I am in the middle a short blog series on the importance of setting boundaries. This is part two. Click here to read part one of the series.
Boundaries allow you to get clear about what belongs to you versus what belongs to someone else. I like to think of a hula-hoop when I think about boundaries.
Imagine that you and every adult had a hula-hoop around them. Anything inside your hula-hoop is your responsibility. Anything outside of it then it belongs to someone else and is not yours to carry or manage.
The challenge is, some of us get caught taking responsibility for other people’s hula-hoops. We either take a hold of other people’s hoops because we decide they need our help.
Or we allow other people to put their hula-hoops over us in an attempt to make us responsible for what is their responsibility.
There are also times when people try to take control of our hula-hoops or step into it trying to manage what’s happening in our lives.
Either way, two adults inside one hula-hoop simply does not work. In the same way, trying to manage what’s not yours to carry will exhaust and drain you.
Why do people struggle with boundaries? I believe there are a few reasons why this happens. These 7 myths play a role in why people have such a hard time. (These have been adapted from the work of Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend):
Myth #1 – If I set boundaries, I’m being selfish
Setting boundaries is good self-care; it is not selfish. When your boundaries are strong, you are ensuring that you are better able to take care of those around you; they keep your cup full. You are then able to give to others from an overflow rather than from an empty cup.
Myth #2 – Boundaries are a sign of not being dependable
You want people to know they can depend on you. So, you say yes to everything even when it doesn’t feel right or good to you. The thing is, an internal no negates and external yes. If your lips and your heart don’t align then you are being dishonest.
There is a dissonance that happens inside your soul. This ultimately leads to stress and anxiety, which can compromise the integrity of what you do. People will respect you more when you are intentional with your yeses.
Myth #3 – If I begin setting boundaries, I will be hurt by others
Some people in your life may indeed retaliate against your boundaries. They won’t like it and they won’t hesitate to tell you how they feel. Your boundaries then become an indicator of the strength of your relationships.
If someone walks away from or shuns you for your boundaries, how solid was that relationship anyway? Boundaries can help you determine the quality of the relationships in your life.
Myth #4 – If I set boundaries, I will hurt others
Your boundaries are not a weapon being aimed at the people around you. They aren’t intended to attack or hurt anyone. Instead, they serve to protect you, and this is not a bad thing (see myth# 1). Making someone uncomfortable is not the same as causing them harm. Understanding this distinction can serve you as you think about your boundaries.
Myth #5 – Boundaries mean that I am angry
Anger is a sign that your boundaries are being violated. Your habit of suppressing your real feelings for the sake of others did not make those emotions go away. They have been there all along.
When you start telling the truth, saying no when you want to say no, it’s like releasing the steam valve on a pressure cooker. Sometimes, the anger is not new but is coming from the past; years of no’s that never got expressed are now finding a way out. The anger will dissipate over time as you continue to practice holding your boundaries.
Myth #6 – Boundaries cause feelings of guilt
There isn’t a direct correlation between boundaries and guilt. Guilt shows up from a sense of obligation. When you feel obligated to an employer, a friend, or even a family member, it can feel “wrong” to set a boundary.
This becomes harder when others use guilt as a way to manipulate your actions. Discerning what’s real and factual versus what’s being manufactured is necessary in this process.
Myth #7 – Boundaries are permanent, and I’m afraid of burning my bridges
When setting boundaries, reserve the right to change your mind. New information, a new perspective, or a new level of understanding/maturity all can result in a shift in what feels right for you. In any situation, stay curious and check in with yourself often to see if a boundary you have set needs to change. They are not permanent; you can adjust and change them as needed.
Replacing these myths with the truth is essential in building HEALTHY relationships with the people in your life.
I’m curious, which of these myths resonate most with you? Where do you struggle? Tell me in the comments below.
In the meantime, here’s to you setting good boundaries and rising into your greatness.
From my heart to yours,
P.S: If you’re struggling with setting boundaries I would love to see how I can support you. Click here to schedule a complimentary call with me.