The Hardest Boundaries You'll Set in Your Life

Oct 29, 2020

In each of our lives, there's one person who's always tearing us down, who recklessly spends our money and makes inexplicable decisions that cost us valuable time, and sometimes that person can let us down like no one else. Yep, I'm talking about myself. And you. And everyone who struggles to place boundaries that they can adhere to in their own lives.

Being mature about the boundaries we set for ourselves is tough.

How to begin:

Address your real need!

Out-of-control patterns often disguise themselves as something else. You need to address the underlying need before you can deal with the out-of-control behavior. For example, impulsive eaters may discover that food is a way to separate and stay safe from romantic and sexual intimacy. Their fear of being faced with those kinds of emotionally laden situations may cause them to use food as a boundary. As their internal boundaries with the opposite sex become firmer, they can give up their destructive food boundary. They learn to ask for help for the real problem – not just for the symptomatic problem.

Allow yourself to fail!

Many people who address the real issue underneath a self-boundary problem are often disappointed that the problem keeps recurring. The same process that we use to learn to drive a car, swim, or learn a foreign language is the one we use for learning better self-boundaries. Immersion, repetition and internalization will get you a lot of the way there.

Listen to empathic feedback from others!

Many times you are unaware of your own failures. Sometimes you may not truly understand the extent of the damage your lack of boundaries causes in the lives of those you care about. Others who believe in you can provide perspective and support.

Welcome consequences as a teacher!

We suffer losses when we aren't responsible. The impulsive overeater has medical and social difficulties. The over-spender faces bankruptcy court. The chronically late person misses plane flights and important meetings and opportunities to advance at work. Let your consequences be lessons.

Surround yourself with people who are loving and supportive!

As you hear feedback and suffer consequences, maintain close contact with your support network. Your difficulties are too much to bear alone. You need others who will be loving and supportive, but who will not rescue.

There is no easy or lifelong answer to many of the self-boundary issues individuals must deal with. It's something that we all have to maintain for the rest of our lives. Knowing how to recognize our own shortcomings and the steps to take to correct them will give us a big advantage in striving to achieve our goals, to be better people and to enjoy our lives.