It’s time to get real on the topic of personal boundaries.
It’s time that we stop buying into the notion that in order to be spiritual or compassionate, we must allow others to walk all over us. Sometimes the benefit of the doubt should be given and sometimes it’s important to realize we may be setting the wrong example of how to treat us.
For many of us, establishing boundaries can be a difficult task. This is especially true for those of us in helping professions or who simply consider ourselves to be compassionate, helpful individuals.
There are many articles out there on how to be spiritual, evolved beings and sometimes we forget that establishing and maintaining personal boundaries can be the most spiritual, sacred act we commit.
Here are four important reasons to establish firm boundaries in your life as an act of sacred self-care.
Set the bar
We teach others how to treat us by how we treat us. If we allow people to walk all over us, take without giving and push us into situations that feel uncomfortable or even invite drama into our lives, we teach them and others that it is acceptable to do so. Thus, they will continue to do it.
When we have clearly defined what is acceptable and then further affirm that boundary, we set the bar on what it takes to stay in our lives. Be a reflection of what you deserve by first lavishing yourself with the qualities you expect others to bring forth. Respect your own personal boundaries by not allowing others to cross them continuously.
Receive as much as you give
I recently said goodbye to a 10-plus year friendship, and it came after I had affirmed a boundary and said no to something. I had realized in the months prior as I did my own work with boundaries that this was someone who habitually lied to me and those around her.
They stole my ideas, sailed on the winds of mine and others’ accomplishments and creations and were unapologetic for it. They would make no bones about asking for outlandish sums of money—but the moment that I said no to something, suddenly I went from sister to outcast. Why? Because I made it clear that I was no longer keeping open the door of my generosity.
Chances are this rings true for many of you. You may be the person doing the majority of the work in the relationship. They may float on your efforts. You might notice some people who tend to cut others out the moment that they are challenged or told no.
It’s important that we ask ourselves just how disproportionate our relationships with others are and whether we are setting the precedent that it’s acceptable for people to take without giving in return. It’s scary business, affirming boundaries and dealing with the aftermath—it will ultimately send some people running from our lives.
Taking out the garbage (or letting it take itself out)
Many of us don’t have or don’t enforce our boundaries because of fear. Fear that people we care about will leave our lives. Fear that we will no longer be of value and as such be cast out.
I had no choice but to face that fear directly. I had to become my own advocate. Was watching someone just delete me from their life difficult? Sure. It will be difficult for all of us to see that happen. I take solace, however, in understanding that the only people who leave our lives when we affirm our boundaries are those who are in our lives for self-serving reasons. This is an important thing for us all to absorb. We may care greatly for these individuals but these individuals ultimately only care for and about themselves. They are in our lives because of what they can receive, not what they can add. So though it can be a painful realization, it’s important that we take the garbage out, or at the very least, not stop it when it’s taking itself out.
The best thing about allowing those who don’t respect our boundaries to leave is it creates room for those who are genuine in their intentions with us, who will respect us and not cross our boundaries because they would never want to hurt us. They see value in what we provide and wish to mirror that value. They bring richness and positive energy to our experience and we can do the same for them.
It is important to take stock of our life and honestly assess what needs to go. If our closet is overflowing, there is no use buying a new pair of jeans that will just end up sitting on the floor, collecting dust. We have to periodically clean out our emotional closets in much the same way—to make room for those who will be a positive and healthy addition to our journey.
Creating, setting and affirming boundaries can be demanding work for many of us and can often times be an emotional trigger.
No one likes to feel unwanted or rejected, but at the same time we are our own advocates and we cannot expect others to respect us and treat us with loving compassion if we do not first treat ourselves in this way. Having firm boundaries is one of the most sacred, spiritual gifts that we can provide ourselves and others. When we bravely take care of our personal boundaries, we encourage others to show up for themselves with the same courage.
Author: Laura Brown
Image: Andrew Huff/Flickr
Editors: Catherine Monkman; Lindsey Block