This is a common question I am asked when I tell people that my horses and I work with boundaries in relationships. So, I thought, I would paint a picture of what I mean?
In all of our relationships, boundaries govern our behaviour; in what we say, do, how we behave and relate to others, and vice versa. More often than not, our interactions are friendly and everyone moves on with their day, happy and contented.
However, there are be times, when what we say or how we behave rubs someone up the wrong way. Their feelings and emotions are aroused and they become annoyed, frustrated, angry, etc. We have crossed the line, pushed or violated their boundary and their feelings have been hurt.
Some examples, of how we may have further pushed or violated their boundary; ie
Physically – by touching, hugging, pushing or hitting them.
Emotionally – by putting them down or calling them names
Mentally – by dismissing their thoughts and devaluing their ideas.
Sexually – wolf whistling them in the street or touching them appropriately.
Spiritually – by disrespecting their spiritual beliefs and practices
What we may get back in return could well be
A verbally &/or physically, angry reaction that could lead to misunderstandings, and a breakdown in the relationship; in the short or long term.
A response that clearly communicates that what we have said or done, is disrespectful and unacceptable, and a request or warning – not to do it again.
Alternatively, they could internalise or hide their feelings, finding it difficult to respond. Similarly, they may pretend that everything is fine to avoid an angry exchange or confrontation for a quiet life.
Boundaries are the major lessons we learn from our parents or primary care givers. Therefore, what we learn is dependent on whether our boundaries are healthy, inconsistent/porous to non-existent, rigid. What and how we learn, will be largely dependent on how our parents were taught, and the way they have chosen to parent us.
With healthy boundaries, we value our own opinions, thoughts and feelings and are not be prepared to compromise our values or beliefs for another. We are not afraid to communicate our needs or ask for what we want. There is a flexibility in how we exercise boundaries in our relationships.
Porous / Inconsistent Boundaries:
When our boundaries are porous or inconsistent, we find it difficult to say ‘no’, we are prepared to compromise ourselves based on the needs and wants of others. We are less likely to communicate our needs.
With no boundaries, we are open to being treated in the way others see fit, we are unaware of how we feel and may not know how to communicate our needs. We will be easily swayed and influenced.
With rigid boundaries, we keep people at a distance, afraid to allow others close to us, and therefore, form few close relationships, for fear of rejection. We can be detached and keep our personal information close to our chest.
How we deal with any situation; challenging or otherwise, is largely dependent on our past experiences and the strength of our boundaries. So,
Take take 2mins to do the Boundaries Questionnaire and find out how strong your boundaries are
If you would like to have a further discussion about your boundaries, feel free to call me on 07572 363041