Okay, so if you have been reading this blog you know we talk a LOT about boundaries. Let’s take a different angle to today and talk about what boundaries are NOT.
Let’s start with the basics. Boundaries are a set of expectations around our interactions with ourselves and others. So what are boundaries not? Boundaries are not manipulation, control or preferences. Let’s jump into each one.
#1: Boundaries are not manipulation.
Boundaries are not about trying to change the other person, their actions or beliefs. Boundaries are not about cleaning up the other person’s side of the street but they are about keeping our side of the street clean. For instance, if someone sets a “boundary” that is intended to alter the other’s person’s behavior, that is not actually a boundary. So, if I set a “boundary” with my husband that he cannot go out to dinner because he needs to help with the kids, my motive is changing him. However, if I set a “boundary” that I need equal co-parenting to function well and set examples around that, that is me advocating for my needs and communicating them. If my spouse can’t meet them or chooses not to, then I take action to get my needs met. See the difference between putting the responsibility on him in the first example versus taking responsibility for myself and life in the second example?
#2: Boundaries are not control.
When we set boundaries to try to control the situation or the relationship, they are not actually boundaries. While we may have good motives by trying to control, control is actually an illusion and it negatively impacts relationships. Let’s look at the difference between healthy boundaries and control. If I set a “boundary” with my friend that she cannot drink around me because she is obnoxious, that is trying to control her. However, if I set a “boundary” that I will leave the area if my friend drinks, that is about me and my role in the dysfunction. See the difference?
#3: Boundaries are not preferences.
Let’s talk about the differences between boundaries and preferences. Boundaries are about NEEDS and preferences are about WANTS. Why do we need the distinction? Because boundaries are concrete areas with little wiggle room and are something worth fighting for to ensure. However, preferences are about desires but not something worth losing relationships or fighting for until you get it (though some may require a bit of a fight).
So, now you should have a good idea about what boundaries are not.
Want to explore more about what boundaries are? Check out the below blog posts or better yet, sign up for the boundaries course here.
4 Common Fears When Setting Boundaries
5 Signs You May Have Boundary Issues
How To Identify Boundaries
Jocelyn is a Licensed Professional Counselor and course creator who desires to help clients heal and grow into who God created them to be.