Boundaries: Understanding the consequences and enforcing them

How was your week of practicing boundaries? Was it fairly easy or did you find yourself struggling with creating the needed distance?

What was the hardest part for you?

One of the most difficult things I noticed was to actually enforce those boundaries. I may be uncomfortable with certain action(s) but without reinforcement, things will return to the status quo. In the last boundaries blog, we discussed the role our level of emotional investment plays into our willingness to follow through. We are curious creatures and will look for ways to test our limits. My dog, Jillian, continuously reminds me of the importance of enforcing boundaries on a daily basis; she keeps me on my toes about addressing any behavioral issue early rather than allowing it to escalate and also enforces her boundaries if I violate them.

Just like setting boundaries, enforcing them is just as, if not more difficult. You may lose some relationships you thought were stronger than they appeared. It will hurt. It will be very painful. But it may also be one of the most freeing experiences of your life. At the end of all of this, you will have the individuals in your life who are healthy, respectful, and will add real value to your life.

One of the rules I personally follow is that you live with yourself 24 hours a day- 7 days a week. Any decision you make, regardless of who advised you, you will have to live with the consequences- not anyone else. It is extremely important that you remain honest with your wants and needs.

I know the idea sounds extremely selfish. I remember how scary this process was when I first started enforcing those boundaries. There is some level of dysfunctionality that exists in each family. For those who grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family, putting your needs ahead of the toxic individuals may be presented very negatively. To be fair, there are some individuals who may truly mean well, but find it difficult to accept that they cannot choose your path for you. In that same respect, some toxic individuals have gone as far as using cultural or religious beliefs to remain in control.

Guilt and shame are two common tools used to invalidate your boundaries, so it is no surprise that so many are hesitant about creating their own space but keep in mind that inappropriate or lack of boundaries creates distance and resentment in our relationships. The constant clash between unhealthy rigid beliefs and the personal space needed for growth can be difficult to balance initially — but not impossible.

Boundaries: when to say yes, how to say no by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend is a book I recommend — though it is written from a Christian perspective, it applies to many people regardless of religious beliefs. It outlines the necessity of boundaries in the multiple roles that we play and ways to keep our hearts from becoming contaminated by unnecessary toxicity.

Keep it up– You are one step closer to living YOUR life.

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