They can be a tricky one. If you have some people-pleasing habits, or haven’t yet learnt how to value yourself and your skills enough, boundary challenges can become a frustrating part of everyday life. The frustration is a red flag! You teach people how to treat you – so make sure you’re sending the right messages. And make sure YOU are valuing you.
It’s very easy to make boundaries about “other people”
We can find ourselves saying things like:
“This person asks too much of me, that person doesn’t value my time, ‘they’ are trying to use me, or sell to me, or take from me, ‘they’ don’t respect my skills enough, ‘they’ don’t have good boundaries.”
Sometimes, we’re subconsciously expecting OTHERS to take responsibility for our boundaries and to basically read our mind and know what is or isn’t appropriate in their dealings with us. We don’t want to “offend” someone, or have to speak up and state our boundaries, we just hope they’ll “do the right thing.”
We decide that having strong boundaries will upset or disappoint others (even though the opposite might happen – they might feel inspired to have healthier boundaries themselves!) Or we might feel a strong charge about a perceived boundary violation and overreact to a situation that could have been better handled in a far more neutral, detached way.
Whenever you find yourself going into blame, justification, angst, complaining or feeling upset about someone else’s “lack of boundaries” there is a message right there for YOU.
What might the message be?
Sometimes, we simply haven’t been clear in our communication. We might not be managing or valuing our own time or resources effectively (and then we’re getting annoyed at others who are picking up on this). It might be that we simply need to say “no” and give ourselves permission to do this without a bunch of unnecessary angst and analysis.
Sometimes a boundary test gives us an opportunity to be clearer and to set up a new process or approach to prevent the same thing happening in future.
Here’s the thing: it’s not really about “them”.
“They” are just showing your where there might be some potential holes in your self-worth, a boundary you need to set up or a chance to be clearer in your communication.
Our boundaries can be a reflection of our self-worth. If you value and respect yourself, you will find it much easier to clearly communicate your boundaries, follow up when required, and remove yourself from situations where you feel your boundaries are being compromised, even when clearly communicated. It won’t feel like a drama or a stress, in fact you’ll hardy notice it happening. It will feel clean and clear.
If you often put others first, put yourself down, ignore your own needs, but also find yourself often feeling frustrated or annoyed at the lack of respect others show you, or the fact they don’t value your skills enough, or you find yourself going over and over interactions in your head, it might be time for some reflection. Time and time again I’ve seen with my Kinesiology clients that if you transform the way YOU feel within, and the outside world will shift to reflect that.
What to do when your boundaries are tested?
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel your boundaries are being tested, you might ask yourself:
- Am I 100% valuing myself, my skills and my time?
- Is this triggering any old memories of other times I haven’t felt respected or valued? (This person might be a messenger to trigger you to heal an earlier wound)
- Do I need to get clearer on my communication?
- Am I making an assumption that this person is not respecting my boundaries? Is it possible it’s a misunderstanding and I just need to clear it up?
- Am I turning this into something bigger than it needs to be, creating a drama out of it in my mind or complaining to others rather than simply taking an appropriate action and moving on?
- Is there a way I can be clearer, or a new process I can put in place to prevent this happening in future?
- Am I continuing to unnecessarily engage in a situation where my boundaries are not being respected? Is the best way to show myself respect to now remove myself and move on?
As you work on setting boundaries in your life, little “tests” will often pop up to allow you to observe if you’re being serious about the boundary. Embrace them!
You’ll know your new boundary is clear when you can express it with ease and when you feel little or no angst about dealing with a situation where the boundary is compromised.
Read my follow up article about boundary problems here.