Updated: Jul 14
Boundaries and Values.
What they are? how do we create them?
Sounds like the easiest thing in the world, to start to write about our boundaries and values.
However, we first must understand what we value about ourselves that we must put a boundary there to protect.
So let us explore Values:
So many of us don’t consistently live by our values. Have you ever been in any of these situations?
Someone said or did something that you strongly disagreed with, but you didn’t speak up about it and felt ashamed afterwards.
You set goals for yourself and then failed to meet them.
Your life or career haven’t worked out the way you wanted them to.
What you want often clashes with what you've got to do or what’s “practical.”
You’re so busy pleasing other people that you’re not even sure what your true values are.
Why are Values important to know before we set Boundaries?
I believe we cannot set Boundaries until we truly know what is important to us, at our core.
Personal values are the things that are important to us, the characteristics and behaviours that motivate us and guide our decisions.
For example, maybe you value honesty.
You believe in being honest wherever possible and you think it’s important to say what you think. (that doesn’t mean you have the right to insert your opinion whenever you choose.)
When you don’t speak your truth, you probably feel disappointed in yourself.
Or maybe you value kindness.
You jump at the chance to help other people, and you’re generous in giving your time and resources to worthy causes or friends and family. (that is not the same as allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.)
There are so many other values to consider that makeup who you are.
So, when we live to our values, we WILL have created boundaries for ourselves, and teach others to also respect this part of us.
when we don’t respect our values, it is likely because
· We don’t know what they are.
· We didn’t set boundaries to respect and protect them.
I talk about this all the time with my clients. I ask my clients to tell me what boundaries they have for family, for friends for partners and children.
The majority of clients have non or don’t know what boundaries are.
(Including me when I began on this journey of therapy)
So, I wanted to explore why we struggle to understand boundaries, but also how to put respectful boundaries in place.
Boundaries are fundamentally a guide we have to show others how to treat us, but more importantly, they are a guide to ourselves to treat ourselves with respect and value who we are, when we do this our confidence in our choices rises.
So let us start at the beginning because I believe and my experience has shown me that in general, we don’t teach children how to value and respect themselves because we don’t give them respect and value them.
As parents we tell children what to do, we tell them to behave, be good, do their homework, eat their greens, etc.
But I want you to think of how we do this, do we TELL them that’s what needs to be done? Or do we teach them how to do these things?
For example, if we tell our kids your homework MUST be done, go do it. (my children hated this time of the day, homework time.)
But if we explore this in more detail, the school has told your CHILD to do their homework, when did they call us and say it is your responsibility to ensure your child does their homework, I'm not sure any school has ever done this.
So why are we so insistent? Well, lots of reasons we don’t want them to fall behind, we want them to do well, we know how important education is, it’s a reflection on your parenting if your child doesn’t do it, Mrs Jones’s children always do well, there are lots of reasons we insist and push our children.
So, are we saying we don’t trust our children to want the best for themselves?
TELLING our children what to do diminishes their value because we could be saying or they could presume we are saying kids are too unwise to know they need to do it.
So, it could be perceived by our children, “parents think we are dumb or worse dishonest, I know my homework needs to be done ….”
This is one example of how we DO things AT children and don’t do things WITH them.
Here we are teaching them, they don't know, we know best.
If the child says I have no homework, we generally question this, because when they say they have no homework and we say “show me” but what we are unconsciously saying to the child is you are deceptive or we could be modelling lack of trust in them.
When we show children, they are not trustworthy we are disrespecting them, in a situation where they have no power or redress.
When we, by our actions tell our children they are not trustworthy or to be believed we erode their self-worth and self-value.
This is how we teach people they don’t have a right to challenge, they don’t have a right to value themselves, that they don’t have a right to be respected for their integrity.
When things are being done to children, we start this very early, in infancy.
When we force our babies to eat the lovely baby food we have prepared, (the food we turn our nose up at,) but we say, no it is good for you.
When we are nervous when they start walking and our fears are more important than the children's need to explore, so we just say “NO”
We, of course, must protect children, however, I believe we should do this without having to assert our authority as parents, I believe we would serve our children better if we explain if we discuss if we ask for their views(age-appropriate).
So now we are adults, with the legacy of our childhoods ringing in our ear, I don’t have the right, I don’t have permission, I'm not always believed, so I must pretend.
So, when I ask what boundaries do you have or want in place. The usual ones are:
Don’t shout at me.
Don’t tell lies.
Don’t tell me what to do.
Don’t tell me what to do.
These are just some. But what is interesting no one says , respect me, value me, treat me the way I deserve to be treated.
This is usually because we don’t know how to do that for ourselves.
So, we must know what we want to be treated like before we can start our boundaries.
If you want your partner/family/children/friends/work colleagues to treat you with respect, you need to ask yourself, do you treat yourself with respect?
If you want your partner/family/children/friends/work colleagues. to value you as a kind and loving person, do you value yourself in this way? Do you live this way?
If you are angry/aggressive/withdrawn/disrespectful to others/judgemental of others, it's likely you are not living up to your fundamental values, and you are allowing/enabling others to abuse this.
So, let's explore this, lets see if we can make changes.
1.Name your limits.
You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. So, identify your limits:
Consider what you can accept, what makes you feel uncomfortable or what creates stress. These feelings will help us identify what we are prepared to accept.
2.Be aware of what you’re feeling.
There are usually clues that we’re accepting less than our boundaries, if we feel discomfort and resentment towards someone or something or some situation, we are in this is usually an indicator.
Thinking of these feelings on a continuum from one to 10. Six to 10 is in the higher zone. Where are you on the continuum? How does it feel? What are you going to do about it? Remember we have the gift of choice and responsibility for ourselves.
3.Be clear and assertive.
Without being rude, challenging someone's disrespect of your boundary, first, are they aware this is how you are to be treated?
If you have accepted for instance, that when your partner comes home, they dump their clothes for you to move, and up till now you have, then this is a discussion around changing YOUR behaviour and that you will now be going forward not accept this behaviour from anyone. That is clear and assertive.
4.Permit yourself to feel:
These are big potential pitfalls.
We might fear the other person’s response if we set or assert our boundaries.
We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member.
Again, boundaries are all about recognising your feelings and honouring them.
If you notice yourself slipping and not living by your boundaries ask;
What is the situation eliciting that’s making me resentful or stressed?”
Then, mull over your options:
What am I going to do about the situation?
What do I have control over?”
6.Consider your past and present.
How you were raised along with your role in your family can become additional obstacles in setting and preserving boundaries. Ignoring your own needs might have become the norm for you.
7. Make self-care a priority.
Make self-care a priority, which also involves permitting yourself to put yourself first. When we do this, our need and motivation to set boundaries to become stronger.
8. Seek support.
If you’re having a hard time with boundaries, Counselling, coaching or good friends.
We know that it’s not enough to create boundaries; we must follow through. Even though we know intellectually that people aren’t mind readers, we still expect others to know what hurts us, it’s important to assertively communicate with the other person when they’ve crossed a boundary.
10. Start small.
Like any new skill, assertively communicating your boundaries takes practice.
(Excerpts are taken from: psychcentral.com Written by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. on May 17, 2016)
So, this is where we start to set Boundaries and live by your Values.
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