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Are Boundaries Important Or Necessary In A Relationship?
We were having a very spirited conversation about what we each considered to be boundaries. We thought this would be a great opportunity to speak about, are boundaries important or even necessary in a relationship? Going past there, what is the effect of boundaries on a relationship?
We are speaking about boundaries. I’d like you to think about what does that mean to you? Do you have a boundary that you set anywhere in your life? Boundaries happen across the board. Some people might even call or associate boundaries with values. In other words, what are you committed to? What’s your statement for life? If somebody seems to trample on, that means that you may step up and put up that stop sign. When we’re talking about relationships and boundaries, what we are speaking about is, what is your line in the sand? Where is it that you’re okay and where are you not okay? Where is it that something is happening and you’re all done? You’re all done so the boundary comes up.
Let me help you understand that when you have a boundary, it’s because there’s always an underlying fear. There’s always a sense of needing to protect oneself. That’s not good, bad, right or wrong. Most people would say it’s smart to be able to do that because you don’t want to stand in front of the truck. On the other hand, when you have boundaries, there’s a part of you that isn’t open, not in the flow, not safe or in a trusting space. That means that there’s going to be a little bit or maybe more of a disparity or a separation between the two people that are in a relationship, not only in a romantic relationship or any other kind of relationship.
What you’re saying is that a boundary is a way to keep control and to protect yourself. It’s an aspect of control because something doesn’t feel safe or doesn’t feel that you’re willing to go to a particular place.
That’s accurate and the piece you brought up about control is very powerful and very astute because when we set boundaries, we are stepping into a control place. Whenever we are attempting to control or controlling, it’s because we’re coming from a fear place. As a little side here, every once in a while, you all notice that I’d take a little off ramp when I’m on the freeway. The off-ramp around this is that whenever you noticed that you are irritable and you’re trying to get people to do what you would want them to do, observe that and then go a little deeper and say, “What am I afraid of right here?” You will find the more introspective you allow yourself to be, the more powerfully you will start to recognize what fears are ruling your life through your ego or your personality. That’s a little off the ramp aside. Back on the freeway, we’re talking about the whole experience of protecting oneself and being in control so you don’t have to deal with it again. It’s like, “Here’s my line in the sand.”
For example, I say that I didn’t have any lines in the sand but I do. What’s important is that you call a spade a spade. That means that you’re completely authentic and you tell the truth. One of my lines in the sand is, “No smoking.” I wouldn’t date when I was single and I will not be with somebody who smokes. It’s not something that I choose to be around. Some people can say that I’m very controlling about that. Another form of looking at it, you can say that I’m setting a boundary for myself. From another perspective, it could be like, “She’s clear about what works in her life.” Everything is going to be perceptual. From what perception are you going to look at anything that is happening? I’ve known people who want to be so spiritually astute. They let people walk all over them and they think that it’s turn the other cheek thing. I’m not that way. I do not turn another cheek. I’m not saying that whether you do or whether you don’t is important. I’m always going to go back to being aware because when you’re aware, you can make a decision whether you want to set a boundary about that or not.
Are they necessary and important? Sometimes they’re necessary and sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they’re important and sometimes they aren’t. The boundaries are within yourself. Where are your personal boundaries? Before you start setting up boundaries “against other people” or around other people, take a look and see where that’s coming from. Why do you need to set up a boundary? For the smoking, I have a boundary up around that says, “I don’t like the way it smells. I don’t like the feeling around it on people’s clothes, on their breath, on their body and all of that.” That’s a personal preference.
I also have another underlying belief that secondhand smoke is not our friend. I don’t want to breathe in secondhand smoke no matter what. That’s what’s going on with me. This personal vulnerable self-inspection is something that helps me be clear. If you understand and go with one of the main human principles of life or spiritual principle, you can live your life from this perspective. There is no right, there is no wrong, it’s just is. What that means is that it doesn’t matter. If you’re good with smoking, be good with smoking. If you’re not good with smoking, be no good with smoking. You get to decide because there isn’t a right or wrong way. We all have this individuality where we get to decide where we want to set our boundaries, what works for us and what doesn’t work for us.
