When we are conscious of where we stand in the world it empowers us to acknowledge our desires. When we know what we want, we can see very clearly what it is that we don’t want. Setting healthy boundaries enables us to live the life we want to live and leads us towards creating the partnerships we desire. We can create relationships with more freedom, self-care and earnest generosity through this process.
Discovering what we value, what is healthy for us and what kind of relationship we truly want, helps to determine what boundaries need to be set. How much alone time do we really need to feel good? How much can we give to others and stay healthy, ourselves? What brings us joy and are we making space for those things? What do we get excited about, are we excited often?…etc. Diving deep, asking the hard questions, and really being honest with ourselves about what we want and need is critical to setting boundaries with our loved ones. When we become intimate with our own ideal images of who we want to be, we can ascertain what is serving that image and what is not.
Identifying Limits and Desires
Paying attention to our feelings and recognizing our own patterns of behavior show us where we are draining our energy or psychologically harming ourselves as well, this is how we identify what our limits are. When we express what we need to feel safe, happy and content, we enable our partners to fulfil those needs. When we can pinpoint what will hinder us from living the life we desire, we can then learn how to express that to our partners.
Most of us assume our partners should know us well enough to know what is healthy for us. This is not fair to them or to us. People who love us want to know exactly what to do or not do to make us happy and healthy. And this brings them a sense of security about what is expected from them. Telling them does not hurt them, constrict them or take the mystery and magic away. It opens them up to be able to satisfy us on all levels. When we know that crossing boundaries is going to cause a negative response, a person who is respectful and loving will try to honor them.
As a society we have seen boundaries as a nasty word. That by setting limits, we are being demanding, harsh, pushy or aggressive. Boundaries are the way in which we care for ourselves and that is not nasty. Holding strong in what is healthy for us is empowering to ourselves and others. This expands our abilities and enables us to fully embody who we want to be in the world.
Firm but Flexible
As with anything, the way in which we say things will make an enormous difference on how it is received. There are times to scream loud and times to gently guide those around us. Setting boundaries can take many different forms. In love relationships, it is important to remember that things change continuously and by expecting our partners to respect our limits, we also need to respect theirs. It is wise for us to express limits and desires in ways that we would want them expressed to us. And to recognize that its not only about us, just as when our partner’s boundaries are not just about them. In other words, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Children thrive when boundaries are set, they feel more secure when they know what is expected of them. It is important, though, to redirect them towards what they CAN do. If we only tell them what is not OK, they will be left frustrated and focused on the negative. They will learn to get attention through breaking boundaries instead of learning to choose positive actions. Adults are the same. People don’t want to only hear negatives. We want to know what we can do if we are being told what we can’t.
Understanding and obtaining boundaries is critical to being generous. One can give things endlessly, and it is a both beautiful and admirable thing to do, when it isn’t harming our own well-being to do so. This includes time and energy. Generosity is gifting to another being, it remains a gift only when it is given away, without attachment. Without expectation of reward or reciprocation. And if one has given more than is healthy for them, it is not the person receiving that is at fault but the giver that has not set their personal boundaries.
When we can tell our partners what we don’t want by setting limits and clearly communicating what makes us feel angry, drained, triggered, disappointed, unloved, disenchanted, extremely uncomfortable, turned off, etc.…they are empowered to choose their behavior. We then have a clearer picture of their ability to respect and honor us as human beings. This lends to more openness and freedom from both parties because everyone knows what is expected and the relationship becomes more relaxed and flowing.
Dawn Celeste McGregor is a Writer and Expansion Coach. Contact Dawn Celeste at her website, expansiveconnections.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation. Check out Expansive Living on Facebook.