So what’s your favourite season? I love the autumn, and it’s definitely on its way! Right now, I’m looking outside my window and noticing the leaves blowing around in the light breeze. Some get blown off, and others cling to the branches of the trees. And this got me thinking about boundaries in relationships.
Less Fear Means More Pain
The wind blows wherever it wants; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know what direction it’s coming from or where it is going. Or for that matter where it might take you.
That’s just what it’s like when you have poor boundaries.
Then it’s as if you’re those leaves blowing around in the wind in whatever direction it wants to take you.
Whether it’s your husband, partner, boss or mother; they get to make the choices for you and about you. In effect, someone else has the power to reshape your life whether that’s your emotional wellbeing, the quality of your sleep, your money, your health or ultimately your freedom.
And what’s more your guilt, anxiety, fear or shame make that breeze feel like a gale.
Fear is incredibly powerful. Boundaries in relationships become difficult to enforce when you are fearful of rejection, conflict, punishment or being abandoned.
But when you don’t have effective personal boundaries, your handing over your power and control to whoever it is that it’s hard to say no.
You’ll have little sense of direction in your life. You won’t know where you’re going when you’ll get there or if you will.
Persuasion or Manipulation: The Hurricane To Boundaries
How often are you persuaded to do something you don’t want to do? It’s so easily done, particularly when injected with a dose of guilt.
Here’s an example of how:
R: Can you take me to work tomorrow morning? I have a meeting?
A: Oh, okay, I wanted to go to the gym before work I’ve booked a yoga class
R: It’s crucial, I think there might be some changes at work, and I want to give a good impression by getting there early
A: Okay, but I wanted to go to my class. How about you get an Uber?
R: No, that will be too expensive and seems a waste of money with a car outside.
A: That’s true, but how about I drop you at the station, and you can get an earlier train?
R: Uhmm, I need to get a good nights sleep and be prepared. I really would appreciate it if you took me. Can’t you take the class next week? I need your support, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want me to miss out.
A: Okay, then. What time do you want to leave?
There’s nothing wrong with you wanting to help others. And equally, there’s nothing wrong with you wanting to prioritise your needs. Because when you don’t your resentment builds because you are continually doing things you don’t want to do.
In this scenario, there could have easily been a win-win. What blocked that was persuasion, manipulation and poor boundaries.
Healthy boundaries in relationships allow you to make deliberate choices about what’s important to you and what gives you pleasure.
What’s To Protect: Lacking A Sense of Self
What you are essentially doing when you have poor boundaries is handing responsibility to others to make decisions about your life. So not setting boundaries is a way of avoiding responsibility.
So why do you do that?
When you lack a healthy sense of self, you experience self-doubt. You don’t trust your judgment, intuition or decisions.
As in this instance, you question whether you have the right to go to the yoga class or have that drink with a friend. You don’t think it’s okay to have a different opinion from your partner.
Maybe guilt gets in the way of ending a relationship with a partner who is critical, draining, argumentative, and abusive. You censor and shut yourself down, rationalise, and ignore your inner wisdom.
The Power of Personal Boundaries
Boundaries help you to take a step back from the fear of what other people think. They allow you to experience your emotions, your beliefs and your desires. They give you the space to discover who you are, despite the messages from others about how they want you to be or are telling you who you should be.
When you have experienced childhood trauma, you may have learnt a sense of helplessness and that you are not able to be responsible for yourself. Then it’s not uncommon to feel distracted, powerless, and as if we are blowing around in the wind.
Setting boundaries and maintaining them isn’t always easy.
For sure, some people, particularly those who are narcissistically wounded, won’t be pleased with your new-found boundary-setting skills. Their investment will be in maintaining the status quo. They may become angry when you disagree, think differently, do not surrender to their persuasion and start setting personal boundaries.
So, how are your boundaries?
7 Things People Struggling With Boundaries in Relationships Feel
Here are 7 signs that you are blowing around in the wind and struggling with setting personal boundaries:
- Anxiety, you notice tightness in the chest, or your heart is racing.
- Your body feels the pain, e.g. pain in the throat.
- You’re overwhelmed because you feel used and that people take advantage of you.
- Discouraged as your inner critic has a field day.
- Guilt, if you say no to others, you feel bad.
- Smothered, you feel claustrophobic and want to escape.
- Anger, you notice feelings of resentment, irritation or annoyance and see yourself behaving passive-aggressively.
If you are noticing two or more of these things then perhaps it’s a sign that you are not in control of your life.
Setting personal boundaries is a way of honouring and respecting yourself. Sometimes you need to be able to say no.
This isn’t necessarily easy or painless. But it is the route to greater freedom. You will begin to feel more grounded and stable in yourself and who you are. That’s priceless. And you can take back control.
Over To You
Are you struggling with setting boundaries in relationships? If you want a safe space to discuss and explore what are your boundaries, get in touch, and book your first counselling appointment. I offer video sessions online via a secure platform. Coronavirus (COVID-19) doesn’t need to put your therapy sessions on pause.
Or call me today on 07535 864836.
Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. PASS IT ON
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© Sandra Harewood 2020
Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create a great relationship.