Your example of smoking is physical, it’s health and it’s substantiated or well-documented to many people. When does that become your control issue or your love of self-issue? When do you get to the line of, “I’m doing this because I need to protect myself? I love myself. Even though I love you, I’m not going to subject myself to what I consider to be dangerous.” Is it control? Is it love of self? How does one fair those issues out?
You understand that you have your own belief systems. Your own belief systems are determining how you live, how you perceive and how you be in life. In my example, I know what my belief systems are. I know what works for me and what doesn’t work for me. Therefore, I’m taking care of me. I’m loving myself in this situation. Whether there was medical proof, scientific proof or any of that stuff, I don’t care. It means nothing to me. What’s important to me is the way I feel when I am with something. If you want to label that controlling, you can. For me, it’s taking care of myself and living in a universe that is filled with me loving my life and living in a true state of happiness. Here’s the bottom line. If you go with the principle that there is no right and there is no wrong, it just is, you’re living at a very high core universal understanding. If you say there is right, there is wrong and there are all these things, then you’re living more at a humanistic level.When you're aware, you can make a decision whether you want to set a boundary or not. Click To Tweet
Does that mean I don’t follow the law or do what it is that supports me in being available and supportive of society? No, it doesn’t mean that. There’s a very big difference between stopping at the stop sign, stopping at a red light and not throwing glass bottles to people on the street or whatever. Those are things that I feel are important because we are a collective tribe of people with a gazillion different ideas and ways that we think things ought to be. The more that you can allow things to be the way they are, the more empowered you and the rest of the world will be. If you see something occurring that in your own personal world doesn’t work, then you have a right to change your perception about it and remove yourself from the circumstances that are not supportive of you staying in your good humor.
Maybe it would be a little easier to look at a situation where one partner who is abusing the other either emotionally or physically. That’s a much clearer situation and yet, many people will not create that boundary because of other perceived compelling reasons.
This always comes back to your own perceptions. I personally am not big on abuse of any kind and I have certain thoughts around that. I’m clear that those are my thoughts. There are other people that think that some of the things that occur in their relationship or in their tribe or in their world are perfectly okay. It’s not my job to go out there and make other people think as I do. I am in a place where I can monitor and I can allow for my life to live within the realm of what it is that I would like. I’ve had many clients like this that come to me and they say, “He’s hitting me.” It’s usually the husband abusing the wife, although it can be the other way. From where it is that I sit, that is not something that would work in my life. I’m clear that I have a specific feeling about that. If somebody is asking me for my feeling about that, I would share with them what it is that my feeling is like, “What about being beaten up is valuable for you? What’s your payoff for being beaten up? What’s the value of you feeling less than being in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain?” I would encourage them to look introspectively at what’s going on with that.
There are many deep and complex reasons that people do things that they do. People will many times go back to being abused over and over again because they feel that’s what they are worthy of receiving. If you feel that you deserve to be abused, then you will have somebody in your life that will be abusive. Even though you know intellectually that you would want to get away, you will keep going back over and over again rationalizing and doing whatever it is you need to do to stay there. In a very deep core unconscious way, you feel that the best you can do is be with somebody who attacks you. There’s a little bit of a distorted thing and belief in there that says that attack or that abuse is a way of showing love. Many people grow up thinking that abuse and nasty vocabulary, denigrating comments, they will equate that with love.
Children in their innocence see their parents together. They see the way they interact and then they use that as a model. That must be what love is. If you ever look at any statistics, you will see that people will go back to the abusive relationship nine times out of ten. In addition to that, people that grew up in an abusive relationship will be abusive or be abused themselves. It’s a very high percentage of that occurring as well. The bottom line is, we become imprinted with what we grow up with and then we think that that’s the way life is. It’s hard to question that when you’ve never had anybody give you even the possibility that there’s another option.
