“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.”
Cloud, Henry; Townsend, John
Setting boundaries is an essential act through which one can take responsibility for one’s own life. If we don’t set our limits and learn to say “no” when needed, we allow external circumstances and other people to take control of our life and fate.
Very often we may find ourselves wondering how our life has come to such a point where we have no control of the situation and we live every day as if it were someone else’s day. We become observers, watching the flow of reality carrying us into our daily routines and sometimes away from our deepest wishes and highest dreams.
We continue being in relationships that clearly have no future and need to end, in jobs that drain our energy and need to be changed, in processes and daily rituals that have nothing valuable to offer us, and yet we persist in them out of an inability to say no to habit.
Although, due to the unexpected nature of life itself, we may not have full control of the events, circumstances, twists and turns in the “scenario”, we do get to make decisions that may trigger a change or sustain our habitual reality.
Taking responsibility for our actions
Imagine for a moment that you are the hero or heroine in this story called “My Life”. You get to choose if you want to interact with certain people, if you want to have a relationship with someone or not, what kind of job you do, what hobbies you take up, how you act in every single moment and what direction you lead your life to.
Doesn’t that sound great? Or does it sound too difficult? Does it maybe demand more energy and dedication and a sense of purpose?
Setting boundaries entails taking important decisions. Taking decisions requires the ability of knowing how to be an independent person, knowing what you really want. Knowing what you want means following a goal, having a purpose in life. Fulfilling your purpose involves consciously assuming responsibility for your actions, thus claiming the power that lies in your own authentic and original individuality and shouting it out to the world. It is a winning cycle.
Frank Sinatra called it “My Way”. It may sound too egotistical and self-centred to do everything your way, especially when considering the self-sacrificing religious upbringing that so many of us have had.
By no way am I suggesting that we blindly go about doing what we think is right for us, without caring for other people. But we need to set proper and clear boundaries, so that who we are and what we are here to offer does not only remain a wish at the back of our head.
Setting boundaries with compassion and self-compassion
When taking decisions that lead to boundary-setting, you can weigh your choices by considering two criteria:
- Compassion for others: Does my boundary harm others physically or emotionally? Is there a way I can communicate my need to set this limit in a non-aggressive manner, also respecting the other person’s freedom, integrity and wellbeing?
- Self-compassion: Does this boundary enhance my life and bring wellbeing and inner peace? Does it manifest as the result of an inner need or inner calling I want to listen to? Will it help me grow as a person and fulfill my dreams?
When you set a boundary, when you say “yes” or “no” to someone or to a situation, always do it from a place of love, for yourself and others. It is a process that takes courage and skill. It very often requires assuming full responsibility for our life, our choices and actions. It demands a change of habits and the rekindling of our personal power. And it can also lead to great fulfillment and self-realization.
Author: Eirini Kapsidou
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