If you have ever been in or seen a situation where someone is being disrespected, you know what it looks like when someone doesn’t respect another’s boundaries. It doesn’t matter what type of relationship it is, boundaries are a necessary way to set parameters for people to know how to treat you. You teach people how to treat you by what you allow them to do to, with and around you. Let’s say, for example, you’re with a group of associates and someone makes an insensitive joke. You know you feel uncomfortable with it, yet you laugh along with everyone else, because you choose not to speak up.
Outwardly, you seem like the cool girl, that’s down for whatever, but inside, your stomach is churning with a mix of negative emotions. In that moment, you have taught that group that it’s okay to make those jokes around you.
The purpose of setting boundaries is so that you can feel good about yourself and about how you’re showing up in the world in relation to other people. You may have boundaries that other people don’t agree with, and that’s okay. Your boundaries are rules set by you, for you.
Nobody else has to agree with them and you don’t have to ask permission from anyone for them. While you may not always initially vocalise your boundaries, you can still have them. And on occasion, you may not even recognise that you have a boundary until someone crosses it. That weird feeling in your gut means something! Don’t ever ignore it!
It is then your responsibility to resolve the situation by making your boundaries known. If people want to interact with you, they will have to behave accordingly. Otherwise, if you allow others to tread upon you without consequence, you’re showing them that you don’t value yourself, so they shouldn’t either.
Setting boundaries allow you to command respect. You set the tone; do not let others set it for you. But the catch is once you set them, you have to maintain and enforce them, or else there was no point in setting them in the first place.
If there are no consequences for people not abiding by your boundaries, people will talk to you any way they want to and treat you in whatever way suits them.
You might be in a situation where you don’t feel empowered to set boundaries. Maybe your supervisor at work is always sending you to get her coffee in the morning or lunch in the afternoon. It’s not part of your job description, so there’s really no reason for you to do it. You do it anyway, though, not because you truly want to, but because you feel obligated to or you think you’re scoring brownie points. You grumble about it to others and feel anger towards your supervisor, but the truth is, you created the situation by not standing up for yourself. She doesn’t respect you for being her errand girl and when you think about it, you feel out of alignment with your inner soul and experience negativity around it. So what do you do?
Next time just say, “I’d rather not do that,” and walk away. She’ll be shocked, but she’ll respect that answer and you will feel better about yourself for standing in your truth.
Other examples of boundaries you might set in a relationship may have to do with money – don’t loan money you can’t afford to lose. Sex – no sex before 90 days or no men spending the night at your house, etc. In terms of family, parents set boundaries for their children in the form of curfews, rules of behaviour and consequences like grounding.
Whatever your rules, you’re the boss and it’s up to you to set and enforce them. And be careful about allowing someone to convince you to set aside your boundaries “just this once,” before “just this once” becomes the rule instead of the exception.
Cheers to living your best life!
Ketima Whitehall is a dynamic speaker, author and relationship coach. Through her writings, coaching
programs and devotional groups, she helps women find and use their voice which leads them to
achieving greater peace, harmony and fulfillment from their meaningful relationships.
You can find her on Facebook at KetimaWhitehallfans and Twitter @KetimaW.