From the minute we started walking and talking, we needed boundaries. They helped us feel safe and let us know what is acceptable and what is not. As children, we depended on these external parameters that came from attentive, caring adults. We learned how to differentiate between things like safe / unsafe , you / me, and mine / yours. It’s within the context of these loving boundaries that the bond grows between our little selves and our caregivers.
Somewhere along the way for all of us, boundaries grew more and more unclear. As we got older, our external parameters began to seem permeable; less-defined. Growing up in homes that did not esteem boundary-setting didn’t help us, either. Most of us learned some very skewed ways of obtaining and keeping relationships with ourselves, with others, and with God. Tragically, some of our boundaries were betrayed at the most sacred parts of the soul.
We see boundary-less relationships everyday:
A friend remains silent and unknown in relationship with a much more dominant and demanding friend. Instead of speaking his truth or finding authenticity, intimacy, and knowledge of himself.
A sons repeats the same habits and communication styles as a child with his mother when he’s a grown man. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions and stating his needs.
A wife tries to control her husband to think, act, and believe as she does. Instead of accepting the differences in her husband or letting him be a self, while she is also a self.
Boundaries are still needed when we grow up. They help us discern what is helpful and what is harmful. They help us navigate relationships. They help us preserve and express a more authentic version of ourselves.
Though on the outside they look different than before, boundaries still keep us safe. Instead of shielding us from unknown dangers, they intentionally guard our hearts from harmful relationships and habits. Only this time, we get to set our own.
What do you feel about the concept of setting boundaries with loved ones/yourself?
Is there a relationship in need of a boundary in your life?
What does it feel like when someone does not acknowledge your boundaries?