Have you ever watched how kids that have no boundaries behave?
One of my dearest friends was once one of those children. She hated it. She told me she constantly felt unsafe over the fact that there were no limits in her house, ever, about anything. So she began to act out in more and more extreme ways.
Because she was hoping her parents would set some rules and restrictions so that she’d know what her parameters are. Having no boundaries felt like I was lost at sea, all the time. As a child, that felt so unprotected and scary.
A little over a year ago, I hired a woman to help me with a few strategic things in my business. She had no boundaries. Now, I am a person who values boundaries greatly. I’m kind of known in my circles for my ability to set firm, open hearted & loving boundaries. My friend Mike once said to me Lisa, you are one of the most badass-at-setting-boundaries people I have ever met.
Before you think I’m just using this to brag on myself, think again. Imagine what it felt like for me, a person who has a healthy set of boundaries, to interact with a person who had none.
Wanna know what it was like?
Exactly like my friend’s experience as a kid.
I was extremely uncomfortable the entire time because I never knew where I stood with her.
She never took the time to send over a contract for our work that delineated:
- What expectations were on how I could communicate with her during our time together on the project I hired her for
- How often I could reach out to her if I had questions
- What times she preferred to meet with me weekly
- How often we would meet
As a result, I felt like I was walking on eggshells the entire time we were working together.
It felt extremely uncomfortable. I was constantly worried about stepping on her toes or crossing a boundary, without knowing what her boundaries actually were.
I cringed every time I sent her a long email (are those allowed?). I felt sick to my stomach if I sent her a message late at night, expecting she would just read it during normal hours and she responded at 1am (and then posted the next day how she really is tired and needs to set better boundaries).
Her deliverables were often late because she also had no boundaries with her other clients, so she frequently became overwhelmed, shut down and dropped off the face of the earth without so much as a peep while I watched the deadline come and go.
Worst of all, instead of relaxing into the amazing help I had hired her to provide me with, I was constantly feeling like I had to help her set her own boundaries. I’d find myself saying things to her like, “you don’t have to respond so late! Go to bed!”
I felt like one of those kids who has no boundaries.
When you have no boundaries, you unconsciously force others to emotionally take care of you without their consent.
Yes, take that in. Because that is what happens.
It happened to me. Not only did I feel unsafe, unsure and uncomfortable while I was working with this person (do you want a valued client to have that energetic experience with you when you’re working with them? Probably not!), but I also felt like I was having to take care of her and set her boundaries for her, when I actually hired that person to support me.
I highly doubt that was the experience she wanted me to have. She was a good, kind person. But that is the experience I ended up having, because she had no boundaries.
And that’s what happens if you’re lucky enough to get a healthy, well-boundaried person to interact with when you have no boundaries.
If you have no boundaries and you interact with a person who also has no boundaries, you will get drained dry. They will become increasingly demanding of your time, unreasonably so. They will get angry when you don’t do everything at their whim. They will become a monster in a nightmare you created.
And then you wonder why you don’t love what you do anymore?
Or feel overwhelmed?
Or lost the passion in your life and your work?
Open hearted boundaries feel like safe containers for the emotionally healthy people in your life (and attracts more emotionally healthy people into your life and business too).
When you have open hearted boundaries:
- I know where I stand with you.
- I know when I can reach out to you, what sorts of things I can reach out to you about.
- I know what I need to do to make sure that I am bringing to the table an energy that is as nourishing for you as it is for me.
- I know we can both be healthy adults and that you won’t have secret, unspoken expectations that you’re not telling me about, so that I can relax in your presence and have a truly meaningful, real interaction with you.
If you’ve been telling yourself for months that it’s time you set better boundaries, but you can’t seem to bring yourself to do it for you… then I hope that seeing it from the perspective of someone who has to interact with you when you have no boundaries will help you set them once and for all.
If you’re someone who loves to overdeliver — go for it! But let people know that you love to overdeliver and that they can rest easy knowing that you will let them know when you’re not okay doing something.
As a boundary-healthy person I appreciate that so much when you tell me that. I know I can relax and not take care of your unspoken expectations, because you will let me know when it’s too much for you or you’re not okay doing something. I can relax because you won’t harbor some secret resentment over a boundary I accidentally crossed months ago, that you never bothered to tell me about and then blow up at me out of nowhere someday.
Open hearted boundaries allows all of those who interact with you to feel safe, flourish and thrive. And it also tells me that my boundaries are welcome in my interactions with you too.
Maybe, seeing how a lack of boundaries affects the experience of people or clients who interact with you on a daily basis, will be the kick in the pants you need to set open-hearted boundaries once and for all.
PS: I’d love to hear how the above resonated with you. Please do let me know in the comments below.