We all must set boundaries in our lives in order to protect ourselves properly but sadly, not everyone is able to do that. Some people for many different reasons struggle with boundaries and keeping them in place where they’re needed.
If you don’t have healthy boundaries in place chances are you allow others to walk all over you and that’s not right. In this life, you should be making your decisions and moving through the world in a way that you see fit. You shouldn’t be forced into things you’re uncomfortable with or trying to please all of the people around you without taking your own wants and needs into consideration.
I have noticed that a lot of people who struggle with boundaries are actually people who went through a lot in their younger years. If your childhood was one that you consider filled with trauma or neglect, chances are you fit that bill. You might be more willing to give in to other people because growing up that was the only way to get by.
Unless you work to change this and grow as a person through working through the trauma you’ve faced, you won’t be able to keep your boundaries in place. The things we go through as kids follow us into adulthood unless we address them and work through them, that much we should all be aware of. If you were raised to think your emotions didn’t matter and forced to do things even when they left you in need, you likely have a bit of a messed up idea of what boundaries are overall.
Boundaries are powerful and can help you protect yourself in some huge ways if you know how to use them properly. They help us keep those who wish to use us at bay and really bring our own needs to the forefront of our minds. While growing up your boundaries were stepped all over, as an adult if you work through the things from your past you can also work to keep your boundaries as in check as they need to be.
Psychology Today wrote as follows on this topic back in 2010 and I felt this was well worth sharing:
Many times abandonment issues are fused with distorted, confused, or undefined personal boundaries. We experience abandonment when parents have a distorted sense of boundaries, their boundaries, and ours. They want us to like what they like, dress like they dress, and feel as they do. If we in any way express differences from our parents, or make different choices than they would, we know we run the risk of rejection.
How many of us attended colleges that our parents chose for us? How many of us married who we did or when we did because that was expected or desired by our parents? Having done what our parents expected, wanted, or demanded does not mean that it was the wrong thing to do. It just means that the decision was never totally ours.
Certainly, many people do exactly what their parents don’t want them to do. Often this is an attempt to be a separate person. We choose to marry the person they would like the least, or simply choose to not attend college at all. It is not the outcome that is the issue as much as it is the decision-making process. Instead of choosing freely, we make a reactive decision-based in anger.
When parents hold children responsible for what should be their responsibility, they are expecting something impossible of a child. In effect, they are telling children that they have more power than they truly have, setting them up to experience futility and inadequacy.
Many times parents develop relationships with their children in which they are their friends, their peers, their equals. In doing so, they share information that is not age-appropriate for a child. Inappropriate information often creates a sense of burden, or even guilt, for children. That is not fair.
When parents are disrespectful of their children’s boundaries and violate them, the message given is that they don’t value the child as a person. That message becomes internalized as “I am not of value. I am not worthy.” When parents don’t acknowledge children’s boundaries, the message they give is “You are here to meet my needs,” and/or “I am more important than you,” and/or “It is not okay to be your own person with individual feelings, desires, or needs.” When children experience chronic abandonment with distorted boundaries, they live in fear and doubt about their worth. The greater the clarity a child has around boundaries, understanding who is responsible for what, and the greater a child’s self-esteem, the more likely a child will be able to reject, rather than internalize, shameful behaviors and messages.
As kids, we have no choice but to allow our parents to step all over our boundaries, and sometimes our parents are toxic and damaging us to a severe degree whether we are aware of it or not. Because we don’t know how to change this, we fall into a cycle. I know, it might sound a bit complicated but working through the things you experienced as a child can help you become a better adult and focus more on yourself as a whole.
Really take the time to consider what you’ve gone through and work to set not only physical boundaries where they’re needed but also emotional and mental boundaries as well. I know, it’s hard to put your own needs first after not doing so for such a long time but you can do it. To learn more on this topic take a look at the video below.