Have you ever been in a situation that feels like there is no true solution? Where, no matter what you choose, the resolve will likely be unpleasant? Have you ever uttered the phrase: In this situation, there is no winning? The boundaries you are holding, or not holding, in your life are shaping these seemingly impossible situations.
What are boundaries? Boundaries are both the moral and emotional lines that shape who we are and what we believe in. Boundaries are shaped by our beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world, and these beliefs also shape how we will enforce them. Boundaries determine what we will allow as our life, and what we won’t. Boundaries define our learned lessons, and how we are implementing them into our life. Boundaries are unique for each individual, as they are shaped out of our stories, and the way in which we have processed them.
The most important thing to remember about boundaries is that how you enforce yours will determine your life, and what is allowed, both positively and negatively within it. For example: If you believe that you are not worthy of love; worthy of someone’s full investment and faithfulness in loving you, then you will tolerate behavior that reflects this belief. If you were drawing a circle of confidence around yourself, this side would certainly appear to be collapsed in, and thus, this is the boundary, the line, that you show tolerance to in your life. What this also means is that if you reframed this overriding belief, and held a zero tolerance policy for anything less than committed love, you would only have committed love in your life. We are creating our very realities with the beliefs that tell us what we can and can’t have in this life, what we do and don’t deserve, and our boundaries are a direct reflection of those beliefs.
When you look around your life, in the areas you don’t feel fully satiated by – what is it that makes these areas less fulfilling? You are salaried as a professional to work forty hours per week, yet your boss keeps insisting you invest more. Now, understand, there are variables here – you need the money, you need this job, you aim to move up in this field, but all of these variables are just distractions from the true fulfillment. Here’s what I mean – if you held a strong boundary that you were salaried for forty hours a week, and that is all you will work, without a form of compensation, and your boss won’t respect your boundary, then you will need to make a decision about whether you will remain at the job. The decision isn’t determined directly by the variables, but rather the beliefs we are holding. Strong boundaries often means we will have to make decisions that can seem scary, or even irrational, but in all honesty, your boundaries are what are building your trust in yourself, and showing you how you value yourself. What is more important than that?
Now, we need to accentuate that your beliefs are shaping your boundaries. Let’s say that you are over your desired weight. You find yourself eating larger portions than your body needs to be fueled for your life, or you find yourself allowing processed food into your life that offers no nutritional value, or you find yourself feeling lonely and binging, or maybe you believe it doesn’t really matter anyway, so why bother? Or you believe that you’re past the age or health that you can even get started? Or you believe you can’t trust yourself to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Or you believe you are not worthy of that kind of life? Or… there are so many beliefs we tell ourselves about what we can and can’t do, have, or be. These beliefs determine if we have a strict boundary within ourselves that gets us up and out the door for a run a few times or week, or if we are going to eat another slice of cake.
By strengthening our boundaries we are strengthening our beliefs; we are telling ourselves that we will take control of what we can take control of in life to steer our life in the direction that actually fulfills us. Strong boundaries means we are deciding our life, and not just allowing life to happen to us. This is how we win tough situations that seem to have no solutions – we win within ourselves, and the more we rely on ourselves to hold those boundaries, the more self-love and trust we are building within ourselves. This trust, this self-love, they are the markers that let us start to shift our beliefs about what our life can and will be.