Boundaries vs walls

I’ve been thinking a lot this last week, sparked as often is the case by something I read, about boundaries. I’m thinking here of the boundaries we have with other people and also with ourselves. Boundaries are healthy things and it is important that we both respect our own boundaries (and those of others) while not allowing boundaries to be built slowly into walls that inhibit or block us from each other.

The piece I read stated that without boundaries, things dissolve into chaos. And I began to realise that there was a lot of that going on in my life. I was not being strong about the boundary between work and home, resulting in feeling that I should always be working, including weekends.

The chaos in a few areas with friends has resulted in feeling hurt or excluded or ignored. Stepping back has resulted in a clearer view for me in where my boundaries were blurred. My good friends know that I will be there for them no matter what and vice versa. At times, I am not good at speaking up and saying what I need clearly. I still may not get it, but it is still important to be able to say it. I am getting clearer about what is, and is not, reasonable.

In some cases, what I perceive as exclusion is probably a result of a friend respecting what they see as my boundary on needing to focus on work or being unable to go out as much as I would like due to saving for a trip. Until I speak to them and clarify this, I won’t know. There is no point taking it to heart. My expectation to be included by specific invitation to things is simply that – my expectations. You’d think that after so long I would remember that it is our expectations, particularly the unvoiced ones, that can cause us the greatest pain.

The expectations have caused me some distress with another friend. I expected that things would continue the way they had been with lots of contact so that I could return some of the generous support I had received previously now that they are dealing with a difficult situation. I have had to step back and reassess how I can be a supportive, loving friend while not transgressing their boundaries. I accept that the limited communication is what they want right now. I have asked for what I want and now need to respect their boundaries.

And life is a constant process of change and reassessment. Without boundaries…it can result in chaos. With boundaries that are too strong, we can start slowly to build walls without realising it. Each action cementing another brick into a wall that can’t be overcome except by honest communication and acceptance of each others needs. I can see how I do this myself. Sometimes I misinterpret someone else’s boundary as rejection or dislike of me, resulting in me pulling back and slowly building a wall. On occasion I may be right and self-protection is the correct course of action. At other times, more often than I like, I let other people cross my boundaries and play merry hell with my life.This is something I am working on – being able to clearly show people where the line is…and knowing in myself what I will do if or when they cross it.

I’m getting clearer on my boundaries with others and the ones I have with myself. Part of thinking about this was realising my boundaries over my own personal behaviour and what I will accept from myself need to be clearer. I need to take better care of myself and am off now to work out what that means.

Do you know where your boundaries are? And who is allowed to cross them? Under what circumstances? It sure is interesting finding out. The patterns of boundary lines are ever-shifting (we all have some that are set in stone) and different parts are highlighted each day. It’s like a kaleidoscope of shifting patterns…but that’s another post.

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2 Responses to Boundaries vs walls

  1. Michelle Gibson says:

    sometimes I think there are to many ways to be in touch with people…it’s easy to feel neglected with people who ignore you in 8 different media….lol. there is so much pressure to be in touch with people every day…it’s just not possible, well without going insane from having to live up to everyone’s expectations! Remember when all we had was a letter in the post? I still love to get mail that’s not a bill. My boundaries change like the tides…I agree all you can do is stay in touch and hope the other person does too.

    • I agree, there are so many ways to keep in touch that when someone doesn't respond you can take it personally. When someone ignores you on IM, FB messages, email etc, it's easy to take it very personally. I am thinking that less social media, more of the blog and time away from the computer will help. Boundaries do shift and change, but it does help when you KNOW as I do with you that the person will always be there. With other people, I find it helps if people are explicit with their boundaries and expectations but we don't always get what we want 🙂

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