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Personal Boundaries in Relationships

Stop Saying 'Yes' When You Mean 'No'
by Melanie Tonia Evans
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What are 'Personal Boundaries'?

Boundaries define who we are. They establish 'what is me' and 'what isn't me.'

Personal Boundaries help us create ownership and protection of ourselves. Boundaries are our personal security.

We know that not just anyone can open the front door of our home, walk inside, go to the fridge, grab whatever they want and plonk on our couch. We know that if someone tries to steal our car, it's illegal. We know people are not allowed to access our bank accounts and use our funds for their purposes, unless we grant consent.

Most people are very aware of boundaries for material objects, yet struggle to realise the importance of implementing emotional, physical, spiritual and mental boundaries for self.

What would happen if you came from a different society where individuals shared all of their resources and knew no different? You might get a shock! You may not know how to function in this new society. You may wander into someone else's back yard and start helping yourself to their veggie patch. Imagine if you didn't know the rules for the boundaries of your home, car, personal belongings or bank account. Maybe you would go around life allowing many people to take what was yours without batting an eyelid.

How many of us have never known the 'rules' of our personal well-being, and how not to allow life and others to intrude, steal or damage our personal power? How many of us have never known how to respect other people's boundaries and simply thought we were 'doing the right thing'? How many of us have been damaging ourselves and others simply because we haven't understood the ownership and stewardship that every individual has over the possession of their own life?

Owning Ourselves

Let's look at the term - 'Ownership'...

Our spiritual and self-mastery journey requires 'owning' ourselves. This includes owning the responsibility of creating and enforcing our own boundaries. Because (as always) it's no one else's job!

If we're confused about our ownership and perimeters of self, it's logical to realise others are going to be very confused about where our boundaries do or don't lie. How can we expect them to honour us? This confusion can create great pain and even devastation, just as having poor perimeters of our homes, cars or bank accounts would.

By having a healthy, functioning boundary, we know when to open the door to good, and when to close the door to bad.

Activating Boundary Doors

How do we activate our door correctly? By using the words and actions that state "Yes" to open the door, and the words and actions that state "No" to close it.

Our door is suffering enormous security breaches if we say "Yes" when we really feel "No", and is jammed when we say "No" to the love and support that we really desire.

How do we know when our boundary door is malfunctioning?

It's simple. We feel broken, lonely, angry, distressed, victimized, anxious, unsupported, exhausted and empty.

There are many reasons why it's important to have a mature boundary function; such as:

  • By saying "No" to more things you have the time, energy and resources to get really good at the things you want to say "Yes" to.
  • If you struggle to say "No", you'll procrastinate over many areas of your life.
  • We have been conditioned to believe that "Yes" is what moves projects and life forward. Sometimes a "Yes" doesn't, because it's counterproductive - whereas a well-placed "No" will.
  • People who complain about life, don't create an empowered life, or feel like victims are often those who find it very difficult to say "No" and define boundaries.
  • If you are unable to say "No", the price you pay is low self-esteem, depression, feeling overwhelmed, burnout, high stress levels and possible physical ailments.
  • If you find it hard to say "No" you won't allow others to step up to the plate and find their own power. These people won't then develop the resources to give back to you. If you are by definition the giver / fixer / doer - then your environment will not include individuals who are capable of granting you support.
  • If you respond before you clearly define what has been asked of you, you may create all sorts of mayhem for yourself and the other parties involved.
  • Don't be misleading to others with wishy-washy answers. This isn't fair and may give other people false hopes at the expense of you not speaking the truth.
  • If you don't learn how to say "No", others will take you for granted and lose respect for you.
  • It is much easier to change a "No" into a "Yes" later - than it is to turn a "Yes" into a "No" after the fact.

Please understand that "No's are delivered from the space of knowing yourself, rather than trying to work out and decipher the mindset of another individual. We have previously learnt that it is essential to get 'out of other people's heads' (as per our understanding of co-dependency) and understand ourselves first and foremost.

