Define your boundaries

Over the course of the past few weeks I discovered something crucial that had been missing from my life. No matter how far I progressed in my self improvement I always seemed to fall into the same traps and tribulations. I failed to establish personal boundaries.

Boundaries represent the line where you begin and other’s end. It is the unbroken silhouette containing who you are as a person, what you value and what you stand for. In business terms they are your “non-negotiables” – things that cannot be compromised regardless of the circumstances. Defining and knowing your personal boundaries are is absolutely critical to living a full happy life. Without a clear sense of boundaries you will be prone to Manipulation, Resentment, and Anger. If you do not know who you are others will tell you who should be.

My revelation with boundaries came fairly recently. One day in the mid afternoon while I was downtown surveying business owners for an internship project one of my co-workers texted me asking for help. I immediately stopped what I doing and returned to campus to help her. When I arrived at her dorm room she smiled and said “can you help me with my project?” Abruptly I felt an overwhelming sense of anger rising from my gut. This was the first time this coworker had spoken to me for close to a month and half. I previously offered to help her out, but she rudely declined stating “If I wanted your help I would ask.” My facial expression must have gave me away in that moment because she then asked me what was wrong. Of course my reply was “nothing”, but that was a lie. That well of anger pooling inside me was only getting larger. I needed to make a decision so I told my coworker I would help her later. The minute that conversation ended I promptly grabbed my car keys and sped onto the highway. Fueled by pent up rage I drove an hour east until I ended up back home. A few hours later I reflected on the experience to understand why I felt so bitterly hateful. Eventually I stumbled upon the concept of boundaries on the web. Upon digesting two or three articles I knew this was something I needed to apply to my life or else the incident earlier today would repeat itself.

That night I created this list of boundaries:

  1. I will not let myself be taken advantage of.
  2. I will not feel guilty for doing what I think is right.
  3. I will not engage in negative talk or gossip about others.
  4. I will say “No” firmly and assertively if I do not want to do something that goes against my personal beliefs or values.
  5. I will not tolerate friendships and relationships that are non-reciprocal and/or manipulative.
  6. I will preserve my self-respect always.
  7. I will not keep people around who do not respect me and my needs.

How I fell when people cross my boundaries?

  • Upset
  • Angry
  • Resentful
  • Used
  • Invalidated
  • Hurt
  • Disappointed
  • Anxious

I included a list of emotions I feel when my boundaries are crossed to help me remember the importance of upholding them. I keep this list hung up in my room where I can see it everyday. Ask yourself this today: What are my boundaries?

I love you – Barry

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