Boundaries: Difficult to say no?

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We’ve all been there at some point or another. When a friend asks us to look after the kids for a little while longer, we oblige, lest we not appear supportive. When a colleague begs you to help them finish a report just as you’re about to walk out the office for the day, you agree, again. Or, when a romantic partner verbally acosts you at the end of a night’s binge-drinking, you forgive and do all you can to keep the peace; to appease the raging beast. But, why is it so difficult to stand up for ourselves and say no?

In their powerful book called “Boundaries” (1992), Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend maintain that “having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. Boundaries define who we are, and who we are not.”

They further explain that boundaries affect all areas of our lives and break them down for us neatly:

  • Physical boundaries – who may touch us, how, and when
  • Mental boundaries – our freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions
  • Emotional boundaries – helping us identify and deal with our own emotions and shut off the manipulative emotions of others
  • Spiritual boundaries – helping us distinguish our Creator’s will from our own, and who or what we are willing to allow in, spiritually.

For many, it is truly difficult to set boundaries for themselves. And, the mere thought of attempting to do so, often elicits intense fear; fear of abandonment and fear of rejection. And, in particular, setting boundaries for oneself can be extremely difficult if your childhood was riddled with experiences where your personal boundaries were breached, causing long term emotional and spiritual damage. 

Exploitation by another – whether verbal, physical, emotional or sexual – leaves the victim in a state of helplessness as it attacks, and severely damages, the character structure of the child who, in turn, grows into an adult with deep emotional wounds and trust issues. These traumas lead the victim to feel that their time, resources and body are available to others at length, whenever asked of them. 

Sadly, this trauma unsuspectingly creeps in and ultimately sabotages personal, romantic and even professional relationships later in life. Until, insight and healing – which comes in many different forms – are introduced and actively cultivated, at one’s own pace.  

So, are you ready to take up the reins of your runaway chariot? Empowerment can be achieved by connecting with an expert counselor, where you can safely and confidentially, dig in deeper, gain some answers, and be led back to your purposeful path, confidently.

You are worth it.