As this year comes to a close, it is wise to pause to assess growth. Building boundaries in our life takes effort. Boundaries need continuous reinforcement as individuals push up against them to test the firmness. In the process of trying to create a protective space of our limits, it is important to measure success with boundaries. This is the 12th blog in a series based on the book, Boundaries.
Four ways to tell if you know how to “Draw the Line” when implementing boundaries.
1. You feel resentment. The early warning sign that there has been a boundary-violation is the feeling of resentment. There is a desire to stand firm on the line that has been drawn. When we start to feel frustration and anger, we need to pay attention to where our line is and if someone crossed it.
2. You feel an attraction to boundary-lovers. Being around people who have strong boundaries will help reinforce your own. When you say “sorry, that doesn’t work for me,” you may get a response of “oh, okay, what works for you?” This question can invite a counter-offer that respects your limits. When someone respects our “no” we feel free to say “yes” to a good deal. For example, when going to parties my husband or I may not want to stay long. We both have the freedom to give “the signal” that we are ready to go in the next 15 minutes. This gives the other spouse some space to wrap up a conversation and to prepare for departure. Another possible option is that we take separate cars so we have the freedom to head home early when we’ve reached our socializing limit. “We become attracted to boundary lovers because in them, we find permission to be honest, authentic, loving individuals.”
3. You feel responsible only for what is yours. When we take responsibility for only the parts that we are responsible for, we are practicing healthy boundaries. We are not interfering in someone else’s responsibilities without being invited. Taking responsibility for other adults’ lives is destructive behavior. By focusing on our own boundaries we can love ourselves first and lead by example.
4. You feel confident in saying “no” to the little things. We can practice boundaries by testing our resolve with small decisions. Telling your dinner date, “6:00pm puts me right in the middle of traffic, can we push the time to 7:00pm?” We can ask for our ideal choice first. From there, we can negotiate options until the “acceptable” limit stops. If we agree when someone makes requests (or demands) that surpasses our boundaries, we say “yes” out of compliance or guilt. The person who suffers most is us. “The goal is to have a character structure of boundaries which will set limits of self and others at appropriate times.”
The closing down of the year can lead to reflection of how much we’ve grown. Measuring success with boundaries helps us see how far we’ve come in “Drawing the Line.”
Reflect & Share: What are the first signs that tell you that building boundaries is starting to work?
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“Healthy Limits and Boundaries in 2013” (blog)
“Work/Life Balance: How to Set Healthy Boundaries You Can Actually Keep” (audio)
“Healthy Boundaries, Healthy Relationships” (blog)
“Personal Boundaries in the Oneness” (blog)
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