During my weekly #ConnectionSession I am positive I have mentioned something about boundaries in almost all of them. In every workbook and journal on my website, boundaries are addressed. Why though? Why do I insist on talking about something that is so obvious to healthy relationships? Because, having boundaries may be a give, but the true detection of your relationship health is around the type of boundaries you have and your understanding of your boundaries.
Before I start getting too wordy, let me just say this; we all like to think that we have healthy boundaries. Unfortunately, this perception is not the relationship reality. So before you skip this article thinking you’re airtight in the boundaries department, keep reading. You will definitely be doing some self-reflection.
Tell Me Your Boundaries
There are generally 3 types of boundaries: rigid, loose/porous, and healthy. For the sake of reflection I’m only going to speak on the unhealthy forms.
Rigid boundaries are boundaries that are designed to keep others at a distance, reduce closeness in order to protect. It’s like a brick wall trying to cross this space, the phrase “why are you so guarded” usually pops up a few times. What makes this type of boundary unhealthy when it’s put in place to protect? Protecting yourself is healthy right? The unhealthy part is ensuring that there is no closeness between you and another. Not allowing someone into an emotional space generally means there is no vulnerability. Connection is created in vulnerability, vulnerability grows with trust, and trust is fostered by healthy boundaries. (You see where I’m going with this?) When you’re closed off like a maximum security center, there is no way possible for people to get close to you, specifically those that you want to be close to.
Here are a few ways to explore if your boundaries are rigid:
1. Do you often feel isolated and misunderstood?
2. Does being alone bring some form of emotional safety more than sharing your space and time with others?
3. What is your view on trusting others? Have you kept your feelings, thoughts, and plans to yourself as a form of protection?
4. Do you show any emotions besides the general socially acceptable happiness and anger?
Loose boundaries are boundaries that can be nonexistent or easily crossed designed to preserve closeness. This type of boundary usually comes from a “nice” person who prides themselves on being a “good (insert relationship role)” to ensure that they have good relationship with the person. They are always present and available for people, while sacrificing something that is important to them, be it time, money, space, and voice for the sake of maintaining the relationship. Some will call this being selfless or a giver. So why is being selfless and a giver in a relationship unhealthy?
It’s unhealthy because you’re sacrificing so much of yourself that you have nothing left to care for you. These actions are generally done to keep the peace in the relationship, to soothe internal fear of loosing the relationship, to close a disconnection gap. All of these are acts of preservation, not acts of mutual connection. If there are connecting results or the good deeds are not received well, then resentment grows. Resentment is a destroyer of connection, it’s a silent harboring of frustration and pain that seeps out in everyday interactions. Resentment comes out in passive aggressive behaviors that slowly tear apart relationships. It’s a vicious cycle to be stuck in.
Here are a few ways to explore if your boundaries are loose:
1. Do you feel like you give so much to others yet there is no one willing to give to you?
2. How do you address conflict? Do you try to avoid conflict at all costs but when the stress becomes to much all of your issues are addressed at once?
3. Do you ever feel guilty saying “no” although you know you have nothing to give, so to relieve the guilt you say “yes”?
4. Do you do “nice” things for people and feel unappreciated, so much so you have to remind them of the things you did and the sacrifices you made to do such nice acts?
How hard has this hit you? If any of these boundary types sound exactly like how you’re living your life schedule your consult today. We can get your boundaries to a space that feels productive and healthy for you.
Look, I’m not here to say if whether or not these boundaries are good or bad, I’m here to point out how the boundaries impact you and your relationships. I know you’re tired of the distrust and loneliness that your boundaries have created and I know they were created this way for good reason. But Love, they aren’t helping you right now in the emotional and relational health departments of your life. So if you want to be in a healthier and happier place let me know.
Remember “Connection Starts With You” so start your healthy relationships journey by exploring and understanding your boundaries. Then make the necessary adjustments where you see fit.
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