Before getting too settled into our lounge chairs, Tisiola invited us all up onto the floor to enjoy a dance with ourselves to some lovely Tongan music, segwaying into the evening’s topic for discussion; Healthy Boundaries.
As she commented when we returned to our seats, we were all perfectly at ease dancing by ourselves, in the company of the group, because we were aware of our own space. Much like the dance of life, where we interact with those around us, and we either do it in such a way that it is healthy to ourselves, or not. All because we have, or have not set up the boundaries for the dance, prior to our participation.
So before getting into it, what are we talking about when we say boundaries?
Well, simply put, it is the invisible line where your responsibility ends, and another person’s begins. And it’s knowing where this line is, that often helps you to identify, where the responsibility for someone else’s behaviour lies, which they often need to experience in order to grow and learn from.
It’s that line, which all too often we neglect to draw, which prevents us from taking care of ourselves properly. You know how it goes, we let people do things, or ask things of us, that we’re not really ok with and then we become resentful, instead of being loving and generous. All because we either don’t think about it until later, or we like to please people, and want them to like us, so we take what we regard as the easy way out.
But it’s not the easy way out in the long-term. Far from it. It can be very unhealthy and debilitating, both physically, mentally, and emotionally. Not to mention crippling, for healthy relationships.
On the flip- side, setting healthy boundaries is not always easy either, but it is probably the key to self-loving, and just as importantly, loving kindness toward others. For the sustainability of any meaningful relationship, setting healthy boundaries is a must. They are not divisive, they bring about true respect. For ourselves, and others.
Tisiola suggests “5 Steps for Building Healthy Boundaries.”
#1 Respect: First and foremost, respect yourself, enough, to say, this is where I draw the line. This also teaches others to respect you too.
#2 Know what you want - and don’t want: Be very clear about this with yourself. You need to know your core values before you can even begin to decide what your boundaries are.
#3 Trust: When this is violated, we begin to doubt ourselves and our values, and then our boundaries begin to crumble. So be very aware of who you share your precious story with, and remember that authentic connections must be a two- way relationship.
#4 Responsibility: Know that you alone, are responsible for setting up and maintaining your boundaries. In other words, the buck stops with you. No blame game here.
#5 Accountability: Although it is up to you to accept full responsibility for your boundaries, it is good to also have someone to lovingly encourage you and keep you accountable.
And perhaps as a footnote, on the subject of healthy boundaries, be kind to yourself. Like the rest of the world, there will be times, when your boundaries will be stretched, wobbly, breached even, but that’s ok. As long as you’ve set them, rather than just settling for whatever is on offer, because healthy boundaries help you, and perhaps even those around you, to grow.
And the other wonderful thing about building healthy boundaries, is that unlike real estate, they cost nothing to erect, you have lifetime ownership, and the dividends are priceless.
Toodle-pip, I’m off to do some building,