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Setting Boundaries That are Clear and Well-Expressed

setting boundries

Whenever you feel that everyone is walking all over you, taking you for granted, and is not respecting your feelings and emotions, maybe it’s time that you set a few boundaries to protect yourself from such hurtful behaviours.

Ever feel used, abused and confused? It may be that you are suffering from “Boundaryitis”.

Boundaryitis! You’re inflamed because people walk all over you. You have no boundaries to keep you safe. That’s what boundaries are for.

Boundaries are fundamentally important to creating healthy relationships. They are essential in relationships with people you love, or with people who say they love you. They are even more essential (if that is possible) to keep you safe from toxic people, thoughtless people, and difficult people.

The major symptoms of Boundaryitis are feeling:

  • Violated
  • Stepped on
  • Stepped over
  • Disregarded
  • Discounted
  • Unseen
  • Unheard
  • Neglected
  • Powerless
  • Used
  • At other people’s disposal
  • Disrespected
  • Taken for granted
  • Abused

The good news is that there is a clean cure for Boundaryitis: clarify, express and maintain your boundaries.

Be sure to take the time to clarify your boundaries and know why they are important to you. Boundaries are not demands to help you get what you want. That’s petulance! Boundaries are based on knowing your values, your needs, and your priorities.

Related: The Art of Setting Boundaries

You need to also know where the flexibility or “wiggle room” is. Does the boundary apply to certain people or all people? What would be a case in which it did not apply? Your clarity when thinking through your boundaries makes you much more confident in expressing them.

That cure for Boundaryitis has side effects, though. They range from immediately receiving more, and mutual, respect to upsetting and alienating people who do not want you to have boundaries.

People who are upset by your maintaining your boundaries may not have your best interests at heart. Let them be upset. If those folks are important to you, talk it through with them so they have the best chance of understanding your boundaries.

That gives you an opportunity to let them express theirs as well. Then, if your boundaries do not sit well with them, let them move away from you, or you from them.

Maintain your boundaries

Flexible boundaries are no boundaries at all. Think of a flexible boundary on the ski hill pictured above. What would it mean?

Maybe the snow is too soft here, but maybe not. Maybe this cliff is too high to jump, but maybe not. Maybe there are dangerous rocks below, or maybe you’ll miss them. Absurd, right?

Maintain your boundaries. Oh, that sounds so simple! It’s not.

For many people, the very thought of expressing a boundary sends fear to their core, fear that someone won’t like them, approve of them, or love them. And, they are right. Someone may not, but that’s far better than not liking, approving of, or loving themselves!

People with Boundaryitis often get great mileage from “Doormat Syndrome.” They have no boundaries, but they get inflamed anytime they think someone is walking all over them.

They tell big stories like: “You’ll never guess what that person did to me” or “Ain’t it awful?” or “S/he done me wrong.” Big victim stories.

They get stuck in the story and the reactions they get to tell the story. They look for sympathy, empathy, or a shoulder to cry on. They get mileage out of the story and still feel very used.

Without clarified, expressed and maintained boundaries, they are laying down holding a sign that says,

They are welcoming people to turn them into a heavy traffic area! 

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Rhoberta Shaler, PhD

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD.  When you're ready to say 'No more!' to toxic relationships, unnecessary drama, and poor examples for your children to follow, work with Dr. Shaler directly now  Subscribe to her Tips for Relationships. Listen to her podcasts for valuable insights and strategies to reclaim yourself, and create healthy relationships with yourself and others:Emotional Savvy: The Relationship Help Show, and Save Your Sanity: Help for Handling Hijackals.View Author posts