border is what keep testing our tenacity and mindset…always a pleasure dissecting such topic for a better understanding and appreciation.
        Indeed it was thought provoking…
        😀

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  5. Excellent post Sara.. Yes Respect of one’s self comes first.. And I totally agree with this you wrote “Firstly, though, you must learn not to cross your own lines. Do not disrespect yourself. If you have put aside a half a day a week to do your creative work, hold onto that.”… A good point.. we often let slide the things we like to do as we comply with what others need to do..
    So this is a good reminder for me.. 🙂 Thank you xx ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sue, thank you and I’m glad you enjoyed my post.
      I think, as in most things, the devil is in the details. Every day we have little opportunities to keep our promises to ourselves and behave with integrity…or not. And it’s the accumulation of these kept or broken promises that result in our being able to respect ourselves or not. Or at least, that’s my experience!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Sara – and so important. I have very different boundaries with different groups in my life. Only now am I learning how to enact boundaries with family – that’s often a loaded one for women. Especially if it’s happened after many years of playing a certain role – phew! I’m noticing that my work boundaries are changing too – I see so much people pleasing around me, and I can see where and how I’ve been that way in the past. I’m really not able to do it anymore! Good thing my job is temporary – hah! Thanks ❤ Aleya

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    • Hi Aleya ❤️
      Yes, boundaries with family are especially difficult for women, especially our children I find. There seems to be this powerful inner expectation that our children own us body and soul, which is completely unsustainable. It might stem from when they were babies and we did need to be on tap 24 hours a day, but I see now that the weaning process is deeper than I first thought 🙂

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  7. Once again you put into wise words a familiar topic that I needed to hear in a different way. Your words echo a dream I had just a few days ago about allowing a family member to drive my car. As they are in real life their driving was erratic but no harm done… a few close calls though. I thought I knew about boundaries but it seems there’s a lesson anew there that I needed reminding about, to apply boundaries on a per-person basis. Not one-size-fits-all. I realize from the dream and now your words I need to let them do as they do in their own life but corral their effects out of mine. Doing so will respect both of us.
    Thank you. Have a great week 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You too Dale ❤️
      I know exactly what you mean. Almost the second after we think to ourselves, yep, got that nailed, the Universe will conspire to let us know how we still have work to do 😉

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  8. By an odd coincidence, I was reading someone else’s yesterday that dealt with boundaries too – only not in the same way. In her case, she was struggling with the effect of not perhaps defining her boundaries, to the extent that it resulted in repeated abuse by some people. It was disturbing and sad. But she’s doing better now.

    I think maybe sometimes we feel that we don’t have a right to have and define those boundaries? And if its someone who hasn’t grown up with or received respect from others for a while, then maybe they even forget how to go about setting them.

    Especially in that context and after that, loved your post. It made me feel a lot better.

    On another note – note to self – to follow the last bit and chuck procrastination or breaking promises made to self, just because I can. Thanks Sara 🙂

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  9. It never fails that when I’m finally catching up, and go seeking your blog… feel drawn to it, there is a message that I NEEDED to read. This one is spot on for me, Sara. I never learned boundaries as a child, nor as a young adult, and so it is no mystery that I still struggle with them. Your message is so clear and powerful… this is something I struggle with, but I am working on with determination. Thanks for putting it out there, so beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent share…. We are used to lack of boundaries… “If God is dead, all is permitted”, as Ivan Karamazov from Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” said (well, I am just paraphrasing, in fact I think he didn´t use those literal words)… my point is that sometimes we lose track of what it is allowed, and what should be tolerate .. I would say that boundaries are often Personal, that´s why knowing ourselves and standing out for our values is so important… best wishes & happy holidays! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi! I’ve noticed you reading some of my posts, even some really old ones that I had forgotten all about! In fact, I had to reread this post to remind myself what it was about 😊 and yes, we do sometimes lose track of what our own individual boundaries are. I think this is when we disconnect from ourselves and buy into society’s expectations of what our boundaries should be. From my experience, society expects women to have almost no boundaries!

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