This is a universal question. I’ve seen it also many times. Someone has been in an abusive relationship where someone is in a situation where they come to us and say, “Should I stay or should I go? Should I stay in this relationship? Do you think I can make a change? Do you think that it’s salvageable?” What do you say to people like that? When there’s an abusive situation and were wishing that something will be different, what are the odds or what’s the practicality of staying in that situation? The boundary that I would have perceived would be someone who’s being abused say, “If you do that one more time, I’m out of here.” That’s a boundary. You can’t cross that. You can’t do that. What is the value of doing that and does that even work?
Creating that boundary is something that is very valuable. The majority of people do not follow through with that boundary because the payoff for being abused is bigger than their fear of going over and starting new and fresh by themselves. They have to deal with abandonment issues. They have to deal with, “Am I capable?” They have to deal with so much self-doubt that they will go back to the person who was abusive because having something was better than having nothing. Yet, if you set a boundary and you follow through, then that is awesome. It just doesn’t happen as frequently as it could.
The flip side of that is how often is a boundary effective? Does one person adhere to someone saying, “You can’t do this anymore,” and that behavior stops? Is that even a realistic thought?
I am going to give you my personal experience. In my experience, a good 95% of the time when you set a boundary, if the person breaks it once and the person who set the boundary acquiesce and says, “We’re going to let it go one more time,” it will always be repeated. The boundary will be broken and walked over each time because the other person knows that they can get away with it. Setting a boundary is important. Giving somebody a heads up is important because people then do have the option. If you are not going to follow through with that boundary, then you’re not going to get anything to be long-lasting. If you don’t communicate about what’s going on with you, it is difficult for the partner. I’ll give you an example. Here are these two people. They’re married and they’re in love. After a period of however many years, he doesn’t have a very stable emotional state. He flies off the handle and gets angry a lot. Although he never did or would hit the wife, she felt emotionally, mentally and verbally abused a lot.
The tantrums that he would throw never hurt her but caused her a tremendous amount of stress and a lack of safety and letting her guard down. Instead of saying, “If this behavior does not shift, I will be leaving,” at least having a conversation and say, “When you put your hand through a wall or you’re screaming about this or that, it activates such a fear inside of me. It’s amazing, but I do not feel safe. I was wondering, ‘What can we do to resolve that?”’ Depending upon the awareness of the person, they’ll either say, “That’s your problem. Figure it out,” or they’ll say, “I didn’t realize this was such a big deal to you.” Something may be able to be worked out. What is important is that you want to reach out and either speak to the person about it or set a boundary about it. If it continues again, then I’m all done. I don’t need to keep doing this because invariably, it will continue over and over again.There is no right and there is no wrong. It just is. Click To Tweet
The example you gave was predicated on a fairly traumatic abusive situation. What about a situation where there’s a couple and one of the partners or parents even does it to the child and continually puts the other person down, makes fun of them or denigrates them? It’s not an Earth-shattering safety thing, but it’s emotionally traumatic and emotionally troubling.
Before we go there, I wanted to finish up the other story in which the person did not communicate. One day the husband came home and all of her things were packed and everything was gone, including her and the children. She never gave him an opportunity to do something different. He may or may not have, but her line in the sand got hit and she was out of there. In her own mind, she set a boundary and when that boundary was crossed, she said, “I’m all done.” She never communicated with him so he never had a chance. Sometimes people do the things that they do because they are unconscious. They don’t recognize that they are being the way that they are because they don’t have that level of awareness. If you bring that level of awareness to them and they continue to do it, that’s your clue.
That example is very similar to where I was going. I know that particular situation that you’re speaking about. There wasn’t physical abuse there. It was mostly emotional abuse and those small things that build big walls. In that particular case, there was no communication. If one doesn’t have a boundary and lets those walls get thicker and thicker, then there’s no hope for any reconciliation or repairing of the damage. If one partner doesn’t attend to those situations that are not as “blatant” where the other partner might not even be aware and allows them to continue, all those little things become a big thing.
