Why we need more than just affirmations to set a boundary

We all know that boundaries is something we all need in life. I often read articles about setting boundaries, where they give tips and advice on what to do. It’s actually quite a complicated process, if it wasn’t then we wouldn’t struggle with it. There is no point just deciding on a boundary we need to set, then trying to do it only to find the minute someone pushes against it, it crumbles and we beat ourselves up or feel defeated.

Like everything else in life, it’s a process. If we have very low self-esteem or a lack of self-worth, then it can feel inconceivable that we even deserve to have a boundary, or have any idea what it would look like. If we have had our boundaries walked all over, or we grew up in a household where there were very few boundaries in place, instead there was chaos and unpredictability, then it’s hard to even have a concept of a boundary. If we grew up with super rigid and inflexible boundaries, we may have an aversion to them as we perceive them as suffocating. Therefore, the first part of the process is identifying what our response to a boundary is, what happens if we start exploring what one would look like and when we would need to use it. Once we can do this, then we can look at how we would build and use our boundary.

We also have to be aware of how we react both emotionally and physically when someone challenges our boundary, because they will, especially if it’s something new or we are doing this to stop or change unhealthy behaviours. We all have an achilles heel, some of us cave in when we are made to feel guilty, some of us fear a negative or angry response, some of us fear rejection, or we dread being accused of being selfish. If someone is determined to get us to do what they want, they will likely use all of these to get us to dismantle our boundary and not try it again. This is why we need to know how we respond and what we need, both as thoughts and answers but also physically, so we can stand solid and not feel wrong for putting this in place.

In order for us to do this effectively we have to know for certain that this boundary is necessary for us and we are not doing it to cause anyone any harm or upset. If we can be really sure of this, it makes it much easier to keep it intact. What we don’t want to have to do is apologise for having a boundary. This erodes our acceptance of it and instead of coming at it with positive energy, it comes with less-solid energy and will not be respected in the same way by others.

The really good thing about having firm boundaries is that when we can own them, others sense them before we even have to actively do something. If you say no to something with total conviction, people are much less likely to try to get you to change your mind as they hear and feel the solidity of the ‘no’. Children usually only have tantrums if they know they work. They scream loud enough, for long enough and the parent will change their mind. If the ‘no’ stays a no regardless, then children learn quickly that a tantrum won’t work. Adults, in a less dramatic way, (hopefully) are the same. If we can be fully confident of our boundary, then instead of others taking offence, the opposite happens, it just gets accepted.

People who have good, solid boundaries actually feel safe to be around. We like to know where we stand with people and we like to know what the rules are, whether these are spoken or unspoken. We actually feel more unsafe on a subconscious level with people who don’t have boundaries, as we feel unsure or can perceive these people as unpredictable and difficult to navigate or be around.

We’re all very different and we’ll all have different boundaries. This is fine, so long as the ones we have are right for us and enough to keep us safe or in control, but not so much that we use them to keep everyone out. We can all respect each others boundaries and live very harmoniously together. We all have different measures of personal space, for example, some people are happy in close proximity, while others need more space. We usually sense this in a somatic way through our body, by either picking up signals or energy, we rarely have to ask someone to move back, we navigate this unconsciously.

The clearer our boundaries are, the easier it can be to navigate all sorts of situations, it’s really worth starting to be curious about it, as the benefits are huge, but we have to start at the beginning of the process. We can’t jump to the end and hope for the best. Like most things, we have to work at it, but it’s worth it in the end.

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