Boundaries are about putting yourself first. They are about loving yourself and protecting yourself. When we establish reasonable boundaries in our lives, we are saying to ourselves: “I love myself enough to recognize that this behavior, or this toxic person in my life, does not serve me in any kind of healthy way,
Boundaries are vitally important.
For some of us, it may feel confusing and unclear as to what boundaries, if any, we might need to put into place in our lives. I know that for me, it is always very clear what boundaries I need to set, but it is very difficult for me to maintain them. Even though I am a smart, competent, capable woman, I love to break my boundaries. A friend once told me that she thought I set up boundaries or rules simply because I love to break them. And there is absolutely some truth to that. I have a pattern of behavior in regards to boundary setting. I define a boundary, I set a boundary, and then I enter into this state of bargaining that inevitably results in me breaking my boundary (particularly in relationships that just don’t work). I convince myself that ‘I have changed enough’ or someone else has ‘changed enough’ and maybe ‘this time things will work out’. But guess what? Nothing changes and all of the unhealthy relationship patterns fall right back into place. I play that on repeat for a few months until I break down completely and realize the truth. The boundary I initially set (usually one of space) is real and tough and it was set for a reason.
And when that time comes, and I am finally able to maintain that boundary of space, I gain a little bit of myself back; the piece that was lost and fixated on someone or something that was really just a fantasy. In this type of situation, the enforced boundary becomes a kind of wake up call.
What does it mean when we have very few, or perhaps, no boundaries? I honestly think that for some people, not having boundaries feels easier. It is in no way healthy, but it is absolutely a much easier path to walk. Diving into other people’s lives, into other people’s problems, allows us to ignore our own. Constantly giving away too much of ourselves means conveniently denying ourselves the important self work that we all need to tackle. Codependency means you don’t know where you begin or someone else ends, and once that realization kicks in, that moment when you realize that you don’t really know who you are, it can feel pretty scary. Having no boundaries means a constant state of confusion and unsettled feelings – especially in regards to relationships. When we are fixated on someone else, we have given up our basic rights to ourselves. Having no boundaries is essentially saying “I don’t matter enough; this person, or this thing matters more than I do. I am not worth it.”
Setting a boundary when you are codependent can feel terrifying. I get it. I have been there many times. I have a tendency towards codependent behavior and it takes constant diligence to make sure I am not losing myself in another person’s life. But I have finally come to understand that with each successful boundary that I maintain, sticking with subsequent boundaries gets easier and doesn’t feel quite as daunting. For people who struggle with codependency, getting lost is a very easy way of opting out of dealing with their own shit. And we all know that facing off with our own issues and our own unhealthy tendencies can be completely exhausting. The temptation to hop right back into our unhealthy ingrained behavioral patterns is more than just tempting, it is hardwired into our brains.
Setting a boundary is a powerful act of self love. Through the setting of boundaries, we are declaring our love for ourselves.
Remember: You come first. No matter what.