How to Maintain Proper Boundaries: Knowing When Enough is Enough
Most of my life has been about bonds... or the lack there of. If you look at any one person's life, they have family, friends, enemies, etc. And something I lacked was boundaries in those bonds. We all seek some type of love, acceptance, or validation from the people around us, but sometimes in order to get that, we forget about our boundaries and that gets us stuck in a sticky situation. For me, I highlight a lot of my struggles with relationships in My Chaotic Life: Part One, but I intend on going more in-depth down the road.
These are a few lessons I learned to maintain healthy relationships that have a good balance of give and take when it came to quality time, effort, and care.
1. You have to decide what is unacceptable, before you know what is acceptable.
You can't decide what is acceptable behavior from family and friends as you go. I can assure you that it is not a case by case basis. You have to set some ground rules for yourself to never break. You have to decide, not what you're willing to tolerate, but what you are capable to tolerate. You cannot loan somebody 20 dollars if all you have is 20 dollars. You probably shouldn't loan anybody money unless you can pay all your bills....twice. It doesn't feel right to say no, I know that. But that's what boundaries are for. It's preset rules so your moral compass doesn't freak out when someone calls you needing something that you probably can't provide. You CAN'T always be the hero. I had to learn this the hard way.
2. You have to hold people accountable, always.
You can't allow people to pass judgement when you are respecting the preset boundaries you have. You don't have obligations to anyone except yourself. If you decided that you can't provide something to literally everyone all the time, then you have to cut it. Because look, 20 dollars isn't a lot to some people. But when I give one person 20 dollars, the next week I swear 5 more people need 20 dollars. Look, I don't have 100 dollars to give out every few days, so guess what? I don't give out money. Literally ever.
So how do we hold them accountable? Maybe your boundary is that you don't ever give cash, but you are willing to walk in the phone place and help out with a phone bill instead. If the person doesn't vibe with that and argues for cash? Cut them off and say no because that was the preset rule that you made with yourself. If they get mad, express how you feel, draw the line, and move on.
3. You have to follow through.
Follow through is probably one of the most important things to remember about your boundaries. First, you need to follow through on the preset boundaries you have and DO NOT go against them. Then, you need to have follow through when holding people accountable because to be honest, if you don't, they will keep abusing you. If you give people an inch, they go the whole mile. And lastly, you need to follow through if someone threatens your relationship. Relationships aren't about giving and taking materialistic things. You shouldn't be blackmailed into giving money or borrowing your car to someone, or anything like that. That shouldn't cost you a relationship.
4. You have to let people take out the garbage for you.
I've come to find in most of my now ended relationships, my so-called "friends" did me a favor by ending the relationship. Relationships go both ways when it comes to quality time and you BOTH have to groom your relationship and show that you put effort to it and show that you care. It's one of the hardest lessons you could learn moving away from your home-town or family, especially when you're in the military. I have literally flown across the world just for a "friend" to not be willing to make a 10 minute drive to see me. At some point in time you have to recognize that a friendship is ending. If you can truly say you did your part and they are the reason it's failing, just let them end the relationship when they give you the "this is your fault" lecture. Why do you care? I would much rather have family and friends where the love and quality time comes from each individual evenly. So, let me put my effort into the real ones while you take the garbage out for me. Thanks, Bye.
5. You have to remember that loving people doesn't always involve an "unbreakable bond".
You can love people from afar. At some point you have to take care of yourself. If you don't already have a family of your own, I can understand where that can be difficult. But I know some of you can admit that you have friends that treat you better than family. Choose where to place your energy! You can love people for being a part of your big picture, but at the end of the day, loving someone doesn't guarantee that there is some unbreakable force between you. You can distance yourself from people when they don't respect your boundaries and continue to love them, that's what boundaries are for! And for those of you with families of you own and kids? You should try to set an example for your kids so they can set boundaries for themselves later in life as well. The main point here is, just because you love someone in your heart of hearts, doesn't mean there is an unbreakable bond you have to abide by. You can love people, but don't wait around too long hoping you'll be loved back the right way. Draw the line somewhere and know when to take a step back.
I understand that these tips may not apply to everyone and I also understand that some people just don't have the heart to do these things because their priorities are different. But I challenge you to love yourself above all else. Make a change! It's time that people realize you can't just get what you want from people without hard work.
Let me know if you have anything to add; I've been loving how much people reach out to me! Happy New Year, be safe, and take care of you heart this year.