When we prioritize other people’s wellbeing above our own, we teach them how to treat others. According to Brené Brown, author and researcher on shame and vulnerability, a boundary is simply “what’s okay and what’s not okay” when it comes to the way we allow ourselves to be treated.
When we fear that if we disagree with another person, we may lose our safety within that relationship (they’ll be mad at us, disown us, say hurtful things), we teach them that we’ll always agree, that we’re always available for them and that we’re always there to rescue them.
Simple Example: If you’re someone who values punctuality and your friend arrives late every time you meet up, when they say, “Sorry! Traffic!” and you reply “It’s okay” when really it's not, you are not respecting the fact that punctuality is important to you. If you don’t respect your own time, neither will your friend. You could create a boundary by saying to your friend, “I want to share with you that I really value my time and who I spend it with very much. Can we both agree to arrive on time in the future so that we can enjoy even more time together?”
When you set a new boundary, people may not always understand why you’re acting differently. It may trigger emotions within them that they haven’t had to face as long as you have been there to save them from feeling these emotions. Creating boundaries is not always a comfortable process, but it’s is a worthwhile one.
Here are three reasons why boundaries are important:
1. Boundaries ESTABLISH How We Desire to Be Treated: Who better to teach others how to treat you than YOU? Boundaries are a tool to exercise on the outside how you feel about yourself on the inside. When you come from a place of respect and love of yourself, this also demands that same respect and love from those around you.
2. Boundaries ENFORCE How We Desire to Be Treated: Boundaries are boundaries for a reason. If you don’t enforce them, who else will? Having people around you who also value self-respect and self-love allows you to be supported in times when you feel a bit wobbly emotionally. By giving yourself this level of genuine support, you start to see the contrast between what you were willing to tolerate before and the standard of treatment you now require.
3. Self-LOVE in Action: When you can stand tall in your own self-worth, you’ll never settle for less because it doesn’t serve you to do so any more. If you don’t need to be proven right about how unworthy you are, other people’s opinions lose power over you because you already know your worth. Creating a healthy boundary is probably always the most loving act you can perform for everyone involved, even if that’s difficult to see at first.
Boundaries are never about the other person, they’re always about you. It’s about how you value yourself, love yourself and about owning the way you deserve to be treated.
Follow Krystal on Twitter at @Krystal_Brandt
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