We often hear people talk about boundaries and having good boundaries. However in this age of entitlement boundaries have come to represent a demand by someone to get their own way or to have control over others, rather than a way of being safe in relationships.
Henry Cloud wrote a very good book called`Changes that Heal’ that also includes information on boundaries. He says boundaries are about knowing we are a different separate person from the other. It’s about being responsible for ourselves. That is, owning our own feelings, thoughts, attitudes, abilities, desires and choices. It’s knowing which ones belong to us and which ones belong to others. Our feelings, good or bad are our own responsibility and other people, theirs. We need to choose to be sensitive to others feelings but never take responsibility for them.
When we don’t have good boundaries people can simply cut across us, make choices for us, and control our lives. Our unclear boundaries mean that we can also cross over their boundaries making choices for them and trying to control their lives.
Henry Cloud says “the results of a failure to set boundaries are many” and impact every area of our lives. For boundaries to be effective they should be flexible and negotiable between the two people, not impenetrable brick walls.
To be able to set good boundaries we need self awareness and good self definition and self esteem. These things don’t always come easily and require us to work on the things that hold us back.
Prepared by Lyn Abery July 2018
Changes That Heal; How to Understand Your Past to Ensure a Healthier Future. Dr Henry Cloud, Zondervan, 1992