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Working Your Boundaries

Sadly these extremes characterize many relationships, from intimate partnerships to family bonding and work contracts. Establishing a true center for our personal boundaries is not an education that most of us get growing up; rather we are hardwired with our invisible boundary rulebook instilled in us as our sense of self worth and esteem. It has taken me half my life to realize that I am a better friend, mother and partner to others when I am a friend to myself first. Drawing the line in relationships that are dysfunctional and unhealthy is the only positive response you can generate.

The weakest link for most of us in setting boundaries is that we never learned that setting a boundary is equivalent to letting go of the outcome in a given situation. In fact, this is the key distinguishing feature between healthy boundaries and manipulative relationships. True boundaries, once set, release the outcome. It is a true letting go of what is not ours.  Often the way that I have done them with my children is when my boundaries are perceived as threats. Not letting go, trying to control the outcome is a form of manipulation that often gets confused as boundary setting in many relationships.

Another signal to rethink your boundaries is when you are unable to keep your commitments without constant resentment. I realized that as much as I do for others in the name of love, often the takeaway for those I am trying to love feels more like obligation. I don’t want to love begrudgingly, I don’t want the experience of my love to feel half-hearted; I want my efforts to show up to be authentic. Yet with so many constant and continuous demands, fatigue and overwhelm can often get the better of the love, and before I know it I am resentfully following through. Doing what I promised without the love. This is another classic boundary issue that ends up confusing everyone involved.

Giving up the self-sabotage, over-commitment and co-dependency that my porous boundaries have long fostered is new path that requires daily attention and vigilance. The work of setting and keeping healthy boundaries is bound to the action verb of self-forgiveness. Learning to sense and articulate my own needs and choosing where and when to share them might well be the single biggest life change I can commit to

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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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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Interesting. Thank you for caring and sharing.


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