Boundaries: The WHY Underneath

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This post first appeared at DarlingMagazine.org. It is part 2 in a series of 3

In my previous article, I merely laid the foundation for a discussion on boundaries, now let’s look deeper at three cornerstones essential to the boundaries in your life.

Boundaries. They sound about as exciting as putting on a straight jacket. Unless you understand the WHY behind them, boundaries seem restrictive, rather than empowering. WHY gives them purpose, lays the foundation for you to build upon, and is what will keep you committed when it’s hard, painful, and you’re ready to throw in the towel.

You have to own this “why,” believe it is the core of who you are, and decide it is worth it for YOU. It is your WHY that you will keep coming back to as your relationships change, as you grow, and as seasons come and go.

There must be three cornerstones to your WHY:

1. YOU have value. Some of you need to sit with that for a while. Seriously. Take a moment and really let that sink in. You were made with a purpose, in this time and place, with your particular gifts and talents, for a reason. You are unique and the world needs you to be fully alive, to be able to give extravagantly, love completely, and live exceptionally. But you cannot do that if you don’t first see yourself for the amazing woman that you are.

Some of you have been told that you don’t matter, that you’re a joke, a waste of a life, or someone no one will ever love. Your story is littered with the footprints of people walking over you on their way through.

*But the truth is, you DO matter. And you deserve to be protected and treated as such. *** As you see yourself, so those around you will begin to view you. Respect yourself and others will respect you. This is why boundaries are so key. They keep you from being taken advantage of, abused, used, forgotten or unwanted. They demand that you be treated as the incredibly beautiful and exceptional woman that you are. But until YOU begin to believe that, no one else will. And boundaries become meaningless, because really, why go to such an effort to guard and protect something that has no value?

2. Time + Emotions= Finite What is that one pair of shoes, way too expensive pair of jeans or special occasion outfit that you are meticulous about keeping in pristine condition? How many hours and dollars have you spent this past month on workouts, specialty foods, and skincare/make-up products in order to keep your body looking and feeling healthy? Now, how many hours have you spent in meaningless, even painful relationships? Your time is not infinite. You have a limited amount, and once you take out the time in a day you spend sleeping, working, eating, and other necessary parts of life…there’s not too much left.

What about your heart? Your soul? Your emotions? We’ve bought into the lie that it’s perfectly normal, even expected, to put your heart through a meat grinder time and again in the pursuit of love. Then we wonder why all we’re left with are broken pieces that become increasingly difficult to but back together.

Both your time and your emotions are costly. You don’t get them back. More than your jeans and Jimmy Choos, you must be diligent about protecting these two intagible parts of yourself. Boundaries will distinguish between what relationships have meaningful potential and what are going to be life-long drains. Be intentional about seeking out and pursuing the former, while deliberately cutting out the later.

3. Relationships are the Color of Life. You and I were meant to be in relationship. To know and be known by others. If you’re reading this, you agree. You cannot be a Confidant without someone confiding in you! Relationships make or break life. Trouble in a relationship clouds everything, even if work is going great, or you have a fantastic apartment and the most amazing shoe collection. But good relationships almost make you forget about the shoe box apartment you live in, the shoestring budget your forced to live on, or the endless table waiting that has become your career.

*You do not, however, build good, healthy, life-giving relationships by accident. They take work. Lots of work. *They require you to be intentional and understanding, to have balance and even sacrifice. Boundaries are the framework upon which you build out the substance and depth that will help you go the distance. They keep your relationship in balance, keep expectations in check and protect both individuals–thereby protecting the relationship as well.

Consider this your 30,000 foot bird’s eye view, as you pull back to look at the big picture. Next week we’ll dive down to the micro level with some practical boundaries that will help you get where you want to go. Until then, establish and believe your WHY!