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