Self-made boundaries are good. They help you define your values. They help you surround yourself with supportive people. They protect you from unwanted input. They assist you in creating the life you want. Most of all, the boundaries you set for yourself show how much you love yourself.
You can’t change what others do and think
A friend of mine has a hard time setting personal boundaries. Often our conversation consists of my urging her to stand up for herself. As I watch her prepare for a major change in her life, I see how a major sign of how much we love ourselves shows up in the boundaries we are willing to set around how we will allow ourselves to be treated by others. The alcoholic sister of my friend thinks that when she needs it, they will live together. My friend said, “I want her to stop expecting that.” I replied, “You can’t change what someone thinks, you can only set firm boundaries that you do not allow anyone to cross.”
What would make you live with someone you don’t like, whose values you don’t share and whose presence brings you down? You need to stand your ground, not buy into the needy person’s story, and love yourself enough to say “no” to what you don’t want in your life.
The “values” barrier
Think of a boundary as setting up a barrier based on your values that you will not allow anyone to cross. Those values may include the way you express your spirituality (you want to be around those who are acepting of your ideas). What you eat (a person who has chosen a plant-based diet and a meat-eater don’t share the same philosophy). How you value your health (a person who is actively caring for their body is not attuned to the choices and life-style of an over-weight non-exerciser). There are people whose value barriers are around smoking and drugs. The first step is to define the values that are the most important to you and define them as a boundary/barrier you will not let anyone cross.
You can’t change the other person.
You can only change yourself. When you find yourself at odds with someone you may choose to listen and see if there is anything in what is being said that aligns with your values, or you may need to walk away. You can become more tolerant, You can become more forgiving. However, it basically is not supportive of your own person growth to spend a lot of time around people with opposing values and priorities.
How to set a Values Boundary
In some cases, there needs to be a Values Barrier, a strong stand that allows no compromise. In the case of my friend, her history of letting others step in and take over becomes a danger when it comes to her sister. She needs more than a boundary, she needs a barrier, an absolute line that cannot be changed. In this case, the absolute barrier is that in no way and no time will she live with her sister. Do you need to set a boundary or a barrier?
Your Values Boundaries are meant to protect you
Values Boundaries help you gain and maintain a supportive, rich and satisfying life. For instance, the energy of the person you live with affects every moment of every day. Whether it is a roommate, a spouse, a partner, or a child, the presence of another person colors your life. Set a values boundary around your living situation. If you need to live in order, how much space are you willing to allow your messy roommate before you draw the line? Where you place your boundary may be slightly different with each person. For instance, a child gets more leeway than an adult. Set your boundaries, then guard them. If you let yourself be run over you won’t respect yourself and the person doing the running over won’t respect you either. The people you hang out with can either support you or tear you down. Determine who the supportive ones are and release from your life the people who do not encourage you in the direction you have chosen.
Some of my values barriers are set up against people who are negative or angry. That energy is so hard for me to be around that I have to leave the room when someone gets angry or negative. You want to allow people in your life that share your vision, your interests, and the values and qualities you embrace in your life.
How to stand up for yourself
You are the only person who can keep people from crossing the values boundaries that you set. If you have chosen not to be around alcoholics then sister or not, those people are not allowed into your life.
If you are concerned about animal rights, you may be less attracted to people who consume meat. As you change and understand your personal values more thoroughly, you will probably need to change some of your friends. I’ve gone from a 35-year vegetarian to a 2-year vegan. There are very few of either persuasion where I live. I do not care what other people eat. However, I very much care what I choose to eat. There are some gatherings I no longer attend because the consciousness around food is so different than mine. It’s simply a choice, not a judgement.
A Values Barrier is not a judgment.
People can do whatever they want. Your values barrier is you taking care of you. It is you loving yourself. I have no intention of trying to talk anyone into doing it “my way.” However, I have every intention of finding like-minded people who share my current interests.
What kind of values barrier will you choose?
What are the values that are important to you around your health, spirituality, friendship, the workplace, your creativity? I’m 82 but I want to be around people who are consciously caring for their bodies (hard to find in this particular generation), conscious of bringing their spirituality into each moment, who are curious and want to learn. I seek those people out and walk away from people who do not nourish me.
Walk away or stop them
If you can walk away from a negative situation do it. If not, you will have to learn to stand your ground and prevent those people who do not hold your same values from being in your life. See yourself as the guardian of your being, standing firm to keep your values around you and keep out those who would cross your boundary.
Work on expressing your own values
I’m learning to let things unfold which makes me less assertive. I am learning to be more mindful, which allows me to better listen to others, and to mindfully nourish and care for my body, which is showing in the improved quality my health. I deepen my spiritual awareness through study and practice. In the senior housing where I live, I’m off in my own little world with the way I am expressing these values. I keep them to myself and work to learn how others think. I will walk away from an angry person or a gossip. I walk away from negativity and consistently work on myself to let go and simply “be.”
What are your values? What boundaries/barriers do you choose to set? What changes will you now make? How will you defend yourself if someone tries to cross the boundaries you have set? How much do you love yourself? It shows in the Values Boundaries that you set.