What is a boundary? A boundary, a personal boundary is much like a law, if you will, a protocol in your own life, which is not governed necessarily by the government. It is governed by yourself. It's basically a set of things, a set of rules, a set of behaviors, that you accept from yourself or you won't accept for yourself, that you accept from other people, or you won't accept from other people, that you accept from the world, or you won't accept from the world. It's basically drawing a line in the sand and saying, "Hey, I'll take all of this, but I ain't taking any more of this. When it gets to this level, I'm done with it. When somebody keeps pouring water into my glass, and once that glass is full, and the water is leaking out. My boundary has now been activated and I am going to enforce my boundary. Or I have a home and it has a fence, and anything can happen outside of that fence in the world. I have no power. But when it comes to someone getting over that fence, into my house, into my home, in my environment, I am going to enforce my space and I'm going to kick them out, metaphorically or physically."
Boundaries are what you take and what you don't take. Have you ever used terms about yourself or has anyone ever used terms like, "You're a pushover. People walk all over you. You don't know how to say no. You are not a strong person. You're weak. You're a pussy"? Do you ever experienced titles like that that people have thrown at you? Is that inner voice inside your head ever thrown a voice, a sound, something like that, at you? Well, basically what that is is it's a boundary violation. So today's session, today's podcast, is gonna be about how to establish boundaries in your life, to know what your boundaries are, to tell people what your boundaries are, to enforce your boundaries, and if people, including yourself, don't respect your boundaries, then you're gonna have to police them and you're gonna have to stand up for yourself. To quote the great Martin Luther King Jr., "If a man has not found something that he would die for, then he isn't truly fit to live." So boundaries are what you accept, and what you do not accept in the world.
Most people don't know what their boundaries are. But yet one day, someone does a behavior to you and it just, you get a gut feeling that this behavior is wrong, that you've been mistreated. That you've never sat down necessarily, unless you're weird like me, and made notes on what all your boundaries are in relationships, in your health, in business, with other people. But you just know when you're treated wrong, perhaps even by yourself, you get that gut feeling. You get that splinter in your brain, to quote Morpheus in The Matrix, "It's just something feels wrong." And you need a way to know what your boundaries are in your health, in your career, in your relationships, where your level is, where the edge is for you and when you have to basically get online and enforce your boundaries because people are going to take advantage of yourself. Or potentially that you could take advantage of yourself.
But here's the thing, if you have not established a boundary, yet someone treats you bad one day, yeah, they could be an asshole, but if they didn't know what your boundary was because you didn't even know what your boundary was until they treated you too, "treated you badly," then it's not really their fault. Because they didn't know what your boundary was, and perhaps you didn't even know what your boundary was, and they're not a psychic so it's not their fault.
So the first thing is establish your boundaries, how to come unstuck, number one, in boundaries. What are your boundaries? What are you going to accept in your life? What are you gonna accept in relationships? Are you gonna accept your partner just stealing all your money? Are you going to accept your partner beating the shit out of you? Are you gonna accept your partner just being abusive all the time to you and just making you feel like shit all the time? Are you gonna accept that? I hope not. So then you'll sit down and be like, "Well, of course I will not accept that. I wouldn't accept someone treating me like that, treating me like that, treating me like that." So make a list of all the behaviors that you will not accept in an area of your life. That could be relationships, in career, it could be, you can accept someone stealing money from you. No, well, that would be a boundary for you. Are you gonna accept someone, if you have a company, consistently showing up late to work? I'd hope not. I hope you'd run a tighter ship than that. Are you gonna accept people having a very low week work rate if they work for you? No, I'd hope that'd be a boundary.
