The Road to Healthy Boundaries
Let me start with a self revelation. Exactly a decade back, there was a girl who I started to like and get drawn to. I started to show my intentions and her first question exploded like a nuclear bomb on the Pacific ocean, creating tremors in my life and shook the very foundations of my bones and my life (Si Jesuuus di ba?) I said I wanted to be more than friends with you. She asked me “What did you hear from God?” Boom!
This antidote feels far from topic but there are specific angles where she stood her ground. For one, she was reading “Boundaries in Dating” by John Townsend and Henry Cloud. 🙂
So what boundaries did she have that I stepped on or planned to? She was clear about: what kind of guy she will allow into her life, that guy should know Jesus personally, that guy knows where he is going and should understand the list of things that are fair when they go into a relationship.
A month back, I was too concerned because I felt someone is going to do a thorough background check on my life. As an obsessive perfectionist, I posted on my wall: “Looking for mentors who can help me set good boundaries.”
It was fruitful. My coaches and LEAP community obliged and lent a had. One of my silly question was, I am a very open guy. If I trust you and you asked me about my sexual life, I’d just answer candidly. In the US or Europe this wouldn’t be a problem. But I live in the Philippines where any question has the bearing of a Boy Abunda Interview, with audiences applause on right answers and demeaning chuckles for wrong answers.
So for those like me who are very straightforward, I managed to find resources you would love to read. The Road to Healthy boundaries.
Some notes. Because of standards of morality and perfection in church, sometimes we get confused about what we really want and what the church culture wants. On the other hand, allowing office superiors and subordinates, family, friends and church mates to disagree without the need for manipulation or guilt-tripping is a good sign. Nevertheless, we can only be responsible for our own boundaries and are not responsible to make decisions or act for even our closest loved ones.
Signs of Healthy Boundaries
- Appropriate trust –taking time to get to know someone, and learning to trust them as you go along
- Testing the waters and appropriate self-disclosure – revealing a little of yourself at a time, then checking to see how the other person responds to your sharing
- Moving step -by – step into intimacy
- Putting a new acquaintanceship on hold until you check for compatibility
- Deciding whether a potential relationship will be good for you
- Staying focused on your own growth and recovery
- Weighing the consequences before acting on sexual impulse
- Being sexual when you want to be sexual
- concentrating on your own pleasure rather than monitoring reactions of your partners
- Clearly communicating your wants and needs
- recognizing that you may be turned down, but knowing that you have the right to ask
- Saying “No” to food, gifts, touch and /or sex you do not want
- Asking a person before touching them
- Respect for others
- not taking advantage of someone’s generosity
- Self respect – not giving too much, and expecting someone can accept that
- Not allowing someone to take advantage of your generosity
- Trusting your own decisions
- Defining your truth. A you see it
- Knowing who you are and what you want
- Recognizing that friends and partners are not mind readers
- Talking to yourself with gentleness – humor, love and respect
- Maintaining personal boundaries despite what others may think
- Noticing when someone else displays inappropriate boundaries
- Noticing when someone invades your boundaries
Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries
- Trusting no one or trusting anyone
- Black and white thinking
- Telling all
- Talking at an intimate level on the first meeting
- Falling in love with anyone who reaches out
- Being overwhelmed or preoccupied with a person
- Acting on the first sexual impulse
- Going against personal values or rights to please others
- Allowing unwanted touch
- Taking as much as you can get for the sake of getting
- Giving as much as you can give for the sake of giving
- Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you
- Letting others direct your life
- Letting others describe your reality
- Believing others can anticipate your needs
- Expecting others to fill your needs automatically
- Falling apart so someone will take care of you
- Abusing yourself
- Being abused by another
- Not noticing when someone else displays inappropriate boundaries
Extreme behavior from people with unhealthy boundaries can be painful. Actions could range from physical, emotional to mental abuse. See the table below.
Life is not about perfection. My life is not perfect. I have tendencies to open up and share my life to people I shouldn’t. I also have a tendency to be harsh and make fun of other people. I have areas of fear where I do not open up to people who I know love me. But what is important is being aware that no matter how bad my awareness is, God has already loved me so much, that my mistakes wont matter and I can pick myself up and correct them. You can also make life work for you!
But having that awareness of yourself and other people is key to avoiding pain of not setting good boundaries. We can always make a mistake in trusting a fool. But if you keep opening up to fools, there is a trend you lack wisdom yourself.