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3 Truths About Personal Boundaries I Wish I’d Known 10 Years Ago

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Y O U R   P E R S O N A L   S P A C E

“Do not tolerate disrespect, not even from yourself.”  ~Unknown

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boundaries

I gotta be honest with you – when it comes time to put a foot down or set a personal, professional, or any other boundary, it sometimes requires a sit-down meeting with yourSELF.  

In a sense, just like a business meeting or a brunch with a friend or family member to work out your differences.

It’s about purposefully scheduling yourself to “meet up” and collaborate on what is needed for you to move forward and stop being looked over, tossed out, and abused or disrespected.

And maybe, for you, it’s actually doing this in a physical sense, not just a metaphoric.  It’s going to your favorite cafe or little restaurant, sitting down “for one” and really evaluating those areas you know you’re not honoring your own personal energy, values, or what you know you need to be your best (maybe writing them in a journal).

However you’re gonna go about doing this – it’s time to do it.

Before you do though, I want to share 3 truths about this process I wish I’d known 10 years ago.

Some things in life come to us quickly – others simply come with age & experience.  For me, understanding myself enough to set boundaries for myself was one that has taken quite a bit of time & experience to cultivate.

And while I’ve always had a unique strength in leadership and assertiveness as an introvert, I didn’t always understand the connection between that and personal boundary-setting.

Assertive living is very much about honoring your time, your space, and your energy.  As an introvert, it is even more important.

As an HSP (a highly sensitive person), it becomes 3x as important (if you also fall into that category), because your nervous system literally depends on it.  Your neuropathways are naturally more sensitive than the next person, so guarding yourself against constant energy zapping becomes optimal for peace and freedom in your life.

I am both, and I speak from experience.

I will tell you though, that when you get ready to shake things up in your life or work, to create the outcome you imagine, you should know some things and prepare for those things accordingly.

Had I known this in my 20’s, I would have made very different choices that could’ve prevented so many things.  But today isn’t about reminiscing – it’s about making different decisions and choices that will affect the future and the present.

One truth you need to be aware of when you get ready to set a personal boundary is that conflict is inevitable and WILL show up. (Truth #1)

Honoring your own boundaries shouldn’t be about control, it should be about freedom. A desire to feel free in your relationships and your creative process…And often, that honoring is met with a bag full of conflicts.  

And that conflict is going to rise up in one of two areas or both:

1.  With the self

2.  With others

Conflict With Self

This is the turmoil you might feel within when you want to draw a line in the sand about something that matters to you.  And it comes packaged in a few thoughts:

  • Thoughts that you’re a bitch and no one likes you
  • Thoughts that you are too harsh for healthy relationships
  • Thoughts that you’re just “trying to be like someone else.”
  • Thoughts that “this isn’t who you really are.”
  • Thoughts that “you should be ashamed.”
  • Thoughts that they won’t like you anymore
  • Thoughts that you can never change – you’re just a passive introvert and that’s it
  • Thoughts that you might as well give up trying to learn assertive communication – it’s an “extroverted trait.”

Just a comfortable PSA (public service announcement) – none of these thoughts are a) valid, b) true, or c) healthy.  

Conflict with the Self decreases as confidence with the Self rises. There’s less to argue about.

Learning all about your unique advantages, assets, and effect on the world around you is the answer to completely freeing your voice, decreasing these types of thoughts (notice I said decreasing, not voiding, which isn’t realistic), and stepping more into a comfortable, authentic-to-you, assertive skin.

You likely recognize these thoughts when you don’t want to answer the phone, you don’t want someone to stay at your place for 5 days without even asking you first, when you don’t want to go the party, and when you know you need increased “me” time.

And just like working out builds muscle mass, working “out” these thoughts each time you engage in assertiveness with yourself, you create a mass of confidence that is both healthy and necessary.  But just like in working out, consistency is key for results.

Next time you have one of those thoughts above (or others), I want you to recognize it for what it is – conflict with the self.  And let me say something here that’s really profound…

We don’t conflict over things that have no value.  Where there is conflict, there is love.  Period.

Let me repeat that – we don’t conflict over things that have no value.  

You can bet if you’re conflicted over standing up for something, it is likely something that’s needed to happen for some time, and would honor your self.

Conflict With Others

Sometimes, honoring yourself & your time is going to really bother someone else – this is just part of it.

One thing I want you to begin to understand is that you absolutely cannot control the emotional maturity of another human being. 

