Why boundaries matter... and how to create them!
What would the world look like if there were no boundaries? What if there were no separation between land and sea? Skin and bones? Heck, even lawn and street?
Boundaries are necessary. They are essential to maintaining a sense of balance within oneself and society. Boundaries preserve personal limits and create a sense of protection for things that frequently come to rob us of peace, joy, and happiness. In a world where limits are presumed to be a bad thing, we are discouraged in creating personal boundaries for our well-being. It’s like saying “No”, is off limits because we don’t want to be perceived as “rude” or “disrespectful”, but in turn, we hurt ourselves by allowing everything within our lives. Our world is built on the premise of boundaries. Cars have doors to create a boundary between the open road and our bodies. Homes have doors, alarm systems and fences to create a boundary between owners and strangers. Oh my gosh, even our phones have covers to act as a boundary between the data we love and the elements. I don’t know about each of you, but if something happened to my beloved iPhone…I would absolutely be heartbroken.
So…what about relationships? Why have boundaries? Well…
1) Boundaries reveal intentions/motives.
2) Boundaries solidify expectations.
3) Boundaries protect hearts.
Imagine if I met a total stranger, went to dinner and allowed him to move into my apartment that evening. My mom, peers and some of you would be like “OMG!!! Why in the world did you do that? “but that is what a life without boundaries look like- chaotic, weird, rushed and dangerous. When we lack boundaries, we send the message that we hold nothing within us that is worth protecting. People cannot just roll up on the world’s most precious diamond, and that rule should apply to you. I lived absent of boundaries and it left me heartbroken. I had guys calling me at all kind of hours of the night, but they did not commit to entering a relationship with me. They entertained the thought of me, but sensed my lack of boundaries to equate a lack of worth. I was the girl who adapted her schedule to the guy she was talking to, was open to their excuses and thought if I kept myself available- being with me would appear to be advantageous but the opposite proved true. Like many women today, I did not require any standard to work towards and that allowed these “awful” (insert your own word here) young men to use and abuse me emotionally. The same way we would not allow a stranger to move into our home, emotionally we shouldn’t allow everyone to move into the intimate places of our hearts.
So… how do we create boundaries?
Here are a few of my go-to steps to create and maintain boundaries!
Say No. Saying no creates a boundary within itself. We are not robots and we do not have to agree to everything. Say it with me- “N-O, spells NO.” For example, say someone interested in you wants to talk to you at 3 am. He/she is not traveling internationally and therefore are not undergoing some type of time change. They are not in an emergency room, dead and or close to it. They are in perfect health, sitting in their bed. You get a text saying, “R u up?”. This text, of course, wakes you up, you reply with “Yeah.” And they ask to call. You have work or class in the morning and you know that you need to be well rested to do well. You have two choices: sacrifice sleep and say “Of, course! “and hope you don’t have to present a project the next day OR you can say “Is it okay if we talk later in the day?” go back to sleep and be a happier person later. If you create that type of boundary early, he or she learns that 3am is not the best time to call. People will do as much as you allow! Say no, it’s ok- I promise.
Have an accountability partner. Having someone that you are accountable to allows the extra support in maintaining the boundaries you create. For example, best friends are great accountability partners since the element of trust and honesty is already present. I have so many accountability partners because once upon a time, I had no boundaries. I’m a law student and I need to get a huge workload done in a short amount of time. Once upon a time, during one of those heavy study nights, a guy I’ve been interested in called to ask me to a party. Naturally, I called my bestie and she reminded me of my responsibilities as a student and reassured me that there will be another opportunity. Of course, she was right! Having her as an accountability partner kept me grounded in my decisions and protected my dreams of being a great student and future attorney. At the end of the day, the only person that is going to fight hard for your dream is you. This makes having people in your life that love you enough to say no, VERY important! Have an accountability partner, it’s worth it.
Create a Standard. How do we want to live our lives? This question is answered through our standards. What we settle for reveal where we want to go and what we want to achieve during our short time here on earth. If you value certain attributes, do not settle for the opposite. For example, I value honesty. As soon as I see that the person in a relationship has a propensity to lie – that’s a red flag. My boundary of honesty protects me from dishonesty. Standards are good!