Creating boundaries is not about convincing someone else to behave in a way that YOU THINK THEY SHOULD. It is about YOU behaving the way you want your life to go.

When you know you are a person to be respected and you don't rely on other people giving you the approval for that, the irony is that people will start to grant you much more respect and approval than they would have done otherwise.

Defunct Boundaries are Learned in Childhood

Our childhood conditioning, and the inherent lack of society's boundary awareness, were very responsible for our defunct boundaries.

As babies and young children we had no awareness of boundaries. This is why little babies love to be wrapped up tight in blankets or be cuddled, and can get very distressed when they aren't. It helps them feel safe and secure. It provides the feeling of a boundary.

Let us explore some of the faultily learned boundary possibilities we acquired in our early years:

  • If we suffered physical, emotional, mental or spiritual abuse from one or both parents or other siblings or role models, we learnt at an early age that it's normal and familiar to say "Yes" to bad experiences.
  • If we were chastised or suffered a withdrawal of love as a result of saying "No", we learnt that to be loved and accepted we must always say "Yes".
  • If we were manipulated with guilt as a result of saying "No", we learnt it is shameful to say anything but "Yes".
  • If we were forced to give up and share our possessions against our will, we learnt to say "Yes" to allowing others too much to the detriment of ourselves.
  • If extreme behaviour such as 'acting up' was the only way to get attention, we learnt to get other people's acknowledgement by attacking their boundaries.
  • If judgment and suspicion prevailed, we learnt to distrust and close our door to good experiences.
  • If the messages "you're no good" or "you need my help" were received, we never learnt the power to create healthy boundaries by making decisions for ourself.
  • If we internalised our parent's irresponsible, immature, abusive or unloving behaviour, we learnt to say "Yes" to irresponsible, immature, abusive or unloving behaviour, and also to take responsibility for it.
  • If we rebelled against our parents' responsible and controlling behaviour, we learnt to fight authority and responsible structured individuals, and will rebel against them.

Obviously, our boundary issues usually relate to unfinished business from our childhood.

Identifying Your Limits & Setting Your Boundaries

Boundary work like all self-work, requires full embracing to heal. It can begin with an awareness of your limits.

Limits are the knowing of what you'll and won't accept in your life.

Limits come from the knowing and backing up of who you truly are.

To give an example, I am very clear about my own life in regard to the following:

I will no longer accept:

  • Interactions where my body or emotions feel violated without making a decision that honours me.
  • Individuals taking care of aspects of my life uninvited.
  • People who lie, manipulate or manoeuvre.
  • Emotionally irresponsible people who refuse to take responsibility for their own problems.
  • Men who are disrespectful / abusive to women.

My list is much longer than this, but it gives you an idea.

As a result of getting very clear on my personal truth, and doing the work on my own inner wounds, my life transformed extremely quickly from tolerating severe lies, abuse and narcissism to being filled with emotionally mature, responsible and respectful people. I am now blessed to experience consistent honesty and support. Rather than suffering the chauvinistic and irresponsible men that I was allowing into my space, only beautiful men now reside in my life. Why has this happened? Quite simply because I will tolerate no less. My old 'limits' are no longer a part of my reality.

Remember... every time you tolerate something that is 'no longer the truth of you', your boundary function is fuzzy and you are allowing this aspect into your reality.

It is very important to realise that everything exists out there in the world. There are people and situations that are inapplicable, manipulative, narcissistic, unhealthy and violating. It is truly naive to bury your head in a bucket of sand, desperately hoping that everyone is as good, kind and caring as you are!

It's time to grow up!!

You are here to defend the investment of you, to protect it and stand up for it. The more you do this, the less the Universe will deliver these 'less-than' interactions. Until you learn to honour and become a 'guardian of self', life will keep delivering 'what you need' in order to learn this vital self-respect. This is an inevitable transaction of your personal growth and evolution. And it doesn't have to be painful. You don't have to take it personally or feel dismayed about the plights and behaviour of others. That's their stuff! They are entitled to their journey and their evolution at whatever pace is right for them.

