I’m pretty certain that you’ve experienced this before. You may not have known exactly what was happening, but you probably felt violated, offended, or a little icky. Almost like someone picked your pocket, and they weren’t even concerned that you may have seen them do it. In a previous post we discussed the meaning of boundaries. In this post we will discuss warning signs that are present when your boundaries are being crossed or ignored.
How will you know?
Your boundaries are being ignored and/or crossed when you find yourself in a situation where you are asked to (or it is assumed that you will) behave in a way that is inconsistent with your personal values, emotional or physical well being, or in a way that is uneven with the standards you have set for yourself. Here are a few examples of what this might look like.
- Your mother requires you to feel the same as she does in response to an experience she had. She guilts or shames you into feeling as she does about others involved in the situation. You are not expected to have your own feelings about the situation, but expected to adopt your mother’s feelings or suffer consequences if you do not.
- You’ve set a standard for yourself, based on your values, that you will not live with your boyfriend until you are married, and you communicated this to him. One day you arrive home from work and find that he has moved in, against your wishes.
- You try to be all things to all people. You attend every event your children have, and “No” is not a part of your vocabulary. Holding everyone’s life together is expected of you.
Does any of this sound familiar? Well keep reading.
Listen to your body
Many times, there are physical and emotional reactions or warnings that occur, when someone crosses your boundaries. You may feel churning in the pit of your stomach, or your face gets hot. You many also feel confused, irritable, anxious, surprised, and sometimes angry. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may experience the “fight or flight” response.
When we don’t set boundaries in our relationships, we leave ourselves vulnerable to trouble. As a child, my mother told me, “You teach others how to treat you”. I’ve since heard this same saying used by Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey. I’m honestly not sure who said it first. So I’ll just mention each wonderful lady here.
Although stated in a very simple way, I knew my mother meant, that, what I did or did not accept from others, is how they would learn to interact with me. It is my responsibility to show them what I will accept. She was teaching me how to set boundaries. Taking responsibility for setting and enforcing your boundaries is absolutely necessary. So own it!
What if I don’t?
There are costs to not setting healthy boundaries. A lack of boundaries can lead to:
- low self-esteem
- loss of relationships
- toxic relationships
- an overall feeling of being out of control
- financial losses
You’re worth it
As stated by Doctors Cloud and Townsend, boundaries define and protect these parts of our ‘self’: Love, Emotions, Values, Behaviors, and Attitudes. These things are worthy of being protected. They make you who you are. In the next post we’ll discuss how to set boundaries, and some things that may happen once you begin your journey to better boundaries.
How do you respond when someone crosses your boundaries? Do you allow it, or do you reinforce your boundaries?
12/10/16 | Updated 2/22/18