A few years ago, when I would hear that word, I used to cringe. The idea of having boundaries made me sick to my stomach. I was not good at setting, giving, or explaining my boundaries to other people. When I heard the word "boundaries", I, in my brain, imagined a fence, literally and figuratively fencing me in. Boundaries, in my opinion, meant that I had to a "brat" or that I was being selfish.
I have explained my love for Brene Brown on this blog many times. I have read her novel The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong numerous times. Brene is a researcher who studies the idea of vulnerability. That idea then transformed into boundaries, confidence, and relying on oneself to be successful in this life. I am so fascinated with her research and this idea of boundaries and vulnerability as well. I think the reason why I am so entranced with it is because those are both things that are extremely prevalent in my life.
My friend sent me this quote that she wrote awhile back about boundaries and relationships: "I hope you understand that when I'm trying to be your friend I'm sharing your pain by choice because we are all here together so no one should hurt alone. I will defend you, uplift you, be a helping hand, motivate, appreciate and validate your existence. I will nurture you. I will, also, despite hardship, appeal any wrongdoings unto you. That is my vow, those are my words. This is my promise to you as the most sincerest of love and devotion to a person."
I believe that a good friend is one who helps someone else see their potential and his or her BEST SELF. If you truly love someone, I believe that it is imperative that you are forming a relationship where you are uplifting them and not consistently tearing them down. I have quite a few people in my life whom, it seems, subconsciously tear me down. I don' even think that these people are even aware that they make me feel self conscious or uncomfortable and not completely myself. And, ultimately, that's not their fault. It is my choice how I feel. Ultimately, I determine how I feel about myself, regardless of the actions or comments or thoughts from others. With that being said, setting boundaries will always come into play in any relationship: platonic or romantic. If a relationship is no longer for you, it is okay to walk away. It is okay to say, "This relationship is not fulfilling me in the way that is healthy."
However, you cannot, obviously, walk away from every relationship that hurts you. That is part of being human and part of growing. This is where setting boundaries comes into play. Those relationships that you cherish and want to keep around are important. It is imperative that you set up boundaries in particular circumstances. And stick to them. Whatever those boundaries are, regarding bringing up certain topics (finance, body image, religion, politics, etc.), you need to clearly state them to these people. And from there, you need to remind them, if so be it.
Boundaries are crucial for healthy relationships and this is something that I am working on. Recently, in a book club with some friends, we were discussing that difficult part of transforming from "Best Friends" to "Acquaintances." Obviously, this is something that is inevitable for all of us. There doesn't need to be any reason for this happening, often times it just happens. There are times when we cannot and will not have the same relationship with someone as we did a few years earlier, and that's okay. Distance, age, and life circumstances causes this to happen all of the time.
Allowing yourself the ability to distance yourself from others is imperative in the process of setting boundaries. It is okay to say no. It is okay to not be as close with past friends. It is okay to move on to the next phase of life. Setting those boundaries, saying no, will, ultimately allow you to open your heart to new friends, new hobbies, and new experiences. Setting boundaries is not a fence, it is a door, that allows you to free yourself of any guilt or pain that others may cause you.
I challenge each of you to set a boundary this week. It will empower you.