Do you have boundaries?
Do you know what they are and why you need them? If not, you’re not alone, and it’s time to get some. If you do, it’s time to polish them up so they’re crystal clear, because boundaries are the invisible shield that can protect you from unscrupulous people.
If you read the comments on this website, you’ll see a tremendous amount of courage, strength, and hope amidst the despair. But there is also a disconcerting theme woven through, a theme of self-blame and self-doubt.
So many of us walk around each day with no real sense of our true worth or our value, or who to give our trust to, or what our basic rights are as human beings (there’s a list of those below). As a result, we see the skewed image of ourselves reflected in the eyes of those to whom we give our power, and we mistake it for the truth.
“The BEST Manual on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim again… I am going to recommend it to the facilitators in the divorce support group I am attending.”
“My eyes have seen the light. How I wish I would have read this book years ago.”
“”Worth your time! Well written, clear, and concise. So thankful I came across this quick, but powerful read. I so appreciate the wisdom I found in this writing. I feel empowered once more! Easily rated at 5 stars.”
I decided to write this post as I was talking about boundaries with a reader the other day. She said she didn’t want to have any of those, because she believed they were barriers that keep people out, preventing close relationships and intimacy. Actually, they are quite the opposite! Boundaries are not barriers… at least not to the kind of people you want to have or to keep in your life.
What exactly are boundaries?
Anne Katherine, M.A., author of Where To Draw the Line, describes boundaries as limits you set to protect the integrity of your day, your energy and spirit, your home, your money, your health, your children, your priorities, the health of your relationships, and the pursuits of your heart. Boundaries are invisible, and are held in place by your decisions and actions. Think of them as a membrane that lets positive things in and keeps negative things out. Boundaries keep you intact.
Are boundaries guaranteed to keep your life free from psychopaths and other manipulative people? No, but they give you a real chance, especially knowing what you know now.
A word of warning: If you’re involved with a dangerous person who seems capable of violence, the only boundaries that will keep you safe are physical boundaries, meaning actual geographic distance between you and that person. If you start setting verbal boundaries with a dangerous person, they may see it as a challenge to be defeated. Consider the risk before taking any action. Physical boundaries may be your only choice in this situation.
The subject of boundaries is a big one, so I’m dividing this post into separate parts. I will end Part One here with a list of your basic human rights. It’s a good reminder, since they often get trampled or forgotten along the way. These rights are the foundation of your boundaries.
- I have the right to have my needs and feelings be as important as anyone else’s.
- I have the right to experience and express my feelings, if I choose to do so.
- I have the right to not be responsible for the feelings of another.
- I have the right to express my opinions, if I choose to do so.
- I have the right to set my own priorities.
- I have the right to establish independence if I choose to.
- I have the right to decide how I spend my time.
- I have the right to choose my own lifestyle.
- I have the right to change my lifestyle, myself, my behaviors, my values, my life situation, and my mind.
- I have the right to make honest mistakes and to admit those mistakes without feeling humiliated.
- I have the right to self-fulfillment through my own talents and interests.
- I have the right to grow as a person and to accept new challenges.
- I have the right to choose who I spend my time with and who I share my body with.
- I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect in all my relationships.
- I have the right to be listened to respectfully.
- I have the right to ask for what I want assertively.
- I have the right to say “I don’t understand” or “I don’t know” without feeling or being humiliated.
- I have the right to say “No,” and to set limits and boundaries without feeling guilty.
- I have the right to set limits on how I will be treated in relationships.
- I have the right to expect my boundaries to be respected.
- I have the right to walk away from toxic or abusive relationships.
- I have the right to have these Basic Human Rights and to stand up for them.
(List of rights from Serenity Online Therapy)
♥ If you have been involved with a psychopath, do you feel that clear boundaries could help protect you in the future? Did you already have good boundaries, but find you were victimized anyway? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment!