Boundaries, Barriers, and Limits, Oh My!

It is fun to talk about boundaries! This I gots question on my Facebook page was about setting and or respecting boundaries. Check them out:

Do we need to set boundaries in our relationships? How do we do it and why? Isn’t that a limitation to love? How do we know we are not crossing someone’s boundaries?

setting awesome personal boundaries
click to watch video

Hi Jodi, I’m wondering how you organize your schedule to choose and make time for the many things you do. I have so many interests and commitments, how can I effectively manage and prioritize them all? I like structure, but I also like having room for choices.

What to do if a friend pushes people away because of his depression; do I walk away and let him resolve his issues?

How do I handle people that are mean to me?

How do I forgive political injustice?

How do I not worry about someone going through a hard time

Boundaries Separate

When we think of boundaries, we think of “us” vs “them.”  We understand that one thing is distinguished from another.  Boundaries, barriers, and borders are not created equal. They are not absolute but relative to each situation, which is why these questions are so hard to answer. I realize if I say one thing, I am leaving out all other possibilities. Words by their nature are dual and as a writer I can’t escape the nature of words.

With that disclaimer, I will answer in a stream of consciousness…

“Need” is a definitive word, it implies that one way is right. In relative reality there is not one right way. Thinking there is one right way, leads to tons of judgment on ourself and others. Boundaries are negotiated within the relationship, what feels comfortable for one set of people is not for another set. Some people assume boundaries, and this can lead to vast misunderstandings. I prefer to negotiate them ahead. Boundaries can be limits to love, but they also can encourage mutual respect bringing people closer than they thought possible. Boundaries themselves are not barriers to love, it is the fear or guilt that block love.

Boundaries can be a skill in safety, or a barrier to relationship. It just depends. Depressed people might isolate themselves in their depression. In my opinion isolation makes things worse, so I might continue to reach out and be available, but respecting that the other person can say yes or no to it. I cannot make them decide to heal, but just offer kindness and love.  (Also see How Do We Know We Are Done Healing? which addresses our responsibility in healing others. And my video Love Instead of Worry.)

Time Limits

Negotiating time is very personal. Knowing that there is more than enough time to do everything I want to do has been important in my relationship with time. I used to lament that there wasn’t enough time, and inevitably my plans were thwarted and tasks became more timely. We create our reality and I created one where I could constantly change priorities and make time for what was most important. That doesn’t mean I do everything.  But I negotiate with people what I can and cannot do. This also changes from day to day, hour to hour. (i.e., I got up to help my daughter seven times during this post.) But I also have an exceptionally high work ethic, and have been working since I was 13 years old.

Breaking Down Barrier to Forgiveness

People are mean because they are so miserable that some of their misery overflows out onto others. They are usually afraid themselves or feeling guilty about something. rather than take it personally, take a step back and this might help understand why people are responding. Remember all attack is a call for love. Instead of being defensive, which they might find invalidating, respond with compassion. If they continue to be mean, you don’t have to stay available, just have compassion from a distance. I wrote a post about this yesterday on Anxiety-Schmanxiety: Too Anxious to Speak Up?

Forgiveness is for you more than for the other person. Holding onto resentment for unjust political decisions does not hold the politician responsible (unfortunately). Channel rage into taking action, then let go of the rage. Use the power you have, the power of purchase to influence corporations to be responsible! See what you can do instead of being frustrated by what others are not doing.

What is your two cents? 

15 thoughts on “Boundaries, Barriers, and Limits, Oh My!”

  1. You know it’s funny because I always thought of forgiveness as being more for the person asking for it than for the person giving it. Sometimes I think it’s a little selfish to ask for forgiveness from someone we’ve hurt just to make ourselves feel better. But I guess it does make the other person feel better too. It might be a 50/50, don’t you think?
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    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      I agree it is selfish to ask for forgiveness, just a replication of the abuse, or what ever. Forgiveness is for ourselves. Bu it does release the other person, too. This might keep some from giving it but their own reward is so great.

