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My personal goal right now is learning how to take better care of myself, self love, as it were. My first step to that is learning to set boundaries. At first I thought setting boundaries meant shutting people out or completely removing people or practices from my life. But while taking to someone about my struggle with this, they suggested I read Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. I’m only two chapters in so far, but it is definitely opening my mind to setting healthy and godly boundaries.
What My Dog Taught Me About Setting Boundaries
When I think of personal boundaries I think of my dog. I know, I’m one of THOSE people. Stay with me for just a second:
My dog, Sadie is a simple canine, but expresses her boundaries very clearly. For example, I want to cuddle and get in her face and she’s thinking “Okay you’re in my bubble. I’m uncomfortable.” She doesn’t bite me or growl. She slightly moves her head or she just gets up and moves positions. She is politely saying “Hey I’m all about cuddling but you’re all up in my grill. Too much.”
And I don’t get mad at her for this. (Honestly, I sometimes do this on purpose because it’s fun to annoy her and watch her reaction, I mean she’s my dog and she’s adorable). Instead, I understand that I went too far and I readjust according to her response into a position where we can both be comfortable.
My relationship with her has taught me: if my dog understands boundaries and keeps the peace without guilt or remorse, why do I constantly guilt trip myself for taking small steps to take care of myself?
Setting Boundaries Strengthens Relationships
Moreover, am I, to further the metaphor, sitting uncomfortably while the other person has no idea that they are in my bubble?
If Sadie didn’t let me know she felt uncomfortable, I wouldn’t change my behavior. She would be miserable. I would be damaging our relationship unknowingly. The consequences of her letting me know that she’s uncomfortable does not hurt our relationship. Her gentle communications help me to be a better friend as we grow in the knowledge of each other.
I would never want Sadie to be secretly miserable, slowly becoming resentful of me. So the boundaries she communicates are a gift to me – not something to be fearful of expressing.
From this, I gather that I need to establish boundaries in my life without guilt or remorse. I should stick with them and communicate them lovingly to those around me so they can better learn to treat me properly. That will not only establish a stronger bond between us, but also delete any bottled resentment festering inside either party.
Imagine the joy and fullness of relationships which grow in respect and genuine kindness simply because we gently express and respect the boundaries that each of us has.
Boundaries are worth setting. It is loving to you, and to all who care about you.