& Self Boundaries
& Self Boundaries
Setting boundaries, if done with loving-kindness and understanding, can actually bring people together and build stronger, thriving relationships.
However, sometimes you have all the best intentions, but things don't go as planned, and the other person continues to disregard your boundary. Or even if a boundary agreement was made, the person repeatedly violates the agreement. So, how do you make your boundary stick?
We will now discuss consequences, and why they are so important in your boundary work.
Maybe you need to set a boundary with a sibling who has a tendency to boss you around and tell you how you should live your life. You decide to have a face-to-face meeting with her. In your conversation, you let her know that you love and respect her and her life choices, and you would like to have that same respect reciprocated back. You might say to her, "I appreciate that you care about me, but I don't appreciate you telling me how to live my life when I haven't asked for your advice. Please stop, and if you continue to boss me around, I will call you on your behaviour and let you know how I feel." That's one kind of consequence. Another might be: "I will leave the room or end the phone call." The point is, a consequence lets the person know in clear terms what you will do if they violate your boundary.
Holding the other person accountable is just as important as your own responsibility to protect your boundary. Without a consequence, or if the one you have is too lenient, your boundary becomes soft and easily violated. At the same time, if your consequence is too strict, creating a rigid boundary, this too can backfire, causing alienation, anger, or hostility. Consequences need to be based on a reprimand that is realistic, and something that you can fulfil. They also need to be based on something that matters to the other person, so there's an emotional investment. She needs to want and desire what she is losing. So, if your sister does not want to lose her relationship with you, she will take your boundary seriously and uphold it; she will learn to control her urge to boss you around.
Keep in mind that boundary work, including consequences, is an evolving process. You may choose to start with a milder consequence and see how that goes. If it is violated repeatedly, then you can increase the level of consequence over time until you see the change you want. Boundary work is a combination of providing the right amounts of truth, compassion, and action for each situation. The best kinds of consequences need to matter, while preserving the good things that are treasured in your relationship.
How do you feel about consequences?
Does it bring up any fears or doubts?
If you have fears about enforcing consequences, take time to reflect and journal about what might be causing your feelings. Accept your feelings, and understand that with practice you will build the courage to stand up for yourself.
Now you can add a consequence for each of the boundaries you want to set and write them down below?
Now we will turn our attention inward. Instead of examining outer boundary conflicts with other people, we will be looking at our own internal relationship and explore what kinds of self-boundaries we need to set, for example, to curb self-sabotaging patterns like co-dependency in toxic relationships, addictions, unhealthy diet, negative thoughts, or technology/media habits that control our lives.
Learning to set self-boundaries is not an easy process, but the benefits are profoundly transformative. Being able to honour our self-boundaries leads to growth, more self-control, and freedom from self-sabotaging behaviours that hurt and victimise us.
For example, let's say you need to set a self-boundary to curb your reliance on sugar and caffeine to get you going every morning. You realise that it makes you edgy and anxious. It also causes you to crash in the afternoon, which in turn makes you tired and grumpy. You've made the decision to change your habit and start eating a healthier diet each morning. To support this change, you set a self-boundary that instead of coffee and a donut, you will have fruits and tea. You make an agreement with yourself. To imprint the boundary, write it down; post it on your fridge as a reminder; meditate on it. To enhance the boundary, make it intentional by visualising how you want to feel and be energised and feeling good about yourself. If you want to add a consequence, don't think of it as punishment, but rather how you can hold yourself accountable. Maybe when you slip up and eat that donut, you call yourself on it and journal about what triggered the need. Just as you lead with compassion when setting a boundary with another person, practice self-compassion too!
How do you feel about self- boundaries?
Describe in detail a recent experience where you needed to set a self-boundary.
What was the situation?
What were you doing/thinking?
How was it harming you?
Reflecting on that experience, how do you feel a self-boundary would help you change that pattern of behaviour?
Setting self-boundaries takes self-awareness. This means being authentic and mindful of your actions and words, making it a priority to self-examine and retrain old habits that don't serve you anymore. It also means living from compassion and empathy, accepting who you are, and forgiving yourself for past mistakes. Creating healthy self-boundaries is an act of self-love, because the aspiration to love and be honest to yourself will strengthen your resolve to set healthy boundaries with others.
Take time to reflect on where you might need self-boundaries. Take a few deep breaths and begin to mindfully visualise current aspects of your life, relationships, home life, and work life.
Write down your reflection experience and start a list of the areas in your life that need self-boundaries.
Take one of the areas that needs a self-boundary and write a note of forgiveness to yourself.
This exercise is an invitation for you to compassionately accept and release yourself from the past.
Now go through the process of setting a self-boundary by writing out the specific boundary you wish to create. Also, make the self-boundary intentional by clearly visualising and stating the benefits you will gain from honouring your self-boundary.
Decide upon a consequence for crossing your self-boundary and write it down. Remember, it's not necessarily about punishing yourself, but holding yourself accountable.