There’s a term I use, “A lot of littles make a big.” This is what happened in this situation. It would be one smart aleck remark from him and then it would be some denigrating thing or some tone of voice over and over again for several years until finally the ice cracked and everybody fell in.
It becomes even more damaging if it’s a parent-child relationship.
This is a rough one for many people because when you have a parent that is denigrating, difficult and unkind, it’s because they feel that way inside. That’s one thing. The child doesn’t know or understand that. A child is exposed to that and is taught that they are worthless and they are not enough. They are not loved and they’re not lovable and all of those things happen. I would venture to say that it happens in eight out of ten homes. I know that it’s a lot. From people that have children that are ten years old or older, all the way up into the age of us, it is something that when we grow up with a certain amount of input over and over again, we think it’s real. We take it on as our way of life, our way of living and our way of believing that that’s what so and that means that it’s not as easy as it could be if it were taught a lot earlier. For those of you that are parents and even adult children, stay aware of how you speak to your children.
Be aware of how you speak to other people. What is your tone of voice like? What words are you using? Are you making that person or that child wrong? Are you making them feel embarrassed or inadequate? Are you comparing them to someone else, perhaps a sibling or another person that you know? Are you patient, kind, loving and open-hearted when they don’t do everything the way that you think it ought to be done? These are things that caused great difficulty in children. They grow up then feeling and thinking that they cannot ever measure up and they’re never going to do it good enough. They become angry, frustrated and sometimes vicious. They become a lot like their parents because that’s been their only example. They turn around and then be abusive to other people, to be denigrating to other people and things of that nature.
With regard to the child, the child is too young, has no awareness and can’t set a boundary. They’re helpless and becomes a punching bag and that becomes even worse. An adult who has some awareness, can set a boundary and can say, “No, I’m not willing to do that,” because there’s some awareness there. If you have children, this is something to be aware of. We were doing a meetup and there were two women in their late 60s, maybe early 70s. They’re still carrying around the trauma, the devastation and the lack of self-worth that they acquired 50 and 60 years ago. It doesn’t go away. The sad part is it affects their entire life, their relationships and everything else. This is all about awareness. All of these, the setting of the boundary and the person who is doing the abusing who gets a boundary set with respect to them or at least has the awareness that there’s an issue, it’s all about being aware. If there’s no awareness, the wall is going to build to the point where it can’t be breached anymore. It will totally and completely be a collapse of the relationship.
Sometimes boundaries are very important and sometimes they are very necessary. If you are with someone who is aware and conscious, you can speak openly and you don’t feel that you need to protect yourself in any way, shape or form to be safe, then boundaries are not a necessity. You feel that you are accepted for who you are and what’s going on. If you’re in a relationship where there’s any abuse, mentally, physically, verbally in any way, shape or form, for you to be the whipping post for someone else’s unresolved issues is silly. There’s no value in that whatsoever. What you have the ability and the choice to do is to set a boundary and tell that person that if you ever hear them say anything that is unkind to you, you will no longer be their friend, then you must follow through with that.
I was coaching someone who had a situation with another woman and the other woman was going off the chain. She wanted to make it all better for her. Yet, every time she was around this person, she would not be accepted at a very high level. I had to ask her, “What’s your payoff for this friendship?” She didn’t know exactly what to say because there’s nothing that is positive about being with somebody who’s constantly bringing things down on you. That’s where it’s important to stay awake and stay aware of what it is that you are feeling and what’s going on inside of yourself. You can make different choices about whom it is that you spend your time with.Your own belief systems are determining how you live, how you perceive, and how you be in life. Click To Tweet
Thank you very much. That was great. If any of you have any follow-up questions or any thoughts on that, please let us know and we’d be happy to address them. What did you think about that conversation? What do you think about the issue of bringing up boundaries?