This leads me to my second truth I wish I would’ve known years ago:

There are several types of people you will encounter when it’s time to set personal boundaries. (Truth #2)

The Master Manipulator

This is a person who will try and use their status, relationship to you, or their words to get you to do what they want you to do or to continue doing it the way they want you to do it, when they want you to do it, and how.  Essentially, manipulating you into behavior that suits them.

If you’re anything like me, I can smell manipulation a mile away – I know when someone is trying to manipulate me into getting what they want out of me, and it’s typically very obvious.  You’ve gotta use your intuition, and be forthright about your boundaries with these types – they won’t let up easy, so it’s your job to guard your energy and be stern about what you need.

The “You’re a Weirdo” Police

This is a person who feels they’ve been given a right to label you because you’re not like them.  They often are people who think their lives are “normal” and anyone who doesn’t do what they want isn’t.  So wanting alone time, being forward about not being disrespected, or not wanting to gather at their constant soiree’s somehow makes you a “weirdo” in their books.  You’re labeled “weird” because you don’t share their desires or are going against their grain.

With these types, it’s all about education.  Educating them on why you need certain things and what the outcome is for you. Now trust me – I know this, in and of itself, can be draining.  I’m talking about educating people whose relationship really matters to you, not everyone.  Sometimes we have to teach others how to love us – we can’t expect it to happen overnight.  If you’ve tried this countless times & it’s not working, really evaluate that relationship.

The Resentful Resident

Oh boy.  These types of people are difficult to come across when setting personal boundaries.  They will resent you for saying “no” to them and hold it against you forever for not doing what they wanted one time.  They will literally “live” or take residence with resentfulness.

Don’t allow this kind of person to make you feel guilty.  Approach them with love & compassion, attempt to understand their feelings, but don’t take up residence with them in this bad energy space.  If they can’t get past you honoring yourself, that’s not a place your energy is respected and welcomed.

The Insecure Ill-At-Ease

This type is really hard to say no to.  It’s the person who “can’t go to the wedding without you.”  Or they “need” you.  I’m using these in quotes because they scream insecurity.  Honestly, this person could possibly be a combination of all of the above – in order to soothe their own insecurities about the relationship or who they are as a person, they may use manipulation, resentment, and calling you “weird” to calm their own selves.

It’s okay, by the way, to notice this and have compassion on their insecurity (because we all have them), but it’s not okay to succumb to their whims every time, just so they can be comfortable and “feel okay.”  What about your comfort?

As an introvert, one of the beautiful things about you is your mystique.  Many people want to understand you and/or get in that head of yours, but not being able to penetrate your thoughts can make these types nervous and cling to trying to make you feel less-than.  

I’ve seen this in corporate America too many times (mostly with women unfortunately).  It’s the person who isn’t confident in their own work, so they are constantly trying to compete with you, find out what you’re up to, and create scenarios that will clearly make you feel left out (usually in a subtle, manipulative manner like slipping in that they had dinner with a few people from work so you clearly know you weren’t invited – seemingly ‘unrelated’ but extremely manipulative nonetheless).

[Insert education point: Trying to make an introvert feel left out usually doesn’t work.  They’re probably glad and thankful they weren’t invited to your shin-dig.  They will probably breathe easier knowing they didn’t have to participate.  This isn’t a smart tactic that causes any kind of discomfort].

It SCREAMS insecurity.  It’s somewhat sad to watch.  The introverted woman doesn’t look for or need external validation in the same way these types do (and that’s not to say we don’t have insecurities).  It just means our insecurities usually don’t lie in exposing others for our gain, or manipulating to get ahead.  We don’t need to because we know our power lies in the complexity of our mystique. We can almost harness it effortlessly by simply being who we are and showing up authentically.  

The Mature Maven

The mature maven is who you want to connect to.  And she just happens to be my favorite.  

This reminds me of my good friend Jessica and one of my newest friends, Amanda when I hear this term.

She’s a confident woman who doesn’t need a ton of validation or praise – only from the people who are closest to her.  This person won’t ever make you feel guilty for standing up for your values, even if she doesn’t understand them or live them herself.

(Maybe it’s not a woman you think of when I say ‘maven’).  This is a person who highly values & respects you as an individual. They “get” you, if you will – and they’re darn good at it.  There’s not a ton of explanation needed because they truly have a relationship with you – they know what you like and what your general dispositions are. They know they can’t pressure you to be interested in something you’re not.

When you say you really don’t want to go, they might be momentarily disappointed, then they’re over it because they value you. They also know how to be in the present moment, so it’s probably cool with them to do a million other things in that moment if that’s what the options are looking like.

