I first heard about boundaries about a year ago, when I was still seeing a career counselor. We hadn’t really been talking about my career for a while. But it would still be a few weeks before I would stop seeing her and start seeing a therapist whose specialty was more fitting.
Boundaries came up in the context of my family and food.
I had just stopped dieting not long before that conversation, and as I told my counselor some things that worried me about seeing my family in this new context, she explained to me that I need to set clear boundaries with my family. I need to tell them what I’m ok with their commenting on, and what is off limits for them.
I was astounded.
You see, I was brought up in a family with very few boundaries. I believed that if you love someone, there shouldn’t be any boundaries. I believed that wholeheartedly.
If you’re someone with healthy boundaries, you’re probably shaking your head right now.
If you are someone like I was, you’re either rejecting this notion all together or a light bulb just went off in your head.
I’ve been spending a lot of this year building boundaries with people. With my family, with my friends, with my therapist, and my coworkers. Sometimes I am more successful than others. But it’s been immensely freeing to be able to say no to people. That’s really all a boundary is at the end of the day. It’s a no. It’s a line that says I need you to respect my space on this topic.
A year ago I was convinced that needing boundaries meant I didn’t love someone fully. Now I’m realizing that boundaries just mean I love myself.
If you struggle with boundaries, there is a lot of literature out there on the subject. I read Boundaries by Anne Katherine and would recommend it. I also suggest you seek a therapist.