“Do Not Cross” is a boundary marker. The purpose is to clearly communicate what is expected and that there is a limitation to be respected. We have to create our own “do not cross” markers in relationships.
The Boundaries book identifies three types of people who have boundary problems: Compliants, Avoidants and Controllers.
1. “My boundary problem is that I don’t have any.” People who are identified as “compliant” take on too many responsibilities of others. They don’t have boundaries because they are afraid. The disease-to-please is a fear-based infection. They dis-empower themselves by giving up their freedom of choice and say things like, “I have to, there is nobody else.” This can show up as a need to be needed. Becoming a dumping ground for other people’s tasks becomes the norm. Overwhelm can lead to literally making yourself sick. Giving out of perpetual obligation leads to feelings of resentment that deteriorates relationships. Action: Set a boundary with pleasantness. “No. I’m sorry I can’t help you.” Or try saying, “No thank you, that doesn’t work for me.”
2. “I don’t need help, I can do it all myself.” People who are identified as “avoidants” have a hard time ever asking for help. They don’t recognize the limits of their capacity. There is no space to let anyone else in. Maybe you have seen a hostess at a dinner party try to do everything herself. This can come from a desire to have everything perfect or a fear of relying on other people who will eventually disappoint you by doing it “wrong.” The end result could mean that dinner is served at 10pm and everyone standing around starving because assistance is refused. Action: Control the parts you care most about. Delegate the things that just need to get done.
3. “When I need something, you better have it.” People who are identified as “controllers” don’t respect others’ limits. They are over-takers who usually pair up with over-givers. They resist taking control of own lives and need to control others. The “aggressive controller” will have an attitude of “you better answer the phone when I call you.” There is complete disregard for inconveniencing the other person. They don’t listen or acknowledge that other people have boundaries. Action: Ask instead of demand. Apologize for the inconvenience. Give space for someone to say “no.”
Red Flag! People who are dysfunctional will not respect “no.” They may react in revenge (“I’ll get you back”) when you refuse to give them what they want. If someone tries to punish because they don’t get their way, then you need to move away from their dysfunctional behavior immediately.
“Do Not Cross” is a boundary marker that we all can practice. There are places in our lives where we are Compliant by taking on too much of other people’s work because we want to be liked. There are other times when we take ourselves over the edge of what we can handle because we are Avoidant in knowing when to stop and ask for help. We can also be Controllers who demand our needs be met immediately.
We have to create our own “do not cross” markers in our relationships to help people respect our limitations.
Reflect & Share: Who do you have the hardest time saying ‘no’ to because you want to be liked? When do you need to ask for help because you over-extending yourself? Who do you place more demands on to respond immediately?
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Related Blogs & Resources
Online Quiz: “Do you have boundary issues?” (quiz)
“How thin are your boundaries” (article)
“Boundary Issues” (blog)
“Personal Boundaries in Relationships” (article)
“Needy friends: A friend indeed?” (blog)
“Relationships: Unresolved Dependency Issues and Boundaries” (blog)
“Manipulative People Do Not Understand The Concept of Boundaries” (article)