Have you ever been lashed out at by a significant other? It isn’t acceptable to speak in a nasty tone, use harsh language, or scream and shout at each other. You know that and expect your partner to have been brought up with similar values and decorum. There is a name for it and it is called verbal abuse. What happens when one or both people do not approach a disagreement calmly and lovingly? What if things escalate and a husband or wife or both get physical and start slapping, hitting, pushing each other? Is it that the boundary lines were not expressed, should they even have to and can they be respected after an incidence of violence?
“Good fences make good neighbors”, states Robert Frost’s old proverb from his well-loved poem. Likewise, good personal boundaries make for good relationships. Boundaries are the invisible lines of protection that one draws around themselves. Such lines let others know where your limits are set, as well as how they can act or what they can say in your presence.
Just as important are healthy boundaries, which provide freedom in relating to others. If such boundaries are too solid - they become walls. On the other hand, if your boundaries are too weak, you allow other’s actions to harm you.
Your boundary limits, or where they should be, is not as clear a topic as one would expect. Studying the signs for ignored or ineffective boundaries in order to recognize them is a good place to start however, as these “signs” provide clues as to what the needed boundary should be. Take a look at the following statements in order see if any of them are true to your situation.
Sign #1: Aloofness and Distance.
You are unwilling or fearful of opening your private self to others, or you build walls in order to ensure that others don’t invade your emotional or physical space. This may be a defense against passed cruel behavior, abuse or neglect that you were obliged to endure. A person with healthy boundaries though, knows where to draw a line over which they will not allow anyone to cross. More importantly, individuals with healthy boundaries recognize their right to say “No!”
Sign #2: Chip on the shoulder.
This type of attitude screams, “I dare you to come too close!”. Such an attitude is often the result of anger stemming from a past violation of your physical or emotional space by someone else. Even worse, your boundaries may have been completely ignored! Once again, having healthy boundaries equally means being capable of speaking up when your limits have been reached. In other words, this leaves you free to trust the fact that you can assertively protect yourself in order to ensure you are not ultimately hurt.
Sign #3: Over-involvement.
With this type of attitude, the goal is that both parties must do everything together - at all times. In this way, everyone must think, feel and act the same, without deviation from typical group norms. In terms of healthy boundaries, such acknowledge that you have the right to explore your own interests, hobbies and personal outlets.
Sign #4: Invisibility.
When your main objective is not to be seen or heard in order to avoid your boundaries being violated - you’re probably holding onto an invisibility type attitude. Healthy boundaries are in effect when you stand up for yourself. Instead, be visible, be heard - let others learn to respect your rights, needs and personal space.
Sign #5: Dissociation.
When you “blank out” or “become absent-minded” and “distant” during stressful emotional events, such an attitude type results in one being out of touch with their feelings and unable to assert their limits. Healthy boundaries allow to assertively protect yourself from further violation or pain, as well as to end relationships by your own choosing with those who fail to respect such limits. In other words, healthy boundaries, you can begin to feel your feelings again.
Sign #6: Smothering and lack of privacy.
If you’ve ever felt that another is overly concerned about your needs, your interests, or that nothing you ever think, feel or do is your own personal business - you may be dealing with an intrusive relationship, one that obtrudes into your emotional and physical space, leaving you feeling overwhelmed or struggling for air. Healthy boundaries ask that others respect your uniqueness, your choices and your autonomy.
Apply your limits and boundaries in 6 simple steps
How would it feel to say YES to yourself and to say no to people who cross the line? Now that you’ve read through several problematic boundary areas, you’ve perhaps taken notice of certain zones where your limits need to be clarified or put into place. It is now time to start putting up those fences, or invisible lines, in order to keep unwanted visitors away. If you’re looking for ways to have your limits respected and your boundaries applied, all while avoiding negative relationships, then read through the following strategies:
STEP 1: Start by gaining your self composure. Calm yourself by taking several deep breaths that you exhale slowly.
STEP 2: Remind yourself that you are within your personal right to set your own limits and boundaries.
STEP 3: In a firm and composed manner, express your feelings to the other person.
STEP 4: Communicate your limits clearly, especially in cases where you are extending a boundary and even more so when you’re setting a new one.
STEP 5: Ask the other person to respect your boundaries.
STEP 6: Afterwards, take the time to make a thought out decision concerning the relationship, according to how the other person responds to your request.
Author’s content used under license, © 2010 Claire Communications