What are the boundaries?
Personal boundaries are mental, psychological, emotional, and physical walls we build to protect ourselves and if we fail to protect ourselves, we feel used, violated, manipulated, and exploited.
It all starts in our homes. I remember in my home, privacy was not a concept which existed. When I became a teenager, I was not allowed to close the door or keep it locked. This explains everything. If we wanted privacy, we (me and my siblings) were doubted that we were doing something wrong. We eventually did everything that we wanted by finding hidden ways to do them. But that’s not the right way I feel as a parent today. This way we only teach our kids how to manipulate, cheat, and lie.
I remember growing up, specifically when I was in my teenage, I often felt why my parents don’t trust me that I would do the right thing? Why they have to constantly supervise me? I heard many times parents talking between themselves and telling each other that kids don’t know what is right or good for them so they need to keep a check on them. I didn’t believe them at that time and even now as a parent. When we understand that there is nothing bad about making mistakes and learning from them, maybe parents will be more trusting of their kids. After I became a parent myself, I too was feeling concerned about the bad world outside and how it can impact my son. But eventually, I came to terms with accepting that if I trust my upbringing filled with unconditional love and helping my son develop the wisdom to differentiate right and wrong and choose the right thing for himself and others, I don’t need to be worried. It’s important that we tell our kids about the consequences of choosing something good and bad. So incase our children choose something wrong knowing the effects of it, they learn to take responsibility for their actions.
“Boundaries” is a word that is not very commonly understood in the right way in my culture. Often I have seen and experienced saying “NO’ for something is tagged as rude or arrogant, selfish, or nonadjusting.
For example: If some relative, friend, or neighbor offers you some food or drink and you don’t want to have it, and you say no to it, is considered rude and arrogant. It is due to this, people start eating or drinking or doing many things to ensure another person is not offended which causes self-damage. And the same thing kids learn watching their parents doing it. It’s very confusing for young children to differentiate between when to raise an alarm for danger and when to pretend to be well-mannered. By the time they realize (If they realize sometimes), it has already become a habit or they see everyone around them doing the same thing.
“No Means No “is a punchline one a Bollywood movie which had become quite popular some time ago for its message that it wanted to give people. It was about setting boundaries. If a girl says no, it means no. No matter what is the stage where she feels that this is the point she wants to put a stop and says no. But the guy misunderstands it. They feel if the girl has gone so far, then no doesn’t mean no and it’s ok for them to forcefully impose them on her. He gets confused or sometimes he intentionally overrules the no as he behaves in a self-centered and meaningful way. I am sure if the meaning of boundaries were taught to the guy, he would understand that no means no, even if it is in the middle of consensual sex.
Boundaries are not something just for physical, it is also for psychological, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Here is another example: If you are shopping and someone is trying to sell you something and you say no, how do you feel when he continues to sell you forcibly and behaves deaf to your no? Many times people buy just to get rid of the torture as they are not so good in saying no. Later they feel bad about themselves for giving in to the salesperson and buying something that you didn’t want to buy. I often observed myself trying to make strategies mentally how to avoid a section of a store where I have previously felt pressured by salespeople to sell me something. They don’t know that they are not attracting customers but repulsing customers. There would have been a better chance for me to buy something if I don’t feel forced to buy something.
One of my neighbors had a habit of asking for favors. And I was bad at setting boundaries. She used to come to my house at random times and ask for things she liked or needed from my house. When I used to say no to her, she used to continue to ask me again and again for the same thing until I started to feel embarrassed. Eventually, I would give her what she wanted and many of those things were very close to my heart. This would lead me to resent her and also I used to feel bad about myself for not being strong enough to say no to her when she insisted. After feeling used by her many times, I finally decided to give priority to my needs and put a full stop to it forever.
How many times have you experienced saying no to someone(family member, friend, relatives) for food and they insist you have one more piece for their happiness? You end up overeating which sometimes results in gas, acidity, or nauseous. I have definitely decided many times not to visit such people again just because they overfeed. But the point is that they cross boundaries and are unaware of it.
As long as I was unaware of cultures where personal boundaries are respected, I continued to suffer in this world where there is no concept of personal space and boundaries. There are many people still who are unaware of this concept and continue to suffer considering this as a surviving skill in this world and normalizing this toxic behavior.
Some people continue to call you constantly knowing that you have not answered once or twice. Probably they don’t know that if a person has not answered, he can call back seeing your missed call or a message. Sometimes I have answered the call after seeing a person constantly calling assuming that there may be an emergency but to my surprise, it’s just they wanted to say hi. “So why did you need to call ten times continuously?” They don’t know any other way. They never thought that there is something wrong with this type of call.
People feel they have right over other people’s belongings, body, time, and space when they cross boundaries, especially in close relationships like husband and wife, kids and parents, siblings, or even friends. The closer the relationship, the higher the violation of boundaries.
There are many organizations that have started teaching women self-defense for helping them stay safe from rape. It is too extreme an example. Why is there no training on how to respect other people’s boundaries? Be it physical, verbal, emotional. Because rape is a violation of physical boundaries.
Parents feel that they have right over their kids. They continue to invade their space and normalize disrespect to their privacy. They feel that their kids are up to something if they want privacy. The question here is- Why do you feel that way? Why is it that you don’t trust your child? Why do you think that your child can do something wrong when you have given him the education to differentiate between right and wrong and to choose what’s best for them? Why do you not accept mistakes made by your children? Why don’t you encourage your children to learn from mistakes?
So these kids grow up and become the same parents to their children. This is a never-changing cycle. I feel that I can’t change society and go around teaching everyone that you should respect others’ boundaries but what I can do is, I can teach my children the importance of setting boundaries and respecting others’ boundaries by showing them in my behavior.
In order to expect others to respect your boundaries, first, you need to understand if you lack personal boundaries and are allowing others to cross them. Here are some signs which tell you that you lack personal boundaries:
1. If you are mistreated by anyone, you do not stand up for yourself and fail to express your true feelings.
2. You give away too much of your time entertaining others in some meaningless gossip and you regret doing that.
3. You don’t disagree with something just to be included in some group or be accepted by someone.
4. You often feel others take you for granted.
5. You are too much concerned about other’s opinions about you and fear being judged.
6. You share too many details about your life with others.
7. You feel like a victim constantly.
8. You often feel surrounded by dominating and controlling people around you.
9. You suffer from different relationships and often feel used.
10. You feel responsible for other’s unhappiness.
11. You are a people pleaser.
12. You are constantly looking for approval from others.
Having personal boundaries can help you create a healthy self-image of feeling self-respect, self-worth, strong, and confident.
Lack of personal boundaries can make you see yourself as a weak, loser, low self-esteem, self doubt low self-confidence, not good enough in your own eyes.
There are ways to learn how to create personal boundaries. A good therapist can help you in your journey towards creating personal boundaries which can result in your good mental health.
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