Whether you are aware of it or not, you have a set of boundaries for yourself that are guiding you through life.
You know, those invisible lines created when you establish rules and guidelines for yourself on what you will permit, accept, and allow from other people. If you’re anything like me, you’ve taken advice from therapists, coaches, counselors, mentors, and gurus over the years on how to be more assertive with your boundaries. I’m sure you know this—the tricky part of establishing boundaries is getting other people to respect and follow yours.
After years of doing my own boundary work and teaching clients about boundaries, I had a major revelation that changed everything for me.
I realized that I’d been taught to approach boundaries from the belief that I need to keep the bad things out. I was unknowingly establishing boundaries from the place of the victim. My approach to setting boundaries was ultimately a meager attempt at controlling the behavior of others. I judged whether or not their behaviors crossed my boundaries, then I made it their problem if I determined a breach had taken place. I did not set out to control other people, yet that’s exactly what I was trying to do, and I didn’t realize it for the longest time.
Like most of you, my intention was simply to protect myself from any behaviors, thoughts, opinions, and actions that I perceived to be outside the realm of my highest and greatest good. Those are noble intentions for anyone.
Remember, other people do not automatically know your boundaries.
Think about it. Do you automatically know everyone else’s boundaries? Have you ever crossed another person’s boundary? Why did you do it? My guess is it’s because you didn’t realize it existed, not because you’re a jerk. Consider allowing the same space for people who cross your boundaries. Not everyone is a jerk. Perhaps they simply aren’t aware of your boundaries.
So how do you establish boundaries for yourself without trying to control other people and impose your rules onto others? It’s a subtle, yet powerful shift.
Establish boundaries with yourself. Stop trying to impose your boundaries on other people.
Be deliberate, dedicated, and disciplined with yourself, your choices, and how you spend your time. Once you do this, there will no longer be a need to monitor everyone else in your life who might stomp on your boundaries. The problem ultimately lies with the expectations that come from establishing boundaries. It’s unfair of you to expect anyone in your life to honor your boundaries simply because you set them for yourself.
What if other people’s personal boundaries don’t align with yours? Whose problem is that? We can talk in vicious circles about this for days, and we’ll get nowhere.
Shift your focus and start to establish stronger boundaries with yourself, and this problem magically dissipates.
Knowing you are secure with the boundaries you have set for yourself is empowering.
You can learn to trust yourself enough to stand up for yourself in any given situation without having preconceived rules and guidelines. Know your boundaries and be consistent in applying them to yourself. It’s that simple.
How do you do this?
First, remember that simple isn’t easy. Establishing boundaries is more about learning to listen to your inner guidance system, what I call your Life GPS System. When you learn to listen to the guidance of your higher self—the you with a capital YOU—you’ll have everything you need to guide you in any given situation.
I didn’t automatically know my own Life GPS System. It takes time, effort, and intention to get to know yourself on a deep level; and, you have to be willing to look at and take ownership of everything about yourself, including your flaws, your misgivings, and your ugly behaviors. You also have to be willing to let go of values that are not truly yours—those values that society and others convinced you should be yours. This will help you sort out what actually comprises your values and what doesn’t. Once you identify what is yours, you’ll see all those places in life where you’ve projected, unfairly, onto others; and, you’ll be able to see more clearly when people are projecting at you.
When you can see this, you’ll have the power not to accept it and not to participate in this self-sabotaging behavior anymore.
You’ll also be able to see where you’ve stomped on the boundaries of others. It’s easy to convince yourself that only other people cross boundaries and that you’d never do that to anyone else. The truth is, you cross boundaries all the time; and oftentimes you don’t even know you’ve done it unless you find yourself accused. Why didn’t you know it? Most likely because you didn’t know the boundary existed.
With greater insights and awareness, you’ll be able to take a step back and observe previously confrontational situations with some space, distance, and objectivity.
Then, you’ll want to be more deliberate with how you choose to spend your time. If how you’re spending your time aligns with your core values, then it’ll feel less and less like other people are stomping your boundaries all the time. You’ll spend less time projecting at others and monitoring your boundaries because you’ll know from within that your choices align with YOU.
When your choices align with YOU, the self-sabotage will cease.
A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings. Always believe in yourself. – Unknown
There is nothing more empowering than getting to know yourself and learning to trust yourself.
We have created a safe space to discuss this topic with 4 Wellness Universe Experts to help you stop sabotaging your success and joy, so you can confidently live the life of your dreams.
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Jennifer Whitacre is an Empowerment Strategist, host of the Yes, And… Podcast, and an author who helps her clients find their unique Life GPS System. It’s her mission to educate & inspire people so they can shift their focus, get unstuck, and move forward in life.