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Building Boundaries

Boundaries aren’t hard for you (us) because there is something inherently wrong with you; boundaries are hard because of what happened to you (us). Did that grab your attention? Good, that was the intention. This line usually stops people in their tracks whenever I post on social media or drop it within conversation in my therapy room. We are conditioned to believe that boundaries are hard because there is something wrong with us “if only I could just say yes more or no more, or no thank you, or please stop interrupting me, or that is not ok for me, or I have an idea/solution for that, everything would be better. I think the intention of this message is to keep certain people (most often women) small, silenced, distracted, and occupying as little space as possible. Think about it, if someone is celebrated, martyred, and conditioned to remain silent, distracted, and small coupled with the message that they are indeed the problem, then the actual problem goes largely unnoticed and continues to divide and conquer. The tricky tactics of the actual problem include people pleasing, conflict avoidance, care taking, compliance, active pleasing, and merging (when you try to be the same as a partner or a special person, assuming their interests, lifestyle, and life path even when it doesn’t fit with your own). With one clear goal in mind, the actual problem requires us to believe the illusion, the hustle, that if we just do these things (like people pleasing, being a yes person, and avoid conflict) we will someday, someday be worthy of love, belonging, and connection. … I see you.

To the onlooker it would be easy to suggest that one simply “just walk away from the things that aren’t serving you” “to just say no to the things and people that aren’t aligned”. Yet, when you’ve been conditioned to understand that your worth, purpose, value, and ability to be loved and accepted is tied to how much you serve and attend to others OR you’ve been told to be quiet, go along with everything without question and that you are fine – asserting boundaries as the sole answer to the problem can feel like a monumental threat to your sense of belonging… I see you.

The answer (s) is typically lurking in the grey, within the nuances of our stories. Throughout our life, our personal experiences become our personal stories and we give these stories meaning which help shape our identity. These stories are found in the things we have lived, survived, and remained resilient through. It is critically important to bring those stories back to centre stage; doing so may bring about a greater sense of self compassion and grace – two things that you are worthy of increasing. A by-product of this exploration is coming to a greater understanding as to why something like people pleasing or saying yes made sense during this storyline and/or why it is just not making as much sense within your present storyline… I see you.

You are not weak or incapable when it comes to boundaries, these old scripts are incredibly hard to detach from. Offer yourself kindness, start low, and go slow.



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