We use the word boundaries a lot, without really thinking of its implications and what it truly means. We just know we should have them and many of us don’t!
Brené Brown says that boundaries are simply “What is ok for you and what isn’t”. This appeals to me because it helps me analyse what boundaries I need in my life and which I need to really express, its driven by my feelings and what I need or don’t need.
All good on paper, but as we all know, it’s when we need to express what isn’t ok for us to others, that is often becomes a real challenge!
In therapy we often work with this issue; to help clients work out if their boundaries are being tested.
We begin by practicing on the small things that effect their lives and working with how to deal with the discomfort this often brings up.
One of my clients really struggles with saying no to her Mother and her need to control her life. Its such a challenging thing to learn to take back control but this client knew (after lots of self reflection) that she needed to put down a boundary.
She struggled to know what to do but we agreed that by saying no to a small thing was a good place to start, she dreaded the nightly phone calls after a busy day. We decided this was a good place to start, so she honestly and with kindness, explained to her Mother that on Thursday evening she needed some time to herself. We worked on how she would say this and how she would manage the discomfort.
I love to hear how, with patience clients can change their relationships with others and themselves. This client was so brave and now, after successfully negotiating herself a free evening, she has the confidence to put others boundaries in place.
Really learning to listen to how you feel will tell you that something may be testing your boundaries. Ask yourself what do you need to make it ok? It often comes up that you need to let someone else know what boundaries you have, despite how uncomfortable this might make you feel.
I am also really interested in the boundaries we need to observe within ourselves, often we push ourselves to do things we hate out of duty or guilt. By listening to how these things make us feel, we may be able to put in boundaries to be kinder and more accepting of ourselves.