The idea of boundaries is often misunderstood in that boundaries hold negative connotations: they sound rigid, unbending, and selfish. They negate the openness we are often encouraged to uphold in our daily interactions. But boundaries are in fact essential - they are the key to your sovereignty and the foundation of your dignity and self respect.
What is a boundary exactly? It is a limit or space between you and the other person; a clear place where you begin and the other person ends. Throughout my work and within my studies, and ultimately as a result of my early life, I learned quite young the importance of setting boundaries. But it wasn’t until my late twenties that I reinforced and respected them in and around my life.
In the early stages of beginning to understand and establish boundaries, it is very possible that you are met with resistance or welcome situations and people who violate those boundaries. Most of us have not been taught to uphold our boundaries by the fact that we are often shamed and made to feel guilty for knowing and expressing how we want to be treated.
The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is, first and foremost, to protect and take care of you. Boundaries are for us and they are established for us, not against us.
The connotations we associate with boundaries is ultimately what makes this concept blurry and unclear. Contrary to what many people think, boundaries are not a form of control. Rather, boundaries are the ultimate test and invitation to take responsibility for our lives. Throughout any (and often all) of our interactions and relationships, we are asked to follow through on the limit we set, to re-emphasize and re-establish the boundary in order to be met with our desired outcome. The repetition and the need to reaffirm a boundary is the most challenging part in the best of times. As someone who has worked hard to understand and establish boundaries in my life, this is the ultimate test because there will always be people in your life who try to push the boundaries you set and it is up to us to hold firm to our original intentions and follow through.
But on the other side of knowing and establishing healthy boundaries is a stronger sense of self. Boundaries clear up confusion because we understand who we are. We can’t cultivate self-worth if we don’t have boundaries; we can’t cultivate self-love and self-respect if we don’t have self-worth. Boundaries give us a better idea of what we will and will not hold ourselves responsible for by cultivating a clear knowing of our individuality. In knowing ourselves and establishing healthy boundaries, we feel safe within ourselves and in knowing that we have established that safety, we cultivate the confidence, courage, and self-respect to pursue our lives on our own terms. Healthy boundaries allows us to not let the shame and guilt of others dictate our behaviour - we become responsible for what we choose.
Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you should have the ability to stay serene, no matter how you are treated. Your serenity comes from the knowledge that you have a fundamental right to a nurturing environment and a fundamental right to affirm your boundaries.
Boundaries are the key to your sovereignty and foundations of your dignity and self respect. I look forward to holding space and sharing these teachings with you.