Why setting boundaries is an act of self-love
A lot of people tend to think that setting boundaries is an unkind or selfish thing to do, like it’s creating separation and shutting people out.
But, you know what? Setting boundaries not only is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and others, but it actually brings you closer to people. Fancy that!
You see, people with little or no boundaries usually say yes to things that, deep down, they don’t want to do and can find themselves overgiving and tolerating behaviour that can actually be harmful to them both emotionally and in extreme cases physically. People with no boundaries, are, in fact, creating s eparation by not letting people see who they really are and what they need. They are - in the moments where they are saying “yes”, when they really mean “no” - completely disconnecting from themself and what they need in order to feel safe and supported.
And do you know one of the biggest reasons why people find it hard to set boundaries?
Because of the need to be liked, validated and approved of by other people. Other people's perception and opinion takes priority over anything else, so every relationship then becomes about getting something from someone. Lack of boundaries becomes a safety mechanism in order to feel, well, exactly that: safe. The validation from others gives a false reassurance that we are loved, seen and approved of.
And before we go on, we just want to say: We’ve all been there! And it’s no surprise that many of us develop this inability to set boundaries or say, “No”, because we’ve been taught from a young age that we need to please our parents in order to receive love.
But now we’re adults, we can change that!
Healthy boundaries and worthiness are synonymous
Really, setting healthy boundaries is a natural byproduct of feeling worthy. When we love who we are in all our magnificent uniqueness, we radiate a confidence and an inner strength that energetically shows people how to treat us. And if you love and respect yourself, what will be reflected back is love and respect from others.
Ok, so that’s all very well said and done, but what does setting boundaries actually look like?
Expressing your needs
This is a biggie!
When someone speaks or acts in a way that disrespects us, we can feel the emotional discord of that. But that emotional discord is a good thing. It’s flagging up something that doesn’t feel quite right and is asking us to address it.
Expressing our needs isn’t about pointing the finger or blaming. It’s about first of all expressing how you felt during that triggering situation. For example, “when you said X, I felt hurt/angry/upset/unloved/jealous/insecure etc”.
A lot of shame can come up around truly expressing and communicating our feelings and needs. Being vulnerable is scary! But being vulnerable is the key to connection and also helps the other person understand how their actions or words have affected us, when they may otherwise not have realised.
Second of all, what do you need the other person to do? Being specific about what you would like the other person to do in order for you to get your needs met gives them a chance to work with you to create a more harmonious, balanced relationship/situation. And also, you can’t expect things to change if you’re not expressing what you really need.
This isn’t about making other people responsible for how you feel. This is about owning how you feel, taking responsibility for your emotions and giving them the space to be heard, expressed and witnessed. It’s simply about having an honest conversation and exploring what comes up.
The right people will stay
As we mentioned before, a lot of the time people don’t set healthy boundaries because they don’t want to risk being disliked or rejected. But the thing is, if we don’t set boundaries and express our true feelings and needs, we let the wrong people into our lives. And believe it when we say - you want to be rejected by the wrong people, they do you a massive favour! The right people will honour you, your feelings and your needs.
If you’re interested in ways to communicate feelings and needs in your relationships in a way that doesn’t blame or shame the other person, then we really recommend watching Marshall Rosenberg's Workshop on non-violent communication. This kind of communication can really be a lifesaver in relationships.
Treat others the way you wish to be treated
It’s important to realise when setting clear and healthy boundaries that you don’t need to do it with any ounce of defiance or aggression. Asserting yourself and expressing your needs can be done with kindness and compassion. This also creates a platform for others to be as honest about how they feel and what they need with you too, with that same level of compassion.
If we are wanting people to hear our feelings without judgement and listen to our needs, then we must be willing to do the same in return.
But if someone is violating or refusing to listen to your needs, it’s OK to walk away. In fact, walking away is the best and kindest thing you can do for yourself.
Always be kind. To others, yes. But most of all to yourself.
If you’d like to work more on creating healthy boundaries and authentic communication in your relationships, we have two fabulous practitioners, Fiona and Hannah who can really help you access your own inner power and fearlessness around vulnerability.
Remember, the only person you ever need approval from, is you.