What about boundaries when it comes to health? You wanna be healthy, so your boundary might be, "Well, I'm not gonna eat carbohydrates." Or, "I'm not gonna eat carbohydrates after 6:00 PM." Or, "I'm gonna work out every day, and if I don't work out every day, I'm not gonna watch any television." So you gotta know what your boundaries are in all areas of your life. You're gonna sit down with a pen and paper after this podcast, or pause it now, and have three pieces of paper. On one, write "career." On one, write "relationships." That's all relationships, with family, romantic relationships, with friendships. On the other one, write "health." That's your fitness, that's your health, that's your mental health, your physical health, all that good stuff. And you're gonna write a set of boundaries that you will not accept. And if people including yourself cross those boundaries, you're gonna enforce them. We're gonna get on to that a little bit later on. But first of all, you've got to know what your boundaries are. You've gotta know what you will take and you gotta know what you will not take. You've gotta have the balls to draw that line in the sand so to speak.
The second thing is if your boundaries relate to other people, i.e. they're not just about you, perhaps it's relationships or career, then you've gotta make people very, very clear what your boundaries are. If you run a company and someone is showing up late, you've gotta make it clear in no uncertain terms to your employee that this is unacceptable. If it's in relationships, and your partner is stealing a bunch of money from you, you've gotta make it very, very clear, "Hey, it's not okay for you to steal money off me." If you really want to get in good shape, but you never exercise and you eat a whole ten tubs of Häagen-Dazs ice cream at 12:00 o'clock, you've got to enforce your boundary on yourself. Say, "Hey, I'm not gonna accept this. I'm not gonna accept that, that's not acceptable. You know what? Then I'm not gonna watch T.V. if I'm gonna do that. I'm not gonna play video games because this is unacceptable."
You've gotta enforce those boundaries on some level. And you've got to inform the other person, even yourself, that there are boundaries. Because if someone is violating your boundaries, you know, coming up to your edge so to speak, coming on to your grounds, and they don't know what your boundaries are, where your line in the sand is, then it's not really their fault because they did not know. Again, they're not psychics. You've got to inform people. So once you've informed people, if they respect you, if they love you, then they will ideally respect your boundaries because now, there's a step three, they're aware of what your boundaries are. But however, if they know what your boundaries are, you've explained it to them, yet they are consistently violating your boundaries, then you've got to enforce them. So if you run a company, what does that mean? That means that person keeps showing up late, or has a weak work rate, what do you do? Well, you're gonna probably have to fire them. If you're in a relationship with someone who just keeps stealing money from you, just keeps abusing you every day, every day, every day, making you feel like shit. Every day, no goodness there at all. You're probably gonna have to get out of that relationship.
If it's with yourself, and your boundary is well, one again, I'll go back to the fitness one, I wanna get in shape. Then you've got to stop eating the ice cream at 10:00 o'clock at night. Okay? You've got to stop eating those Twinkies and those Timmy's donuts at 10:00, 11:00 at night and thinking you're gonna get in shape. You've got to enforce these. You enforce these and say, "This is unacceptable." If you do it, you've to be like, "Okay, I did that, so now I have to make sure that I don't do it again, so I'm not gonna reward myself for this," rather than having the ten more donuts because I'm already feeling shitty. I'm gonna be like, "All right, well, what else would I usually do? Well, I'd watch T.V. Well, you know what, I'm gonna take the T.V. away if I'm doing that now or playing video games away from me because I've just violated my own boundaries. I'm not gonna give myself that positive feedback look that it's okay to do this." I said "feedback look," didn't I? I meant feedback loop. But that would be a good title for a book.
So there's multiple ways that you can enforce them. Again, if it's with yourself, you've got to have that long discussion. If it's with other people, you've got to make them aware of it. And if they keep violating it and don't respect it, these are not the people that belong in your life. You need to get rid of them out of your life. That's number four. Sometimes you have to get rid of people. You have to get rid of employees. You have to get rid of lovers. You have to get rid of family members if they keep violating your boundaries. Your line in the sand. Things that you hold holy. The things that you hold righteous. The things that you will accept and will not accept. Then you've got to kick them out of your life.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2.
Luke Michael Howard
Toronto and Ottawa Clinical Hypnotist