We don’t want to be doormats, but we don’t want to be porcupines either. Doormats get walked on, but porcupines can’t be hugged. Melody Beattie ( The new Codependency)
While having boundaries is really important, setting them is an art. Too flimsy and you get walked on; too rigid and you end up pricking others. Boundary setting is context and person dependent. You might need to set more or frequent boundaries with some while none or little with others. Similarly situation and circumstances affect our boundary setting.
Think of one or two people who constantly test your boundaries.
How do you feel when they do that?
Do you suppress or acknowledge your feelings?
How do your set boundaries around them? Melody Beattie says that boundaries need to be set in a way so that we don’t end up controlling others. There’s a difference between setting boundaries ( things which are in your control- your behaviour) vs controlling others.
“Boundaries concern us – what we can do about something.” ( Melody Beattie)
You cannot control/change someone’s way of being, you can only decide what you want to do about how it adversely affects you. How do you enforce your boundary around it?
For example, you are concerned about someone close to you smoking. You’re concerned about their health. And you’re also concerned that you’re inhaling the passive smoke when they smoke around you. Which one is yours to draw a boundary around? Yes, you can raise your concerns with them about how the smoking impacts their health. However, you cannot force them or manipulate them to stop smoking; that’s controlling. But you can set a boundary around how it affects you to by telling them you refuse to be around them when they smoke. Also, phrasing your concern appropriately while offering to support to them if they’d like to quit smoking, while taking into account their point of view, can help too.
In some cases, setting bounties will be hurtful in the beginning. For example if a persons behaviour/habit is causing you direct psychological, mental, physical harm ( this is different than your concern for the person’s health), you will need to set firmer boundaries. You’ll feel guilty and sad about setting the boundaries but when there is harm, this has to be done.
The non-negotiable boundaries are:
Not hurting yourself
Not hurting others
Not letting others hurt you (emotionally, psychologically, physically)