There can be a temptation to use not having boundaries to prove how much we love and care about someone or how worthy we are of better treatment. We claim it’s our version of ‘unconditional love’. Sometimes that even extends itself to using suffering to demonstrate what a good person we are and to earn our needs, expectations and wants being met.

Resisting boundaries by claiming that they put ‘conditions’ on people blocks us from the truth. What we’re really avoiding is where we don’t want to have boundaries with ourselves. It’s like permission to run riot or to keep suffering without taking responsibility for our part in our own discomfort and pain. We get to say we’re being ‘good’ without paying attention to how this so-called ‘goodness’ creates problems.

As uncomfortable as it can be for us to acknowledge, we’re also trying to limit people having boundaries with us. Our fear of boundaries and believing that they’re bad or that they hurt feelings really tells us how we feel about people saying no or expressing their limits with us.

When we avoid saying no, where are we already afraid of receiving no?

When we’re afraid of expressing limits, where are we afraid of accepting someone else’s?

If we think that boundaries mean loving someone ‘conditionally’, where are our conditions? They’re in there somewhere. What are we hoping to get or avoid by not having boundaries? What do we expect from this person?

Unconditional love involves boundaries. In distinguishing ourselves from the other party and knowing and enacting our limits, the other person learns that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They also get to learn who we truly are (and us them) so that we enjoy a more intimate relationship.

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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