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  • Writer's pictureLauren

Love thy boundaries

Imagine a garden fence. The fence surrounds the garden perfectly. It keeps some things in and some things out. It's strong and sturdy and everyone automatically knows not to try and get past. Sometimes the wind will shake it and you'll see it wobble. Sometimes a storm will actually send it crashing down, before you scramble to get it fixed again as quickly as possible. The thought of the fence suddenly broken and the garden exposed, is a very uncomfortable one. You feel safe and secure when it's there.

Now imagine that fence around you, and you can start to understand what a boundary is. A boundary is an invisible line we have, that we don't want crossed. However, unlike a fence, people can't see it and have to learn about it instead. Furthermore, as everyone's own personal boundaries are different, it's up to us to teach others about what and where ours are.

This can be difficult if you aren't actually sure what your boundaries are to begin with. Working out what they are relies heavily on gut feelings and what feels right and wrong for you. Examples of different kinds of boundaries you can set include never lending friends money, stopping work at 5pm instead of always working unpaid overtime, not liking people hugging you if you don't know them well enough, or the biggest one of them all...simply being able to say no. Below is a brilliant description of all the main types of boundary you can set for yourself. Some may be relatively easy to decide for yourself and some can be a lot more complicated, especially when emotions and relationships are involved. Working out exactly what you are and aren't comfortable with takes time. It's a case of trial and error. You may allow someone to treat you a certain away several times before you realise it's not what you want. Try not to worry, it's the same for all of us. Whether you were never taught healthy boundaries as a child, or whether you have encountered a new situation or met someone new, we are all consistently adapting old boundaries and setting new ones. It's a process!

Once you've worked out what your boundaries are, it's time to make sure you enforce them. People will generally do whatever you let them get away with. This isn't usually malicious, it's just human nature. For example, if you are always the one to do the housework, your partner will quickly just get used to it and stop helping. So how do we make sure people respect the boundaries we create?

It's all about the word no.

It is incredibly easy to view the word no as a negative, instead of a positive. It can mean rejection, not getting what you want, and feeling generally let down.

It's time to reframe the word and take it back. The word no is here to release you from anything you are unhappy with or that drains you. You do not need to say yes to people in order to make them like you. You do not need to justify your reasoning for saying no. People will respect your decision if you own it and ultimately, will respect you.

But what if it doesn't work...?

It is not your fault if, for whatever reason, someone refuses to respect your boundaries. If someone is continuing to push you to do something they know you don't want to do, continually tries to contact you when you are not responding, touches you when you aren't comfortable, or generally crosses any line you have drawn, you are not the one to blame. If you stay strong and don't enable them to do so, their inability to empathise with and respect your choices says nothing about you and everything about them.

Stay strong, love thy boundaries.

Lauren x


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