Be very clear:

The process of you setting limits and honouring your boundaries
is the most healing behaviour you can present
to self and others

and...

To allow an abuser to abuse is an act of abuse.
It is a fearful act of self. This act states:
"I am scared for me, rather than granting the other person
an opportunity to become aware and heal."

How many people sit back, don't stand up in regard to someone else's inapplicable behaviour, and grant feedback. They hope that someone else in this person's life will do the job! This is not responsible human interaction. You are not being responsible to them, and you are not being responsible to yourself. Feedback does not mean changing them or getting them to see your point of view. It may be a statement of your truth and then you leaving if the behaviour doesn't change. Feedback does mean no longer staying in the presence of the abuse and feeding it - such as arguing with it, or tolerating it.

So it truly is simple...

Detach from trying to understand others' behaviour, thoughts and issues. Live a principle centered life (see the article From Victim to Survivor to Thriver to learn how to do this), and then back it up with action.

The effect you'll have on everyone and everything offers the highest path to positive transformation.

To do anything less is Emotional Dishonesty.

Getting Clear On Who You Are

How many times do we 'suck it in' - say the words that don't match our feelings, tell an intimidating demanding immature or irresponsible person what they want to hear rather than speak the truth, or don't discuss how we feel and think about a situation because of our own fears and then attempt to control another person through procuring guilt or sympathy-projection of our uncomfortable feelings, or use other similarly passive / aggressive and indirect methods. Or maybe we internalise our pain and discomfort and whine about it to someone else, or worse still keep it trapped inside and mentally beat ourselves up. This is not being real and it doesn't create healing, realness or resolution. It throws more dysfunction into the mix.

Limits are really about having preferences. It is deciding who you are; who you aren't, what is a part of your reality and what isn't a part of your reality. It's no different from saying I don't like Chinese food therefore I won't eat it, and I like Thai food and therefore I do eat it. Preferences and limits establish a strong sense of 'who you are,' which means that only certain aspects of life and others can enter your 'field of reality'. Life is an unlimited and assorted mix, and we have always filled our personal world with whatever frequency we are vibrating at. Saying "Yes" to certain aspects and "No" to others shapes and creates this vibration - thereby shaping the truth of our life.

If you find boundary setting difficult, or you feel guilty in regard to claiming the right to state your truth, you are unclear about your identity. If you are unclear about who you are, life and others will penetrate your boundaries and mould you into who or what they are.

Hopefully you are now very clear about the vital importance of deciding what you'll say "Yes" to and what you will say "No" to. If you are unsure, you need to get powerfully clear to have any hope of setting limits, realities, standards and parameters for your life.

If you still have fear of setting boundaries, I would highly suggest Quanta Freedom Healing.

The Steps Of Setting Boundaries

  1. Pain of discomfort occurs.
    This signals a boundary violation.
  2. Be prepared to observe and feel the feeling without reacting.
    This is the creation of the 'gap' in order not to revert to previous reactions and previous wounds. Then you are capable of dealing with the issue in a mature and empowered space in the present moment.
  3. Realise no-one else is responsible for fixing your bad feeling. It's your job.
    This is an essential part of the steps that keep you connected to your own power.
  4. Connect to who you are (principle-centered identity) and what your truth is on the matter.
    Be prepared to calmly and clearly state and walk this truth. DO COURAGE!! State your truth as an 'I' statement - not a 'You' statement. Example: "I feel uncomfortable about doing that, so the answer is 'No'", rather than saying "I can't believe you'd expect me to do that."
  5. Detach from being connected to an individual or group validating your feelings or 'getting' where you are coming from.
    If you are reliant on another person for validating your feelings and understanding your point of view, your emotions and mental state will be dictated by this person. They don't need to 'get' you. YOU need to 'get' you.
  6. Detach from being connected to a particular outcome being created with that person or that situation.
    This is true identity assertion. It means you're aware you have the power to create your truth (even if it takes time) regardless of what life deals you. This is the philosophy of aligning with durable long-lasting results. This point (number 6) grants you ultimate freedom, because you no longer give into quick-fix solutions that don't stand the test of time.


