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Working Your Boundaries

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Working Your Boundaries

Whatever you are willing to put up with, is exactly what you will have.

It is never too late to learn about your boundaries. I am coming to believe that it is perhaps one of the aspects of living that most defines our maturity and facility for accomplishing our goals. Boundary issues are common to most of us; in fact, our personal boundaries are the basic, yet often invisible rulebook that guides all of our relationships. Our boundaries define how and what we communicate, what we give and receive, and even, in the most basic sense, provide the parameters for what we expect from others and life itself.

Boundaries reflect how we love ourselves and what we value most deeply. They impact our capacity at work, with authority, with our money and our sexuality. Knowing when we want to say yes, when we want to say no, what feels like self-respect and where our own needs start and end are the foundations that build the sense of boundaries that control our lives. Mine have long been porous, which is a generous way of admitting that my lines between myself and others, in family and even more so at work, have been fuzzy.

An old friend once told me that our boundaries are the truest measure of how we love ourselves. I thought I understood the meaning at the time. Raising four children should have bestowed on me a mastery of setting limits and protecting my personal space over the last two decades. It hasn’t. I am not alone in my struggle for healthy boundaries. Learning to define our boundaries is challenging for many people because they are fluid and change with our sense of ourselves.

In order to not deal with the changing nature of creating a true relationship between our selves and the people we love, people often over commit to rigid boundaries or under commit to any boundaries at all. This explains why many relationships swing between the “doormat and bulldozer” syndromes. On the one hand, we are accommodating to a fault, ever flexible and “nice,” which both makes us the self sacrificing loser in most conflicts and the self righteous victim. On the other hand, the bulldozer is ever conscious of his needs, but frequently unaware of the needs of others. Characterized by a strong sense of entitlement, this rigid boundary style tends to win at conflicts but loses respect and intimacy in their relationships, often without recognizing what they are giving up.

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


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11:53PM PDT on May 1, 2013

Thank you. This rang a lot of bells for me!

3:31AM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

Thank you :)

8:07AM PDT on Mar 20, 2013


12:22PM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

This is important!
Give us more wise words about boundaries!

How can I know when a man express his boundaries and when he tries to dominate me?

1:21PM PDT on May 13, 2012

Thank you Wendy, good point made.

10:34PM PDT on Apr 1, 2012

good article.

9:14PM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Nice comments on this article.

1:48AM PDT on Apr 19, 2011

when u'r being too nice , instead of people showing appreciation they try to exploit ur kindness as much as they can , when u try to set up boundaries , they see it as being mean and heartless and try to make u feel guilty .. im dealing with lots of selfish people around me ,and it's all my fault for being too nice with them ..

11:01AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

Thanks for sharing.

9:56PM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

Excellent article. Food for thought as I, too, am guilty of very porous boundaries. Hmmmmm...... (& Thanks)

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