Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Where I Start and Where I End

"It is an old an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way." -- Rollo May

Our boundaries are both inside and outside ourselves. No one can set them for us; we can only set them. For many of us, boundaries are often unfamiliar. We may wonder, What are they? How do we use them? Some of us may have come from families where, as children, our boundaries were disregarded, perhaps creating a pattern we continue to live out as adults.

Starting to set boundaries for ourselves takes time and lots of practice. Because the experience is so unfamiliar, we may find ourselves vacillating between two extremes - holding back out fear of blurring our boundaries, or acting as if we have no boundaries at all. But our willingness to se boundaries and stick with them brings a clearer sense of who we are. We begin to learn where we start and end. We start to learn the same about other people. With boundaries comes a new sense of self-respect because they become our affirmations to ourselves that we are not objects to be trampled upon or used, but rather human beings, with dignity.

One way to create boundaries with people is to establish priorities in our relationships. In the past, out of loneliness or neediness, we may have talked to anyone, whether the person wanted to listen or notl. In this mixed-up world, we would find ourselves withholding our true feelings from people close to us, and spilling them instead on the cashier at the grocery store.

As we grow in self-esteem. our relationships improve and we act in positive ways to meet our needs. Then we have a better sense of who we are. We make choices in our relationships and take responsibility for them. We learn to bear the pain of boundaries that are not respected and enjoy the peace from those that are.

We no longer need to give ourselves away in bits and pieces; we know now what it is like to be whole. We can simultaneously have aquaintences, friends, co-workers, and even close, intimate relationships in our lives. We can trust we will act appropriately and that our boundaries will keep us safe.

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