Boundaries are not just a struggle for survivors but for many in society. However, as survivors we tend to want tighter boundaries than most, yet we struggle even more with how to form them appropriately.
I thought I would share a little bit about what I have learned in setting boundaries. Keep in mind, this is from a years upon years of working on it as well as numerous counseling sessions discussing it. I also recommend the book by Henry Cloud called: “Boundaries”.
I recently encountered the need for strict boundaries as I’ve been setting up my business. When I was a teacher in the classroom it was assumed that I provide as much time as needed when a parent wanted to talk. I learned being in the classroom and working basically 24/7 all year long, even the weeks I wasn’t paid, burnt me out.
However, in setting up my own business I know I need a private life and I want to keep that separate from work. I set up a separate email, phone number with voicemail, and I will not interact with clients over social media.
However, despite being proactive with these things, as they have been coming to my house, I have found that some people have no boundaries.
I had one adult guardian of a client come in and go around me into my kitchen – sit at my kitchen table and then go to my counter and plug in an electronic device. All without asking. This was after I redirected her to the living room area. Now, I am making signs and coming up with a way to mark off parts of my downstairs as clients and their guardians come in and wait.
That is a professional boundary as well as personal one. Other personal boundaries are not jumping to please everyone. I have learned I will never ever please everyone, and I do try my best to get along. However, I don’t have to answer the phone or text that just came in if I am not able to do so. It can wait a bit. After all, it waited before we had cell phones.
I put my phone on do not disturb at night to set boundaries with people who feel the need to text and call at all hours of the night and early morning without respect for the sleep I need to stay healthy. That is a boundary.
There are also physical boundaries I set with people. You know when someone gets too close to you and it’s uncomfortable, so you place an object between you or back up? Or when someone starts to hug you but hasn’t asked and you step back and say you would prefer they didn’t. (Especially if it’s a guy.)
If, big if, I ever date again I will set boundaries up front that I will not be alone with the guy until we have spent a significant amount of time getting to know each other.
Setting boundaries not only eases the significant anxiety that can arise, but it helps you stay healthy and take care of yourself. I used to think I had to please everyone and put myself last, but that is not actually healthy or true. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to do things that will help you be the better you God created you to be.
What do you need to do to set boundaries today? Who do you need to say no to in a polite way, or how do you need to set up realistic boundaries, so you feel safe? Ask God to help you and show you how He wants to help you set boundaries.
You can do this! I know you can! It’s a struggle for all adults, and everyone is learning throughout this life. Stay strong and depend on God’s strength to get you through!
© 2021 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.