The group had requested a session looking at boundaries, so we started by looking at where do you find it hard to put in healthy, balanced boundaries? People said that it was hard to assert themselves and they ran away instead, that it felt hard to say yes and that their social anxiety created their own cave. Others too were aware of overly strong boundaries and pushing people away.
The reason that people found it difficult to set boundaries was being worried about offending others, letting people down, biting off more than they could chew and afraid in case they couldn’t follow it through.
Families were cited as a difficult place to set boundaries as they are very likely to push them, particularly kids as they know your vulnerabilities! It’s easy to give in here “Just to keep the peace”. We acknowledged that it is harder to do too when tired, and can feel guilty so don’t want to ‘rock the boat’.
Setting boundaries in a workplace can feel particularly difficult because of the power relationship of an employer who is maybe asking too much. Being taken advantage of here can have an effect on personal life where the reverse occurs and you feel you can’t say yes to anyone as you don’t trust people.
We also discussed the paradox of saying no, whereby it is great to set the boundary, however people may not be used to hearing your ‘no’ and have a difficult reaction to this, which then requires holding the boundary and knowing that the reaction is their responsibility, not yours. We discussed also that sometimes we are trying to please people and seek approval but recognised that this is not a helpful foundation for us or others to act out of in terms of self-care and good care of others.
Without healthy boundaries people realise that they take on a lot of responsibility for other peoples stuff, and also not setting boundaries creates future resentments. Interestingly, like the discussion about decision making where people actually knew the right decision to make, (it was other things that created confusion), in not having healthy boundaries, people knew that this didn’t feel right.