If certain situations and people aren't matching your truth, they will either adjust their behaviour or depart from your reality. What you can be assured of is that your life will fill with the details, events and people that are the truth of you. Think about it... your life has always worked to this formula, whether you are conscious of it or not!

 

You and you alone are the creator of your own reality.
And this reality is created by your boundaries

 

 

Exercise: Do Your Boundaries Need Work?

How capable are you of keeping the good in and the bad out?

Ask yourself - do you:

  1. Struggle to have your own preferences. For example when asked 'what do you want to eat tonight?' do you say 'I don't care whatever you want?'
  2. Burn up emotional energy on things outside of your control?
  3. Allow others to intimidate you without speaking up?
  4. Ignore your own uncomfortable feelings and try to fix or change other peoples' uncomfortable feelings?
  5. Say "Yes" to people and situations because it's easier?
  6. Feel guilty when trying to say "No"?
  7. Let misunderstandings pass you by - hoping for the best?
  8. Have trouble accepting support and gifts?
  9. Tell people what they want to hear rather than speaking the truth?
  10. Tolerate aspects of your life that you know don't match your values?
  11. Fix other people's problems for them regardless of feeling uncomfortable?
  12. Take the blame for other people's problems?
  13. Put up with certain people's behaviour because you are scared of losing their affection or approval?
  14. Put up with a job because you are scared of losing security?
  15. Say "Yes" because you are fearful of disapproval?
  16. Have a high tolerance for inapplicable situations and people, and/or fight and 'hook into' inapplicable situations and people?
  17. Have individuals in your life who aren't taking responsibility for themselves who you feel responsible for?
  18. Often feel depressed, exhausted and unsupported?
  19. Have trouble speaking up and asking for support?
  20. Find it difficult to identify who you are, what you stand for and what you'll and won't tolerate - and back it up with courage and action?
  21. Attract rude, arrogant and manipulative people?
  22. Attract criticism, persecution and lack of support?
  23. Often feel like you are overly sensitive to other people's energy and tend to take on 'their stuff'?

Results

18 or over:
If you have said "Yes" to this many of the questions, you have severe boundary dysfunction. You have a condition known as 'reverse boundaries'. You are saying "Yes" to the bad, and "No" to the good. You have little sense of 'who you are' and have in fact taken on 'who everyone else is'. You are constantly getting enmeshed and controlled by life and people outside of you and have very little awareness of how to be empowered and navigate your life. Quanta Freedom Healing work is strongly suggested as you have many internal 'less than' beliefs creating this disempowerment. You are suffering grave lack of self-esteem and depression as a result of the breaches


14-17:
You have limited ability to create an empowered life. It is difficult to attach yourself to the work and goals that are meaningful for you. You feel controlled by life and other people, and are putting up with many aspects that feel uncomfortable and even overwhelming. Self-work is necessary to correct the problems.


6-13:
Even though you do have the ability to say "No" to certain areas of your life, there are still times when you give in to keep the peace. Learn to be more assertive and definite.


3-5:
You have the ability to honour yourself and create an empowered life. There is however, still room for improvement!


0-2:
You're a powerful person who knows how to set boundaries and honour yourself. You're a great example who facilitates good boundary awareness and empowerment for others. Keep up the great work!

 

Melanie
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Copyright © 2008 Melanie Tonia Evans. All Rights Reserved.
Read Melanie's Bio

Reproduction:
If you want to reproduce all or part of this article, please obtain written permission from Melanie Tonia Evans.

 

 

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