healthy boundaries

Healthy boundaries are essential to navigate your way through life.  Yet why do so many people struggle with them?  Do you even understand what healthy boundaries are or how to get them? 

Signs and symptoms that you are lacking healthy boundaries include feeling bad about saying no or voicing your opinion.  Another sign is feeling that you are entitled to push yourself onto others, insisting they do what you want.  Boundaries go both ways; they are about holding your own space while respecting the space of others.

How we Learn Boundaries in our Upbringing

Whether you have them or not depends largely on your upbringing.  Either you were taught to have them or you were not.  Your boundaries were something you subconsciously learnt as you grew up. Essentially, they were programmed into you.

It comes from the messages your parents sent you regarding your personal autonomy.  Were you taught to say no?  To be a people pleaser?  Were you taught to incur into others spaces and take what you want?

If you are a parent, it is essential for your child’s future happiness to make sure your child is raised with appropriate boundaries.  Avoid damaging your child’s boundaries with over-disciplining.  Of course an obedient child is easier to deal with, but questioning things is a sign of intellgence.

We all want are children to be kind, but excessivley encourgaging your child to give creates unhealthy boundaries for later in life.  In the same way, if you encourage your child to allow touch that she does not feel comfortable about, you encourage her to become an adult who does not feel confident to challenge incursion into her personal territory.

healthy boundaries

Learn how to have healthy boundaries

The Gender Gap

It is well documented that boys and girls grow up with different messages.  Although this is changing, it is important to recognise the effects of the socialisation you had.  Little girls are encouraged to be people pleasers in the hope that they will become a good wife.  Boys on the other hand are taught to assert themselves to prepare for a work environment.

A significant amount of adult women do not know how to assert their boundaries.  This is the major reason why women are lagging behind men in terms of career.  It is also a reason behind high rates of sexual problems in females; because women simply aren’t asking for what they want in the bedroom.

Why Women Don’t Assert Themselves

Women are taught to self-denigrate, to alway put others first, to feel guilty simply for being.  Many of my female clients tell me they feel guilty simply for asking for what they want.  This extends into intimate settings where women report being afraid to hurt their partner by telling him they don’t like something he is doing in bed.

On the other hand, men are taught to assert themselves.  This is necessary of course to make it in business, which is what is expected of men.  An interesting phenomenon I have noticed is that when a woman says no to things, there are many men who will need to argue.  I have noticed this is many settings and believe it’s related to subconscious beliefs that women are there to please men while men work.

It is no wonder that date rape is such a big issue.  Do you struggle to believe that so many men will push boundaries, while at the same time feel perplexed about why women are acquiescing?  Yet it’s all in the clues you see around you in social settings.  It’s in the workplace, recreational spaces and in the home.

Repressed Anger and Healthy Boundaries

Does the thought of being angry make you cringe?  Are you afraid to raise your voice?  Of course I am not telling you to fly into a rage, but holding and accepting your feelings is essential to holding healthy boundaries.

I went from having absolutely no boundaries to fairly healthy ones overnight when I realised I needed to embrace my anger.  This happened after I was almost date-raped by someone.  Like so many other women, I was afraid to reject his advances.  Eventually I escaped the house, saying nothing.

The next day I was furious about what happened.  Furious at him and myself.  Angry at myself for not saying anything as much as I was angry at him.  I realised that I needed to do something; that going through life expecting others to look out for my interests was not getting me anywhere.

From this moment I decided that when I felt the first inkling of anger, I would state my case.  The minute my body was saying no, I would back myself up.  Enough of feeling guilty and going along with others.  I realised that my life was mine to shape.

Lacking Healthy Boundaries is an Invite for Abuse

Do you find that you struggle to say no when someone asks to borrow money?  Are you afraid to hurt someone if you say what you want?  Are you afraid that having a different opinion will lead to you being ostracised?

These feelings are common if you were not taught as a child to hold your boundaries.  Finding yourself being overtaken by guilt everytime that you want something is no way to live your life, yet this is something so many people experience.

Guilt is a barrier that shades and muddies everything we do.  There is a difference between actively hurting another and saying what we want.  It is fair for you to expect others to be robust enough to respect your wishes.  If someone does not respect what you want, this is a red-flag of an abuser.

Developing Healthy Boundaries as an Adult

It is essential for your health and happiness that you have boundaries.  Be aware that the guilt that you feel for saying what you want is programming.  You may find it helpful to observe others who have no problem is saying what they want.  This is something you are entitled to do too.

If you are stuck in a cycle of guilt about saying what you want, you will struggle to move forward in life.  This will effect your self-esteem but also it is about your self-esteem.  To value yourself, you must value and assert your experience.  If you find that you are being criticised for doing this, it shows you are moving somewhere.

If you have grown up feeling guilty about what you want, it is normal that you will cringe at the thought of speaking out.  However, as an adult now, it is essential that you do so. Breaking through the barrier is tough at first, but the results are more than worth it.

The more you do it, the better you get at it, and you will develop your own style.  Sure, you will have set-backs, people will question you.  But look at it as a game.  These people aren’t really hurt it’s just their ego responding.  They don’t even know what they are doing, they are behaving according to their programming.

Living unconsciously; but you have chosen to be conscious.  You have chosen to shape your destiny.  Your destiny is yours.

Enjoy it.


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