Boundaries: Maintaining, Sustaining
Last week, we gleefully ran through the tricky and often confusing world of setting boundaries… the unusual and unknown space where you’re asked to suspend all people pleasing habits and instead learn about… yourself.
Novel. I know.
In this post, we’re going to be tackling some of the harder known areas of maintaining your boundaries; essentially, what to do after you’ve found where you’d like to place them, uttered your shaky words and now going about your life as a human with boundaries.
From the off, boundaries are difficult. They require you to learn about yourself, to put yourself out there and set a standard of behaviour; that is hard. Within all of this, we're setting ourselves up for possible rejection. Ouch.
A boundary can be easier to put in place when you know for sure the other person will be respectful, appreciate you expressing yourself and genuinely cares to learn more about how you like to be treated, they're easier to take care of when they don't need much management…
Alas, a boundary is excruciating when this isn’t the case. In fact, when someone doesn’t listen to or respect your boundary, it can leave you feeling:
Confused; you may question or doubt yourself
Frustrated; left wondering if you communicated well enough
Invalidated; questioning if you’re worth the treatment or standards you’re asking for
Alongside this, many are not used to having relationships, of any form, that they feel emotionally safe in which makes learning boundaries especially hard. If you are used to pleasing others, carrying a sense of duty or guilt, feeling and doing positive things for yourself can feel unfamiliar on many levels. (Helllooo being human)
So, when starting your exploration of boundaries, it's easy to feel like you're "doing it wrong" or you want someone else to do it for you. Boundaries are hard. Full-stop. And they require ongoing attention and effort to maintain.
The following explores 3 wonderful areas of boundary setting to chew on as you learn your way. This is by no means exhaustive, and it could even be too much. As with everything, this is here to help you develop YOUR autonomy, I'm just writing away; take what resonates and leave what doesn't.
I'm not your therapist. I'm not perfect and these aren't "flawless" points, but they can give you a shit tonne more than the alternative of nothing. Your boundaries themselves are forever evolving with you, and so learning a number of areas around them can help you feel a touch more rooted than you may otherwise.
Guide yourself into feeling more secure in boundaries as a practise, rather than feeling one particular boundary is the be all and end all.
YOUR BOUNDARIES ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
In my work, boundaries are one of the most common areas of focus. Whether from clients, or in my DM’s, a common feedback I hear is “I set X boundary, but they didn’t respect it, so I guess that doesn’t work”.
This test and assess process is a normal part of human function, we give something a go, see how it fairs and then depending on the results we get, decide whether we’ll do it again. NB: there’s mega caveats to this btw.
The issue of setting boundaries and only enforcing them based on the results they cultivate is that, quite frankly, you’re probably looking at the wrong results.