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Day 10. You Can Have Healthy Boundaries, Even With The Resisters

Boundaries express the integrity and health of your relationships, reflecting how each party recognises and honours their separateness and how they each take responsibility for how they show up in the relationship.


A healthy mutual relationship contains two people who recognise that they are two separate and individual entities who are each worthwhile in their own right but who are also conscientious, loving, caring, trusting and respectful enough to recognise that they are also a team in the context of their relationship. They can be vulnerable enough to trust each other to show up and to protect the integrity of their bond, and they also know that they have to be honest (the truth with respect) so that they can know each other deeply and be open to knowing each other further even with the possibility that they won’t always see eye to eye. 


They are interdependent: they know where each ends and the other begins. It’s a mutual relationship so they can depend on each other in the sense of relying on each other (knowing what to expect, turning to each other when needed, etc.) but are not dependent on each other in the sense of being excessively emotionally reliant on them for identity and purpose.


You can also have a healthy relationship with somebody who isn’t necessarily the most boundaried of people. Yes, really!


Relationships represent connections and dynamics, with some being deeper and more detailed connections than others. You can enjoy a relationship with a person (this is relationships of all types not just romantic) but you can also have a healthy relationship in the sense of knowing your boundaries and so recognising any limitations that might exist in that relationship or special pieces of information that govern the way in which you need to think about or interact with that person.


We do this naturally every single day when we, for instance, interact with strangers or acquaintances when we’re a customer, or when we’re dealing with a child, a police officer, or our boss and co-workers.


You take account of how you behave and how you think about you in the context of this person and the relationship, without even referencing how that person acts.


E.g. You have a healthy relationship with your doctor because you are aware of the boundaries that need to exist without it being explicitly stated. You modify your behaviour and thinking accordingly without having to give a great deal of thought into who and what they might be. Because you have a healthy concept of what this relationship needs to be, if your doctor crosses your boundaries, you would no doubt feel upset about it, but you also wouldn’t blame you for it because boundaries and respect for you would tell you that your doctor has been unprofessional.


E.g. Your father is intrusive even though you’ve clocked up a few decades here on earth. He crosses boundaries and will attempt to guilt and manipulate you when you don’t comply. After an extended period of internalising his actions as your problem, you do some self-work and decide to establish healthy boundaries for you so that he is no longer able to impact on your peace of mind and disrupt your life.


You recognise that this is his concept of what being a father is, but it’s not a healthy concept, nor is it the only representation of what a father is.


You also recognise that you are his daughter/son but that you are also an adult and as such, the boundaries that exist between you need to reflect this, even if it is only from your side. You recognise the issues that he has and accept him for who he is but you also make you aware of what healthier boundaries are so that you don’t keep thinking that this (his way) is the only version of a relationship. When thoughts pop up where your inner critic is trying to guilt you into doing his bidding, you lovingly intervene and correct you. You make yourself aware of all of his typical habits including keywords and phrases, typical situations, signs that you’ve come to recognise are a prelude to his shenanigans, and you figure out a way to not be exposed to or drawn into this stuff as well as how to limit the impact of it.


You can have a healthy relationship with someone by having a healthy attitude about them.


It’s recognising and honouring the fact that you’re two individual entities, that they’re not the boss of you and that they only have as much power as you afford them.
It doesn’t mean that you mutually relate to each other healthily, but from your end of things, you respect you and them with healthy boundaries even if they don’t have the nous, empathy or even character to do the same back.


We must honour our boundaries whether we have the other person’s cooperation or not, respectfully and with compassion. Blaming others for you not having boundaries by not adjusting and taking care of you and instead waiting on them to change or trying to make them change or see your way (remember— boundaries are two-fold), is the fastest way to ensure that nothing improves for you. Recognising your boundaries means that it doesn’t have to get to the point of eruption, imploding or despair. You feel less invaded, less imposed upon, less victimised and less drained.


  • Don’t let the fact that someone else doesn’t have good boundaries or integrity get in the way of you having boundaries and integrity for you.
  • Stop judging you for who other people aren’t. Accept you and accept them. Acceptance does not mean liking or agreeing with the way that they go about things, but it respects the truth of who they are instead of judging you or judging them. Mistreating you because someone else is coming from a different level of awareness to you just isn’t fair or kind.
  • If you’re thinking about things in terms of superiority or inferiority, you’re judging, and that’s going to get in the way of you being boundaried. You can’t be compassionate, and actually, you just can’t have the perspective to do right by you and the interaction in a healthy manner.
  • Judge the situation. Positively learn from it and express it with healthy boundaries.
  • Remember that a person who doesn’t really respect boundaries idea of what’s ‘right’ for a situation or what they think that they can expect or even demand from you, is very different to that of someone with a healthier attitude.
  • The right/healthy/compassionate thing to do for a situation is not always going to be what the other person or even you want. E.g. They want you to do something unfair and unreasonable. The best thing that you can do is decline. They experience the natural consequences from that interaction and also experience boundaries, and you effectively stay in your lane. It’s a shift in energy and without getting all woo woo, they experience a more appropriate response and even the karma.
  • Sometimes all that somebody needs out of a situation is a clear no. 
  • It’s all too easy to spend our time lecturing people about what we feel that they should do differently, but if we focus on being us, we communicate through the way in which we treat ourselves, what is and isn’t permissible for us. We learn something, and they learn something even if it’s not apparent to us (or them) at the time.
  • If you want to feel less put-upon, resentful, victimised and you don’t want to erupt at people or meltdown behind the scenes, be boundaried. You will stop feeling as if the power is out of your hands for you to feel better about a situation.
  • But remember, in having a healthy attitude, you would not choose to continue to be in a relationship with somebody who is trying to demean or brutalise you in any way.

JOURNALING: Look at the example I gave about the father who doesn’t respect boundaries and apply it to somebody who you have at times blamed yourself for their lack of boundaries. Start by acknowledging in a few sentences, what it is that he/she does that oversteps your boundaries. Acknowledge what their concept of the type of relationship they’re having with you and acknowledge yours. Focus more on what you want out of a relationship – e.g. love, care, trust, respect, to be heard – rather than focusing on what you don’t want. Acknowledge the issues that this person has that get in the way of them being on the same page as you.

TASK: List this person’s phrases and keywords, typical scenarios with them, and what you’ve come to recognise as the signs that spell trouble. Start thinking about ways in which you can limit their impact. e.g. Things that you can say to you when your inner critic pipes up, things that you can say to the person, ways in which you can be less open to the stuff on the list.

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