As I learn more about my authentic self, I seem to be hyper aware of when my emotions are spiraling out of control. Yesterday I had a reminder that I really need to work on setting some personal boundaries.
We have a chore chart at our house which includes a list of who does the dishes each night. The consequence for not doing them on your assigned night is that you get to have dishes the whole week until your turn comes around again. This has been working well, except with one particular child.
This sweet son of mine is a huge blessing in my life. Of all my children, he is the most protective of me and is very sensitive to my needs and feelings. Overall, we have a great relationship, but I know that I’m often too easy on him.
So, late last night, after reminding him it was his turn to do the dishes, who do you think was stacking the dishwasher at midnight? Yep, ME!
I admit it. I have a problem.
We had a minor blow-up today when I reminded him he now has the dishes for a week. His argument was that I gave other people a second chance . . . blah, blah, blah. Of course, he’s already had more than one chance. But, because I usually give in, I guess he thought it was worth a try.
I was mad — not so much at him, but at myself. I didn’t like the feelings that surfaced, and I’ve been thinking about it all afternoon. I’ve narrowed my problem down to a lack of boundaries.
So, what is a boundary?
Boundaries are where you begin and where someone else ends. They are the deepest act of self-care there is, and it is your job to set them.
People who lack personal boundaries have a common set of characteristics. See if any of these sound like you.
1) You take personal responsibility for other people’s thoughts or feelings.
In other words, you are a people pleaser or constantly worrying about what other people think of you. You also let guilt rule your choices.
2) You are angry a lot of the time.
Being angry or frustrated is an indicator that your boundaries have been crossed. You may even feel that setting boundaries is not okay, although deep down it’s something you desire.
3) You feel resentful toward people you love.
Perhaps you feel resentment toward your spouse, friend, or even your child. Resentment is one of the strongest signs that your boundaries are being crossed. This often also builds resentment toward yourself because you feel angry that you can’t stand up for yourself when being treated poorly.
4) You enable or allow poor behavior at the expense of your own well-being.
This is especially common in people who have relationships with addicts. It is also easy to fall into this pattern as a mother. Your needs have to come first.
5) The only way you know how to get what you want is to be manipulative, abusive, or mean.
You often fall into one extreme or the other. You are either being walked all over, or you feel like you have to be mean to get your point across.
What’s the bottom line?
Learning how to set boundaries is a necessary step in taking care of ourselves. We need to be able to tell other people when they are acting in ways that are not acceptable to us.
The first step is realizing that you have the right to take care of yourself. You MUST take responsibility for how you allow others to treat you.
With boundaries, as in every area of self improvement, change starts with awareness. I had to hear about boundaries, and start learning the concept before I could even realize that I didn’t have any. So for now, I’m watching and learning. Bit by bit I’ve started setting boundaries and standing up for myself. No matter how hard it might seem, I know that this is a necessary step on my path to self acceptance.
If you’d like to read more about where to begin there are lots of great resources online. One of my personal favorites is “Begin to Set Personal Boundaries”. Check it out.
How about you? Are your personal boundaries clear? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comment section below.
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