It’s important that you take care of yourself. If you feel that you are not being treated in a way that is of the highest and most respectful, kind and loving way, then reassess where you’re at or get some help to do that. Recognize that you also have something going on inside of you because that’s why the situation is in front of you is to take a look at that. That’s a very important thing. I do think that the boundaries are important and necessary in some circumstances, but not necessarily in all of them.
We’re going to move now to the section of our show, Ask E. We have a question here, “You talked about intimacy in our relationships. When would you say I should not be open and authentic in my relationship? Is there ever such an occasion?”
There could be. Some people are in a situation where they feel that they’re a hostage in a relationship. They have too much fear to stand up, speak the truth or do anything that would help them be more authentic. They are squelched and they have very low self-esteem. They’re frightened to be able to stand up to somebody who might not be so kind and wonderful. That means that if you are with someone who blows up over something, then those are times that you may not want to share every single little thing with that person. You can be authentic but not volunteer more than what’s necessary for you to communicate at whatever level that you can. You also would be very wise to start thinking about, “What’s the value of me being in this relationship? What am I getting? What’s my payoff? Why do I want to be with somebody that is this way?” Delve into that a little bit because there’s some part that is not okay with itself. That’s the part that needs to be addressed and supported.
If you’re in a situation where you can’t be open, honest and authentic, then most likely or with good probability, you’re in a relationship that’s not in your best interest and maybe you shouldn’t be there.
That is what I’m saying and I do think that speaking about it and being authentic about it, especially if you’re a woman, is an important thing. Find a support coach or counselor or somebody that’s aware, who is really there. You could speak to them about it and allow yourself to be heard. It’s important that you’ll be in a place where you know what it is that you need. You have the courage to set the boundary for it. Even if you know that it’s time for you to release yourself from the relationship, you don’t have to spill the beans about every single thing. Plan for it and when the time is right, you just do it.
Find someone you can speak to, a counselor or whatever, to be able to speak about it, which I’m totally 100% supportive of. If you’re in the situation where all you can do is talk to that person just so you’re feeling better about getting it off your chest, the major deficiency has not been met and that is your inability to talk to your partner and resolve it in some meaningful way. You’ll feel better yourself, but it doesn’t fix the long-term problem and most likely will crop up again.
That is true unless you keep on doing your own personal work. When you get to a certain place, you will be clear that it’s time to leave that person or you’re not going to be at effect of it. It’s a no thing for you anymore.
I’m saying one might consider leaving and what you’re saying is another option, is get to the point where you’re not at effect of it by doing your own personal work.
Doing your own personal work takes a lot of commitment and follow through and things of that nature.We become imprinted with what we grow up with, and then we think that that's the way life is. Click To Tweet
We’re going to move to the next section of our show.
It’s called living in a world of possibilities. This is the rhetorical question part. I’m going to suggest a question for you and the question is going to send the Google mind that you have out into the world and find answers for you. You don’t have to do anything except make the statement and feel as much of it as you can and let it go. When we have situations going on about boundaries and all of those things that we’re creating a sense of separation, what would be the most important thing to do? The most important thing to do is get yourself to a place where you feel safe. When you feel safe, then you’re able to trust. When you’re trusting, your fear is not so prevalent. The question is what would it take for me to always feel safe in my relationship and my life?
We thank the people who have sent us questions and we would like to invite you to do so. Esateys is available if you would like to speak with her on any issues that you have that might be of significance for you. Contact her at Esateys@Esateys.com. When Esateys was talking about the Google search engine, if you weren’t sure what she is speaking about, then go back and read episode number seven, where we talk about the Google search engine. It’s very powerful. It’s one of the most powerful techniques or tools that we use.
Let me know if there’s a specific subject that you would want me to cover. I always love hearing what it is that’s on your mind. I’d love to address it so you feel satisfied and supported.
We’ll see you in the next episode.
Feel a hug, everyone. Until next time.
- Episode Number Seven – Previous episode, How To Access Your Own Google Search Engine
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Author: Esateys Stuchiner
Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.
Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.
Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.
For more information, go to esateys.com.