Lillian Strom, AMFT
Boundaries are an important communication of our personal rules, what we feel comfortable with and what we don’t. When we allow people to violate our boundaries we can be exploited, taken advantage of and end up being in situations that we don’t want. This can not only cause different kinds of harm for us, emotional, psychological, financial, physical, etc., it can and most likely will develop into resentment towards the individual that is violating our boundaries.
What can seem like a small thing to do or allow with one person can be a significant issue for another. This can be on any level with a person, for example, going to church. Say a partner wants to stop going to church or skip a day of church, not really seeing any issue with it. However, the partner finds church to be very therapeutic and highly important; only missing church if there is a dire emergency or illness. The one partner continues to push the other to miss church to go on an excursion of some kind or just sleep in. Whatever the reason, the boundary is pushed. The partner gives in and misses church. Doing this is causing a ton of emotional turmoil and anguish. It is going against personal beliefs and is demonstrating the partner does not respect the boundary that is being set. Overtime and with continued boundary violations of any kind resentment starts to brew and interfere with their relationship. Even though one partner didn’t find missing church to be a big deal, it was incredibly important to the other and that boundary and importance wasn’t respected. Likely when one boundary is violated and in turn allowed to be violated, there are more boundaries that are not respected.
Boundary setting can be very difficult and isn’t limited to our personal rules for others to respect. We also set boundaries and can violate boundaries with ourselves. How many of us set a new budget and fail to follow it, or state we are no longer going to speak with a toxic person and go back to conversing? Those are personal boundaries, rules, we are setting with ourselves that we’re violating and not respecting. This can lead to feelings of shame, discontent, self-anger, lack of confidence and giving up in some situations.
Maintaining our boundaries can be so difficult for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s pressure and continued violation from someone. Perhaps it’s related to an existing self-doubt and trauma that holds up back. Our core belief system plays a role into our we establish and standby the boundaries we set. Maybe growing up you weren’t allowed to have boundaries and were constantly violated emotionally. You literally wouldn’t know how to set them and maybe feel you don’t hold enough value to have them. Another common reason is a pushy person who wants what they want without any consideration for another person. They manipulate, they push they do things anyway and you don’t know how to stop it or you are just so beaten down you give in to stop the torment of this person. All of these scenarios are a viscous cycle that can wreak havoc on our thoughts, mind, emotions and existence.
Closing thoughts: If you are establishing new boundaries expect those boundaries to be pushed back on. They aren’t generally accepted at first. It’s important for you not to budge on them and let the person know your boundary is not comprisable. Also, remind yourself that you are worthy of your boundaries being respected. If someone in particular is refusing to respect your boundaries, maybe look at that individual and add some introspection. They may not really be someone you want in your life or someone who is good for you. Keep in mind we all have human moments and do things we shouldn’t on some level. Understand that people do make mistakes and that sometimes involves overstepping boundaries. You know the difference of mistakes versus lack of respect in the reaction when you say something about it and stand your ground. That statement does not include people who manipulate and emulate remorse.
Is there an area in your life you need to set boundaries or is there a person who is constantly violating them?