Setting boundaries was one of the concept that I had to learn recently. Prior to this, it did not occurred to me about the boundaries. I been told to be a ‘good girl’ and help others. I collected evidences of positive feedback I have received when I’ve being useful to others, pleasing others, rescuing others, and nice to others. My purpose of life and self-worth were based on external values and needing of help before my own.
It was very fearful when I think about people don’t need me anymore. I felt I exist in the world because there are someone still need me. What happens if not? If no one need me anymore what happens to me? What’s my life going to be? What’s my purpose of living? Will I still have people around me when I don’t help them? Why they all need a piece of me? Why when I need them no one was around me?
Growing out of this, I have noticed that many times I felt this is not working. I mean, I felt unfair. I become so useful to others, generous with others, giving to others but when I ask for something majority of them turn their back and said ‘Sorry I am busy’ or ‘Sorry I can’t help’. It seems unfair because they have right to put themselves before me. Why do I have to live in such pain of restrictions when they don’t?
In psychology, personal boundaries are defined as the limits you’ve set with others about acceptability of their behaviour towards you. It needs a healthy sense of self-worth, in other words, self valuing based on your inner value in who you are. It is a self respect to your own being. It is your right to be treated ethically. These are all components of dignity of life.
I am entitled to have a thoughts and opinions.
I am entitled to have and own my feelings.
I am entitled to have a personal space.
I am entitled to have friends and participate in social activities.
I am entitled to my own spiritual beliefs.
Realising these entitlements, I was thrilled but confused because I didn’t know how to approach these. I didn’t have such freedom. I had to ask a question ‘REALLY? AM I ENTITLED TO ALL THESE?’
If above are all my entitlements, what am I going to do to protect all that? It is now my choice. I started from drawing a line between myself and others. I started to ask questions like:
Is that what you really want to do?
Is that your problem?
Is that your responsibility to meet their needs?
If you don’t help, is that dead or alive situation?
Is this person who you are helping essential in your life?
I had to learn how to set up a boundary. It was challenging to have a personal space and an appropriate distance with others. It was challenging to set up boundaries to protect my own wellbeing.
I have learnt to know my own limits.
How much can I do?
How far can I go?
Is that costing me?
Is that risking my wellbeing?
Is that person too close?
Is that person crossing my boundaries?
Is that person crossing over without my permission?
Is my decision protecting me?
Am I pleasing again?
I start to notice my feelings when I slip back to my old habit of pleasing and passive when I allowed people to interfere my boundaries without my permission. I was frustrated, uncomfortable, and very angry at myself when I allowed that to happen. I started to notice how people around me manipulate me to do what they wanted me to do. With anger energy, I become assertive to protect myself for my own wellbeing. I had to be courageous to say no, to voice my feelings.
I had to practice setting my boundaries. More than that, I had to learn to maintain my boundaries, keep holding them up. Because I been there, although I will get frustrated and angry, I am very familiar with feeling when people didn’t respect my boundaries. Then, I had to review my boundaries again and to keep holding them up.
Interestingly, setting up boundaries are related to self-care. Looking after myself. It is my choice in each moment. So, I have choose to care for my wellbeing.