Are your boundaries secure or about as porous as a flow-through tea bag?
Boundaries. You know you need them to define yourself.
You know you need them to draw a line in the sand with a #Hijackal, or any person wanting to roll on over you.
You know they can keep you safe.
You may even know they are empowering!
You can know all those things, and still be reluctant to speak up. It's hard for most people to set boundaries. Mainly because, down deep somewhere, they think that "boundaries not nice." Is that what's going on for you? Let's change that!
You might think that drawing lines in the sand with ink shouldn't be necessary, and "why can't we all just get along?" There are no Kumbaya moments with a Hijackal...except those rare ones you long for that are really love-bombing and you end up more hurt than before. Sadly true. Even non-Hijackals with whom you have issues may get angry or be offended when you express a boundary. That's OK. Do it anyway!
You need to know your boundaries, express them, and hold on tight to maintain them! You'll feel clear, empowered, strong, and brave. And, likely a little scared. At least, most folks are a bit scared when they first start expressing boundaries.
"Who am I to tell other people what to do?"
"What if they don't like me?"
"What if they laugh in my face?"
"What if they rage, and things erupt badly?"
Good things to consider. Could be true. But, does someone else's desire to run over you mean that you stand there and get flattened? No, right?
You need to think these things through, and know the answers to these questions for yourself. And, you need to have a plan.
WHY ARE BOUNDARIES A GOOD IDEA?
Clearly, you need to know yourself and what you value in order to set boundaries. Yes, it might start out with something that you don't like and don't ever want to happen again. That's a good reason. But, a better place to start is knowing yourself well. Not making it about someone else is a healthy start.
Another person's poor, damaging, demeaning, or dangerous behaviors may push you to think about boundaries, for sure. You may have to respond with a solid, "NO! That's not alright with me!" in the moment. That's a good start, too.
Boundaries will do two things: keep you safe, and allow you to see who other people really are.
HOW BEST TO START
Yep! You're right! With knowing what's not alright with you!
It's not OK to be put down, torn down, or worn down.
It's not OK to be threatened verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually, or financially.
It's not OK to be ignored.
It's not OK to be cornered, isolated, marginalized, or restrained.
It's not OK to see your children hurt in any way.
It's also not OK to put up with all this stuff!
Start with knowing what's not OK with you. Just think these through alone, inside yourself. You'll find these things by knowing what causes you pain and makes your heart ache.
THEN, you need to know your values and what IS important to you: how you want to be treated, respected, and fairly interacted with. Turning those things into words you can say with clarity is empowering. Sure, you may say them at first with a little trepidation. You'll get much better at this boundary thing when you start practicing, though.
STRENGTHEN YOUR RESOLVE
Are you thinking, "OK, I know what's not alright with me. I know how I want to be seen and treated. But, do I have the right to speak up? "
YES! You do. You need a good way to do that, though.
In my book, Kaizen for Couples: Smart Steps To Save, Sustain and Strengthen Your Relationship, I give you the best formula for knowing how to speak up in the healthiest way. Most folks don't speak up because they fear they will back down, cry, rage, or blow it. Use my formula to feel confident that you won't need to do any of those thing in order to be heard. I call it The Personal Weather Report. You can learn about it HERE in this video.
According yourself the absolute right to take up space and draw breath on this planet is first. Then, use the Personal Weather Report to confidently express yourself. (There are two chapters on it in Kaizen for Couples.)
You may need some help to really feel that you have the right to say what's OK with you and what's not. That's good to recognize because your early life may have caused you to back down or shut down. Get that help. (If you want to talk with me, and we haven't spoken before, use this offer.)
When you've done the internal work to have clarity around who you are, what you value, and how to speak up in empowering ways, speak up. When you use my Personal Weather Report, you're not going to be making anyone wrong, or getting in anyone's face. You're going to talk about what you're an expert on: YOU!
No one can tell you what you think, feel, need, want, remember, or prefer is not true. They can try, and #Hijackals will. No one but you knows what really goes on within you. That's why that internal work is so important: you spend time diving deeply into yourself so that you can express yourself with authority. It's your right...when it's done in the right way.
If you haven't been a boundary-setter before, people are going to be surprised--if not annoyed or enraged--when you do it. Even if you follow my formula, the very fact that you have found a solid place within yourself to speak from with clarity may set them on their heels.
"What? You have an opinion? You're telling me what you want? Uh-uh, that's not how this relationship works. "
That might go on in others when you speak up. Keep speaking up. It's your right. Remember that. You are the expert on you. You have the right to express that without treading on others. BUT, some people feel tread up when you're nowhere near them, and they'll say "Ouch!" even when you didn't touch them. That happens. Speak up, anyway. Notice: that's about who they are, not about your right to express your boundaries.
Boundaries show where you end and other people begin: where others may tread and where they may not in your life. Knowing and expressing them clearly helps you to feel more comfortable and safe with others. You can also clearly see who is willing to respect your boundaries and who is determined to trespass. Then, you'll know who to hang with, and who to walk away from.
Well, no, it's not just that simple, but it's a very healthy start!
Boundaries are good for two things: keeping you safe and allowing you to see who other people really are. Get on with the good! Establish and express some boundaries!