Do people treat you poorly? Do you feel put-down, ignored, and walked over and taken advantage of?
You need boundaries, strong, clear, expressed, and maintained boundaries. You need to believe you have the right to take up space and draw breath on this earth, and teach people how to treat you. Are you ready for that?
I know, you don't want to think that you've allowing people to treat you badly. But, if they're doing it, you're letting them.
It's time to change that. It's time to get up on your back legs and say "NO!" and "NO MORE!" Time to have boundaries!
You may need help to:
- clarify your boundaries
- express your boundaries
- maintain your boundaries
It may be all new to you. You may just be recognizing that you have the right to your thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, and opinions. You really do. Once you recognize that, you need new ideas for speaking up. They're here.
If you were raised by a Hijackal®, a relentlessly difficult person, you've been trampled on so frequently that you learned to just lie there. NO MORE!
It's time to get up, speak up, step up, and say "NO MORE!"
Expressing boundaries. Setting boundaries. Maintaining boundaries. All are required. It's a big task, in the beginning. No one expects you to say no, right? They expect you to go along with things, especially things they want. They don't often care what you want because you've never spoken up. Now's the time.
WHAT ARE BOUNDARIES? They are not walls. They are more like doors that are currently closed. They may be opened later, or may not.
They are clear statements that let someone know "I am not you." Of, "This is OK with me, and this is not." "This is where I start and you stop."
Your emotional health is directly related to your ability--and willingness--to manage your boundaries. Are you doing that?
If not, you'll be complaining about what people do to you, say to you, and expect from you. You'll feel oppressed, repressed, and depressed after a while.
You use the word, violated, to describe a sexual assault. That's accurate. But, you are constantly being violated if you don't teach people how to treat you. And, you're 100% responsible for doing that!
The good news: you can do something about it. In fact, you're the only one who can! Here's how:
Sometimes, you are violated by someone coming into your personal space too soon.
It may be that they get up to close and personal and you feel uncomfortably unsafe. You move back. They move forward. You speak up: "I'm more comfortable being further from you. Let's stay at this distance." That's an expression of a boundary. That's not so difficult, right? You can do it.
Other times, a new person steps into your emotional space prematurely. They might ask a question you don't feel it is their right to ask, and you do not want to answer. You may feel flustered, and somehow obligated to answer. You are not:
"That's not something I'm willing to talk about with you just now. What is your reason for asking?"
Put it back on the other person. That's your right. Hopefully, that person will have the sense to realize that they went too far. If they don't, they will either persist and ask again, or make you wrong for not answering. You've had that situation, likely. Say,
"That's personal, and I don't feel comfortable talking about that with you."
Did you know that you are under no obligation to answer a question unless you're in court? For you, it might be a big step to realize that. Just because someone wants to know something doesn't mean you have to tell them!
Too often in this world, people will try to touch in you too soon in ways that might make you uncomfortable. There's the whole thing about even meeting a new person: To hug or not? Yes, it's a thing! If you're uncomfortable with hugging new people, just be sure to extend your hand first. That will make it clear as they approach you.
Maybe, you find the timing of the touching inappropriate. Some people step right into your personal physical space and get too close. This is a boundary violation, big time. Most who do this are attempting to overpower you in some way. They touch your shoulder or arm, and you hardly know them. Instead of yelling:
"Back off, Buckwheat!" (although sometimes that's the only thing they will finally hear), start with:
"I feel uncomfortable with the touching. Please stop." Being clear and direct is important. The person may not realize what they are doing because it is perfectly natural for them. They feel they are letting you into their space. Be kind. Most people are not predators.
Here's the BIG, REAL DEAL: You don't owe them an explanation of why you want them to stop.
You have the right to say "No." It's a complete sentence. Of course, if you've been in a romantic relationship with someone, they do have the expectation of touching. Speak gently and assertively about your boundaries and the timing. NO MATTER WHAT - YOU ARE ENTITLED TO GIVE (OR NOT GIVE) YOUR CONSENT.
If you are new to expressing and maintaining boundaries, you might feel like you have to explain why you haven't said anything before, or why you've allowed the behaviors to persist. You don't. You simply state the boundary, and watch to see if it is respected. If not, you'll have to state the boundaries again, and add a consequence.
Of course, if you are uncomfortable with physical intimacy in the context of a romantic relationship, this will also work.
However, if you actually have a problem allowing people into your life--even people you know, like, and respect--and shrink from their touch, you need to think about getting help to resolve some old issues. If you've been abused in any way, you may be leary of people, and slow to trust. You may want to explain that to a partner you know you want to keep in your life, and are just getting to know.
If you put up walls instead of boundaries, that's a problem only you can take care of by getting help to resolve it. Too much distance can be harmful, too, to your and to your relationships.
Boundaries take a whole lot of practice. Physical, emotional, spatial, spiritual, and sexual boundaries must be in place. If someone makes you uncomfortable, it's likely that they are over-stepping boundaries you didn't even know you needed.
Think about it. Figure out why it bothers you, and say something. You have that right.
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD. When you're ready to say "No more!" to toxic relationships, unnecessary drama, and poor examples for your children to follow, work with Dr. Shaler directly now. Subscribe to her Tips for Relationships. Listen to her podcasts for valuable insights and strategies to reclaim yourself, and create healthy relationships with yourself and others: Emotional Savvy: The Relationship Help Show, and Save Your Sanity: Help for Handling Hijackals®.