The mature maven makes a great friend, spouse, and acquaintance to spend time with because it’s someone who won’t pressure you to be someone you’re not.  

The mature maven has insecurities, but they don’t need to put them off on you when you want to set a personal boundary.  This is key!  This person has no need to involve you on an unhealthy level in working out her own insecurities.  They might want to share them with you, but they can handle you valuing yourself and asking and getting what you want in life because they’re doing the same thing.

No manipulation needed!  No resentment requested!

Final truth – and I hope you’re ready for this one…

To feel your most free, creative, and inspired, you MUST take full responsibility for your own personal boundaries. (Truth #3)

Remember at the beginning of the post when I mentioned conflicts and talked with you about 2 areas you can expect it to show up?

Check out this quote by Carl Jung…

[quote author=”Carl Jung”]The artist’s life cannot be otherwise than full of conflicts, for two forces are at war within him [or her]—on the one hand, the common human longing for happiness, satisfaction and security in life, and on the other a ruthless passion for creation which may go so far as to override every personal desire … There are hardly any exceptions to the rule that a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of creative fire.”[/quote]

This is a paradox – and a gorgeous one, at that.

You and I must establish all the boundaries we need to because that’s where true freedom comes from.

Oh, trust me – I know what you’ve heard.  I know what other bloggers have said on the topic.  But right now today, I’m telling you, standing shoulder to shoulder and looking into your heart, that this is your gateway to your enhanced creativity as an introvert. I am qualified to say it because I’ve lived both – bondage from just ‘going along’ with every little thing others wanted me to do – and freedom, from honoring what I know is true for me.  

You cannot keep being whimsical about what you believe, what you value, what you want, or what you need.  Doing so is inhibiting your greatest creative flow and freedom.  

No one else is going to do this for you – it’s all up to you.  And I know right now it feels like too big of a responsibility, but let me ask you a profound question:

How would you behave if your life’s freedom in its totality was 100% totally & completely dependent on YOU?

What if you had no crutches to lean on?  How differently would you approach your work responsibilities, your boss, or your co-workers?  How different would your responses be with regard to people who attempt to manipulate you?  Would you stand up for yourself a little more often?

I think the answers (and your behavior) already exist.  I just want you to step into them (and so does everyone else).

You might think that everyone around you wants you to continue to give in to their whims, invitations, manipulations, etc., but perhaps since you’re 100% in charge of your life’s freedom level, honoring your personal boundaries would be a welcomed change.

Have you ever considered that as an alternative?

If you feel inclined to share, I’d love to know…

1.  Have you had one of the experiences I mentioned in your own life?  Which one?

2.  Which ‘type’ that I named, here to steal your personal boundary-setting away, can you identify with most or have you experienced yourself?

3.  What piece of advice or information that I shared with you today can you use THIS WEEK to rustle up some good, healthy conflict?

I sincerely mean it when I say it – I’m grateful you’re here & you read this.

Here’s to the more assertive, boundary-honoring you for the week.  Talk with you soon,

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Comments(2)

  • Ruth
    July 31, 2016, 2:46 am  Reply

    I really loved this article. Thank you so much! I had to practice personal boundaries since they were never taught to me and, being very sensitive and empathetic, would experience the case of having ‘too many friends’ that I did not necessarily want in my life, that I felt obliged to give my time and energy to. They weren’t true friends as many of the connections were one-sided in that I was not benefiting from them. When I started knowing myself better and putting boundaries in place I needed to let friendships go and I also wasn’t as interested in allowing ‘polite conversations’ to linger and drain my energy. I encountered all of the tactics you mentioned for setting boundaries, but felt a surge of energy each time I made a positive choice towards the life I want and utilising my time and space the way I wanted. Now I can nurture the connections I want and feel less guilty for putting boundaries in place with people who, it is clear because I’m very attuned, want to impose upon me. Recently I needed to use boundaries on a neighbour who I sensed was invasive because he was straight away, upon meeting, invading my personal space, trying to look at my art, and also offloading his problems. Now he is always angry and scowling at me when I would like things to just be pleasant ie. say hello, how is your day but not have to have long conversations when I don’t feel to. All I said was that I was busy and did not expand the conversation to set my boundary and his anger made me question myself but this article helps me to remember that I am allowed to make a boundary to honour myself and my space and his response is his own experience. I was never hostile, I just followed my intuition and did not want to engage.

    • July 31, 2016, 2:09 pm

      Ruth – this is really beautiful and really helpful to understand what happens during the boundary-setting process. Thank you for sharing your stories with us here.

      Hugs,
      Tamisha

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