One of the mistakes many make in trying to have boundaries is seeing them solely as a means of guiding and directing or even ruling others. Boundaries are for us first and foremost. Others know our line when we know it.

If someone isn’t being boundaried, continuing to behave as if they are being boundaried or ‘normal’ causes us to not only lack the appropriate boundaries but not to make adjustments and recognise the differences in our relationships.

Our boundaries are not always visible in the sense that we can automatically see at a glance what the lengths and breadths of a person’s boundaries are. 

The only way to create boundaries is to know and communicate them through what we say and do (or what we opt not to).

Everyone’s boundaries are different, and we are each responsible for letting others know where we and they stand with us. And, yes, that includes family.

With family, due to the longstanding history, we need to take responsibility for how we want to come across now and in the future. Family relies on a lot of habits and assumptions. As a result, if we don’t want them to think that past experiences of us or assumptions apply, we have to be more boundaried so that we have a clear differentiation between the past and the present. 

If we keep acting as we always have, even if we’re about to erupt inside, our boundaries will be unclear. We’re also going to implode or explode.

If you’ve struggled with boundaries with family, rather than being open to their habits in the sense of playing a role that fulfils their need to be in their role, be yourself. That means being more honest and authentic by having healthier boundaries rather than trying to pretend that you are an actual kid (being in a child role) or by fulfilling any other costumed role that leaves you feeling inadequate.

Communication isn’t all verbal, so how you show up each day and within your relationships lets the people within them gather information about:

  1. Who you are (or who they think you are) – your values.
  2. Your intentions.
  3. How you regard them.
  4. What you’re prepared to tolerate.

People cannot read your mind, but they can read your actions, so it’s vital to match what you do not just with what you say but also with what you think – congruency. Creating healthier boundaries through being more authentically yourself removes ambiguity and mixed messages but also ensures that you don’t undermine yourself.

Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.

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