You’re on a date and pass on going back to their place. Or, maybe you’ve arranged to go on a date and opt not to give out your phone number yet. Perhaps your co-worker wants you to take their work, and you decline despite your fear of being disliked or not looking like a ‘team player’. Maybe you finally say no to your parents. If they respond in a less than favourable manner to what basically amounts to your boundaries, does this mean that your boundary is wrong? Um, no!

In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I explain why it’s unrealistic to expect people to be all-singing and dancing about our boundaries even when our boundaries are entirely fair and reasonable.

**I mention a London meetup in the episode. Details: April 6th 2019, 12pm – 1.15pm, Le Pain Quotidien (near Victoria Station), 128 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1JZ

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Some nuggets from the episode:

  • When things don’t proceed after we asserted a healthy boundary (e.g. not wanting to have sex when we don’t know someone or we don’t want to), it feels unfair. There’s a sense of indignation and rejection because we can’t understand how our boundary makes us ‘wrong’ (it doesn’t).
  • Sometimes people are surprised at our boundary, not because it’s ‘wrong’ but because they are unfamiliar with a boundaried us. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have boundaries but we also shouldn’t be surprised that they just expect the status quo to continue regardless of whether it’s good for you or not.
  • Boundaries: knowing the difference between us and others, and knowing what does and doesn’t feel good and right for us so that we can live our life in alignment with our values.

It’s not that we don’t want to have healthy boundaries but the that we conflate the value, necessity and validity of boundaries with gaining agreement from others.

  • You have a say in your own life, and behave like someone who has agency, so someone who believes that they are in charge of their life. You know where you stand, that you have a say in what happens to you and that you have some ability to shape your circumstances. People know the line when you know the line. 
  • Boundaries are two-fold, so when you set or know what the boundary is for others, you create that boundary for you too. That removes the ‘telling people what to do’ element out of them.
  • We get angry at other people’s seemingly negative responses to our boundaries because, especially when we’re aware of how ludicrous the other person’s request or expectation might be, we see ours as the prevailing boundary. The ‘right’ one. So when they, express their discomfort, we feel offended by what we see as the dismissal of our boundaries and the ‘importance’ of theirs.

Boundaries don’t hurt people’s feelings. The story they tell themselves about the expectations and the person’s boundaries ‘hurt’ feelings. 

  • Just because someone has a need, it doesn’t mean that we have to meet it.
  • It is OK for people to get upset, to feel uncomfortable, to act weird, to not want to go on more dates or whatever. That’s their stuff.
  • Sometimes all someone needs out of a situation is a clear no.

Links mentioned

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