The words boundaries and limits are used interchangeably, but I feel they are very different.
I think of boundaries as the limits we set not from old habits and subconscious conditioning but by choice.
While limits are the restrictions on what is permissible or even possible.
You can see that boundaries and limits are similar and yet also different.
Our boundaries are the limits we set by choice rather than from old habits and subconscious conditioning.
The critical distinction is that limits are enforced upon us. At the same time, we set boundaries, and in doing so, we place restrictions or limits on ourselves.
This is important because our boundaries affect our energy levels, feelings, self-concept, self-respect, and happiness.
Our boundaries ensure that we have our needs met and that we aren’t being taken advantage of.
Unfortunately, we can become ‘limited’ in our abilities, behaviour, and self-concept.
These limits can be expanded with education, self-awareness, intention and repetition.
We can set new boundaries with ourselves and create boundaries to clarify how we want and expect to be treated by others.
Think about areas such as time management, lifestyle, and eating habits.
It all rests on one critical part, ‘choice’ and your reasoning behind it.
Boundaries should be different for different people.
You can also review your boundaries and change them if you decide that you want to be either more flexible or more rigid.
And you can make that decision depending on the other person’s circumstances and behaviour.
We need boundaries.
With knowing ourselves better, we begin to assert what is acceptable and what isn’t.
What we will tolerate and do, and what we won’t.
- How much effort you’re willing to put into a job.
- How much time you’re willing to spend with someone.
- What you’re willing to do with your partner.
- What demands or expectations from others that you’re willing to meet.
Looking at your boundaries from this perspective, it is easy to see how boundaries ensure that you get your needs met, and aren’t being taken advantage of.
Creating and maintaining boundaries.
The first step in creating boundaries is to be crystal clear with yourself about the boundaries you want in place.
Then you need to keep your boundaries in your thinking. Ask yourself, “Do my boundaries need re-enforcing?” when you interact with someone who keeps pushing against them.
Or, conversely ask yourself, “Do my boundaries need softening?” when you interact with someone who has learnt to have more respect for you.
Always express yourself assertively and clearly, leaving no doubt about your intended message.
It is natural to have mixed feelings about creating boundaries and enforcing them.
When I made the conscious decision not to be the people-pleaser and push-over any more, I felt a sense of guilt.
Partly self-imposed but mainly from others who applied guilt to have me revert back to meeting their needs without question.
A lot of people will feel a level of discomfort when asserting themselves.
These are your choices, and it is your right to assert them.
If you fail to set boundaries, no-one else will do set them for you!
In the give and take of life, it’s equally important to become aware of and to respect other people’s boundaries.
Just as you have a right to your boundaries, they have a right to theirs, even when you don’t agree with them!
How limits get set.
We’ve all felt them. We reach for a goal, only to stop short.
We call that stoppage or limit.
All too often we don’t stop to analyse the origin of the limit or whether it’s a limit at all.
The problem is if you don’t understand how the limit was created in the first place, how in the world can you expect to defeat it?
There are three originators of limits. Two of them come from us, and one doesn’t.
Let’s explore these further.
Limits we encounter from the world around us.
From the time we’re old enough to be aware that others around us not only exist but also form opinions of us by our actions, we start creating limitations.
These limitations have a lot to do with worry about being embarrassed, failing publically or being put into a position where we might be hurt or ridiculed.
In short, we allow everyone in the world the honour of telling us our capabilities.
The only way past this particular kind of limitation is by standing up for yourself.
Decide just what you’re going to be affected by, and who has a right to tell you anything. Anyone else can jump in a lake.
Limits from our bodies.
Unless you’re a super athlete, you’re not operating at peak efficiency.
In fact, according to various studies, the average person can use about 65% of their muscles (less if you’re a couch potato) as opposed to the 80% used by someone who’s trained professionally.
What this means for you is that sometimes you’re going to physically hit a wall and think that’s where you stop.
The truth is, you’re capable of more than you think. And it’s OK to force your body past that limit sometimes. Not sure how far is right for you? Enlist the help of your doctor or a personal trainer.
Limits that come from a brain that’s overloaded.
When you get too busy or start multitasking, here’s where the problems start. A brain on overload makes mistakes. You start getting too emotional, and you make poor decisions.
All this happens when your mind has reached the limit of what it can handle.
The solution? Focus on one thing at a time. If that still doesn’t work, you might need a break for a bit.
The next time you feel like you’ve hit a wall, take time to ask yourself some honest questions about where that limitation came from in the first place.
By understanding where it came from, you know exactly how to work past it so that nothing will stand in the way of your success.