Why Doesn’t Anyone Respect My Boundaries?
Boundaries have certainly been a therapy buzzword for the last couple of decades. If they are so helpful, then why do my friends and family ignore them, or make fun of me when I try to use them? If this sounds like you, then your likely conclusion is that they must not work or at least don’t work for you. Don’t give up just yet! Boundaries do work, but not without some perseverance.
What Happens Without Boundaries
If you live in the Jackson area, you know that one boundary very few people respect is the speed limit on I-55. The posted limit is 60 mph, and yet, most people travel in excess of 70 or 80 mph. If you drive a motorcycle, it seems that you are supposed to double the speed limit after 9pm.
Boundaries without consequences are simply suggestions.
How can this be? The punishment for speeding is typically a traffic ticket. If you have ever been pulled over by law enforcement, you know that pit-in-your-stomach feeling of despair that comes with the $150+ ticket that will soon coming your way. Why in the world would people risk this? Until about two months ago there was little risk of getting a speeding ticket on I-55 in Jackson, as the police force was understandably focused in other areas. So, why should I go the speed limit if no one enforces it?
How Consequences Patrol Boundaries
Our fallen human nature leads us to get away with what we can. Thus, people have driven 80 mph for years and thought nothing about it. Like the consequence you set with your loved ones, it ultimately does not matter what you expect because a boundary is by itself an impotent rule. Boundaries without consequences are simply suggestions. It would seem that JPD has decided to suspend the suggestion and deliver the consequences. I have seen blue lights flashing every day for weeks now as I commute to work. It will take a while, but drivers will eventually begin to change their behaviors as fines are effective motivators.
Teach Others How to Treat You
We are learning beings who constantly adapt to our circumstances and environment. When something works for us, we hold on tight to it and repeat. It doesn’t even have to work well for us to latch on to a behavior or style of relating. If you want your loved ones to respect you, you must stand up for yourself without devaluing them. We get lost in establishing our own boundaries and asserting our value so often that we sacrifice another’s significance and voice. This is an unhealthy pendulum swing that leads to more grief.
If we want to correct our boundaries, we must find out why we don’t enforce them. What is holding you back from telling others “No” and sticking with it? Are you afraid of disappointment, rejection or abandonment?
If you find yourself voiceless and are feeling insignificant in your relationships, I encourage you to reach out to Watershed Counseling and set up a time to talk with someone. We can help you find your voice.