As women, we frequently struggle with whether we have the right to set boundaries. We end up asking ourselves, “What if setting a boundary makes me seem like I’m not a kind, understanding or nice person?” Boundaries really have nothing to do with being kind or understanding or a nice person. They are operating instructions for you and everyone you interact with. If you thought of boundaries as operating instructions for your “system” and everyone with whom you interacted had these instructions to follow, it wouldn’t be so hard for you to establish boundaries. We have internal operating instructions for ourselves and external operating instructions for everything or everyone outside of ourselves.
If your internal and external instructions are fuzzy, unclear or absent, your interactions with yourself and everyone in your life will be difficult, irritating, frustrating and challenging. The clearer you can be on how you want to treat yourself and be treated, what your needs are, what your dreams and desires are, and what your truth is, the easier it will be for you and other people to treat you that way. It will also be easier for your needs to be met, your desires and dreams to be fulfilled and for your truth to be heard.
The really great thing about operating instructions is that on a subconscious level, everyone is seeking to uncover them. It is very unsettling for people to push for a limit and not come in contact with one. You see this quite easily with children. They push and push and push until they find a limit that causes them to snap back. If there is no limit, they keep pushing. They are searching for the boundary.
Boundaries, or the snap-back point, in terms of behavior, help people feel more at ease. People may not like your snap-back point but it brings them great comfort knowing one is in place and how far they can push. Boundaries let people know when they have crossed the line. What are the consequences for crossing that line? These consequences need to be defined in your operating instructions. That way everyone knows what will happen when your line is violated. You need to honor these and follow through with the consequence each time your line is violated. In doing so, you are honoring yourself and teaching people how to treat you.
When you understand what boundaries are – internal and external operating instructions for your interactions with yourself and others, your responsibilities, your dreams and desires, and your truth, you realize the question, “Do you have the right to set boundaries?” is ridiculous. Not only do you have the right to set boundaries but it is a requirement for healthy interactions and a healthy, fulfilled life. It is because we generally don’t understand what boundaries are that we would even ask that question.