It’s hard developing boundaries when it’s never been taught in the first place. Especially when coming from a family that never practiced it to begin with. I’ll be honest, when I started implementing them, I experienced a lot of resistance. There were many times I thought “Maybe I’m wrong after all and I’m just making a big fuss.” Which would then be followed by “But why do I still feel like this?” I was always so conflicted and confused. I would get frustrated when I did not feel strong enough to stand up for myself. This results in allowing others to walk all over me and to take advantage of me. I didn’t understand my own boundaries. I found myself wondering if I could ever be confident and always admired people who knew their own limits and understood where to draw the line.
Since I was not taught how to respect other’s boundaries, I used to quietly scoff at people who did have them implemented. I just didn’t understand. “How could they be so harsh?” I would ask myself in these moments. But honestly, it was just me feeling offended and also envious at the same time that they know their limits and are free to express that. I wished that I could have the same freedom as they. After much thought, I’d realize that they were only protecting their own boundaries and my reaction was immature.
I wanted to change and I wanted to learn how to be strong. I started seeking out advice from someone I admired in my church. Over time she and I became close. She was a great listener and gave a lot of good advice. One thing that stuck with me to this day is “Only worry about your side of the street.” If their side of the street is a mess, don’t worry about it, all I need to be concerned about is if my side is clean. She also taught me to respond and not react. That one is easier said than done, but I’m getting there.
My sweet husband is also great at practicing healthy boundaries. It’s something that just comes natural for him. He has been my strong support and encouragement and he bought me the book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. I learned a lot about speaking up even if the other person may get mad. I learned about understanding my own limits. I learned that it’s ok to say no. Developing those boundaries was not easy and I definitely could not have done it without my husbands encouragement. I am going to share with you three things that I have learned so far that has made a huge difference in my life.
- Trust Your Instincts
If you find yourself visiting a friend or family member and it’s been a draining experience, ask yourself why. I’ve learnedto do this because there is always a reason for it. It’s taken me a long time to come to that point. It can sometimes take a while before I finally reach that point when I understand and I take note for next time.
2. Do Not Triangulate
What does this mean? It’s when one person will not communicate with the person they need to but will instead talk to a third person in hopes that the third person will relay the information to the second, creating a triangle. I’ve experienced this so many times and I always say “This is between you and so and so and you need to resolve it with them.” It shuts them up every time! I don’t want to get in the middle of someone else’s dispute.
3. Find a Strong Support
It’ll take time, but find a few people who can be a strong support. You will need that constant encouragement. Little steps are big victories and you need people around you who understand the meaning of developing healthy boundaries to support you in your journey.
I have come a long way since my early years but I still have a long way to go. I am still learning now but the thing I remind myself is to take note of what I did wrong and not do it again. I hope this was encouraging for you to read. What is it you have done to start developing your boundaries?