Living well alongside other people is an art.
Life can be straightforward, but there are often difficulties and challenges to be negotiated along the way! When it comes to interacting with others, it’s important to understand that we all have rights (like the right to be listened to and the right to be treated fairly and with respect), but we all have the associated responsibilities too.
We all live ‘next door’ to other people in different areas of our life and work. This means it’s important to understand how to live well alongside one another – how to be ‘good neighbours’!
As Henry Cloud explains: Boundaries are the often invisible property lines that exist in our relationships, between what ‘belongs’ to you – and what belongs to someone else.
They define things that are ‘yours’, that you have a right to make decisions about, from what appropriately lies with someone else. They separate things you are responsible for – from things that you are not responsible for!
Knowing where the boundaries are – and what belongs where and with who, is a gift.
When we understand our personal boundaries better, we can learn to uphold them more effectively, and this applies to both ourselves and others.
If you’ve ever found yourself; saying ‘Yes’ but thinking ‘No’, or said nothing and let others decide for you (then felt taken advantage of) you’re not alone!
And if you’ve found yourself inappropriately offloading something you are responsible for onto someone else (in a way that didn’t treat them like they had the right to be listened to, treated fairly or with respect) or took something else important away from them, you’re not alone there either!
What happens when boundaries are unclear?
When our boundaries are unclear, it’s easy for them to be violated. When we live as though we don’t have any boundaries, or overstep those we do have, we make it easier for others to overstep them too!
If those around us don’t have, maintain, or communicate clear boundaries either, we can exploit them, without even intending to.
This all has negative consequences, both for our relationships and our wellbeing.
What happens when boundaries are clear?
Being clear, so everyone knows where the boundaries are, frees us to live well together; to value ourselves and others and treat one another (and ourselves) with respect.
Having clear boundaries won’t always stop other people trying to overstep the mark, but it makes it a more intentional action, which can be easier to address.
When we have healthy boundaries and can communicate them clearly, we’re free to make choices and decisions that are right for us – and not have our time, energy, money, or mental or emotional bandwidth taken from us inappropriately by others.
This isn’t always easy.
We may need to re-examine our own rights and responsibilities – and work out where we can be flexible, how we can communicate clearly and when a compromise is needed so that everyone can thrive.
Boundaries which are carefully and respectfully positioned and maintained can help us become healthier and happier – and allow those around us to be healthier and happier too.
If any of this resonates and you’d like to find out more, our Angels Community can help. When you join online, you’ll receive our worksheets and webinar invitations. Each month, we unpack the blog further and you’ll have a chance to ask our team your questions.
This month, we’ll be working on understanding our own personal boundaries better.
In next month’s blog post and inside the Angels Community, we’ll help you explore how to talk about your boundaries clearly and kindly with others, so that everyone can get along and live life to the full.