Do you struggle with boundaries? Is it sometimes tough for you to recognize when a boundary has been crossed? Could you use a little help with knowing how to set a limit or say no to someone without feeling guilty?
If this feels familiar, you’re in luck because in today’s episode I’m hitting the top 5 questions I get asked about boundaries, because, let’s be honest – nobody taught us how to do this.
We can think we are the only one out there struggling, but it isn’t true. I see you, I got you, and I am on a mission to help you create the healthy relationships and extraordinary life you deserve. It all starts with the power of boundaries, so let’s dive into the Q+A’s.
Top 5 Boundary Questions:
1. Isn’t a boundary a wall? How are boundaries good for my relationships?
Boundaries are not walls. They aren’t meant to block people or push them away. You can think about your boundaries as a bridge to deeper, more fulfilling experiences in all your relationships (including the one you have with yourself!).
Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is communicating clearly and effectively about what is ok and what isn’t ok with you to the people in your life. It is telling the truth about how you feel, about what you want, and about what you need.
Your boundaries are what makes you, YOU. When you can share your preferences, desires, limits, and deal-breakers with the people in your life, you are letting them truly know you. In this way, boundaries are a bridge to intimacy, not a block.
2. How do I know when a boundary has been crossed?
This question speaks to not being sure what our rights are when it comes to boundaries. It makes a lot of sense, especially when we consider the messaging we’ve received since childhood: “don’t be a troublemaker”, “don’t be dramatic”, and “turn that frown upside down”- am I right? Many of us have been socialized to second-guess our feelings, so if this is confusing to you, I’m going to invite you to dial into your body.
Take a second and think about…
> The moment someone makes a rude or offensive comment
> When someone asks you to do something you’ve already said no to, but they ask you again
> Any other example of some boundary bullshit in your life
What’s the response in your body? Is there a constriction or a tightness? It could be in your chest, your stomach, or your throat. Does your head start to hurt or do your cheeks flush? You might even physically cringe away from someone. You might go into a fight, flight, or freeze reaction.
The body always knows. If you are unsure if a boundary has been crossed, do a body scan. Then, check your resentment. If you feel resentful about it, it can be a red flag that a boundary has been crossed or a need is not being met.
3. How can I set boundaries kindly and clearly without sounding selfish?
This speaks to one of the biggest blocks people encounter when they are looking to become more fluent in boundaries. There is a fear of doing it wrong or doing it in a caustic way and alienating people.
But within the question is the assumption that setting boundaries in some way makes you bitchy, selfish, or self-centered. Ask yourself: what are my limiting beliefs about someone who has healthy boundaries?
Do I think someone who is self-assertive and asks for what they want is a “diva” or “high-maintenance”?
Am I afraid someone will think I am a bad person/mom/daughter/friend/coworker etc?
The first step to changing anything is to uncover what’s going on under the surface of your fears and why. Raising your awareness of why boundaries are difficult for you specifically, based on your family of origin, your culture, your personality, and lived experiences can empower you to learn how to do it your way.
Everything I teach inside Boundary Bootcamp, from the scripts and sentence starters to the techniques and strategies, is designed to be totally customizable to you and to just about any situation you might find yourself in. The way you would handle boundary setting with your boss is quite different from the way you would a friend or a romantic partner, but I promise you, you can learn this!
Setting and communicating your boundaries with kindness, clarity, and confidence is absolutely possible and essential to creating your most satisfying, most self-directed life.
4. Why is it hard to maintain my boundary once I set it? Why do I cave and want to take it back?
If this is you, first, it’s normal, especially if you are new to setting boundaries. Second, when you begin to change the boundary dances in your life, you will likely get pushback from those around you. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the people in your life or the way you are communicating your boundary request. As human beings, we tend to be resistant to change, including whether we are setting a boundary or respecting someone else’s boundary.
When we change, it can make the people in our lives feel a little or a lot afraid. But it is completely possible to stay lovingly connected to those in our lives and establish healthy, appropriate boundaries.
Why do you cave or want to take it back once you set a limit or assert a boundary? Again, as humans, we might fear abandonment, rejection, or judgment. Fear is a major reason for caving in when the other person doesn’t like the boundary we set.
If you are conflict avoidant or can’t stand confrontation, pushback might feel intolerable to you and you give in. You might feel guilty, or bad, or like you just don’t want to deal with it. It might feel easier in the short term to give in.
The real reason we give in or go back on our boundaries is we don’t have any solid training on how to do this. Many of us were taught not to have boundaries. If you were raised to believe self-sacrifice = love and the more of a martyr you are, the better of a person you are, then it absolutely makes sense for boundary setting to feel threatening.
5. Why does setting a boundary make me feel so guilty? Why do I feel like I don’t deserve to have a voice?
If you grew up in a family system where shaming, blaming, and emotional manipulation was present, it can make you vulnerable in the present. You might have internalized feelings of guilt along with fears of abandonment and rejection. The good news is now is not then. Now, you have a choice to be more mindful, seek out self-knowledge, and break free from dysfunctional behavioral patterns.
If you struggle with guilt, this week’s downloadable is a guilt-free boundary guided meditation. I invite you to take some time for yourself and try it. It’s a relatively short guided meditation I created specifically to assuage some of this guilt and to plant some conscious and unconscious seeds for you that you have every right to healthy boundaries.
You can download your guilt-free boundary guided meditation right here.
Much of your relationship to boundary setting is based on modeled and learned behavior influenced by your unique and specific life experiences. What did you experience? What did you witness?
Reflecting on these questions can help you better understand yourself and your past. The more deeply you can understand the “why” from a psychological perspective, the more quickly you can begin to shift and make changes in your life.
You have a million good reasons to have these challenges. And you can learn the language of healthy boundaries, I promise you. Becoming a boundary boss is a skill set and it takes practice, but you can do this.
When you have clear, appropriately flexible boundaries, you have a deep understanding of yourself, your preferences, desires, needs, and deal-breakers, and you can communicate them effectively.
Cultivating these skills will take some learning (and unlearning!), but it is worth it. Healthy boundaries protect you from emotional harm, safeguard your time and energy, strengthen all of your relationships. Plus, free you to be your most empowered self.
Inside Boundary Bootcamp, I’ve taught tens of thousands of people around the globe how to set and maintain healthy boundaries and I would be honored to be your guide through this process.
If you’re interested in checking out Boundary Bootcamp, you can go right here to get the information and join us! We’re getting started on September 22nd!
In the meantime, I hope this was helpful to you. Have an amazing week and as always take care of you.