  2. The Time limits piece was my favorite–combined with the advice of relaxing certain needs (as you explain: there is not ONE right way).
    When you said “We create our reality and I created one where I could constantly change priorities and make time for what was most important” it really spoke to me. It is the way I am beginning to accept that I can not be superhuman. One thing I’ve found is that I actually do best when I factor in a little time for procrastination! Even that is ok in moderation. My daughter is the same way. 🙂
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    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      I do factor time for procrastination and cuddles and long talks about nothing….and starring at the moon and lying on the ground….

  3. Thank you very much Jodi for the answers.
    I like your explanation about boundaries, and that it’s something that can be discussed.I remember my mother calling me “the glue” because I used to stick to people I love and make them priorities in my life. She considered this behavior as if I didn’t respect people’s boundaries. It’s something that creates anxiety, being afraid of doing too much, or not doing enough when all I want is just be myself.
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    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      I sense that fear of not being right, since you often mention it. Trust yourself and you will be free. Know you know boundaries and respect them since you do. Release this judgment!

  4. Hi Jodi! Thank you for this thoughtful, responsive blog entry. I deeply appreciate and admire your work ethic = ). I loved the part about helping your daughter several times as you were writing. Reading that in addition to your disclaimer made me realize that the answer to my question was much more broad than the terms I was thinking in. I also clicked the work ethic link to read what else you wrote about it. It made me realize that some part of me is putting pressure on myself to be productive and do everything in a timely and effective manner without acknowledging any positives. When I was too busy and tired from school to do the things I enjoyed or felt passionate about, it was easier to justify down time. Now that I have more free time and energy, I worry about “wasting it”. Worrying is a waste of energy in itself though, lol. = D So next time I catch myself worrying, i’m going to tell myself to re-direct the energy.

  5. Forgiveness if very underrated, Jodi. Lack of forgiving others cripples. We can only change ourselves, not the other party. And yet people feel they can hurt someone back by not forgiving. It has the opposite effect, really.

  6. Boundaries can be a loaded word, as you articulate so well. Boundaries between countries create an us/them separation, for example, that mirror boundaries between people. These are boundaries created from fear. On the other hand, healthy boundaries preserve our well being. They are permeable and allow connection. As a person who had poor boundaries for a long time, I have come to love them! They allow me to have true union with others, not based on need or fear, but based on love and compassion. Great article.
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  7. It’s interesting, I’ve felt like a few people are being mean to me for no reason lately. They’re not people I care about – but it bothers me that they dislike me. Understanding that they are mean because of their own dissatisfaction with their lives puts it into perspective.

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      Yes, Bridget, You don’t need them! You have tons of great friend who love you, they define you! Sorry they have been mean, you are such a great person, it is all projection, our parents were right when we were little and said that “They are just jealous.” This is actually a simpler way of putting it.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Two days ago I finally mustered up the courage to express to my partner of 5 years who I have a 4 year old daughter with that i was enduring pain from him being emotionally unavailable since the oncet of our relationship a pain that is so deep it has finally taken over my streangth to fight. For 5 years his lack of opening up to me, lack of commitment and zero emotional support toward me and my other two children has been weighing down my heart and soul living everyday with only hope to go by. He is a man who was adopted by 3 different families as a child and has been abandoned by all his past loves for is inability to open up that barrier of feer which you spoke of in you post. I feel trapt because I know he is not at fault. His only security has been himself and his ego to protect him from any dangers life may bring. He was not loved as a child and know that his inability to open up those boundaries of feer probably derive from his past. He has not spoken a word to me since and is playing the victim which in affect is not making it any easier just even more excruciating. He is the wormes loving person to all those around him, we get along very well, he is a great father hardworking caring individuale which make it unbelievable to anyone I try to open up to. Even my own parents and closest friends are in disbeliefe and only encourage me to be strong and give him a chance. His real name is moses and truly lives his life in a similar fashion (no joke) and was even raised by a wealthy damily after being given away at the age of 5 in gahana by his mother who wanted a better life for him. And that family then pushed him away under very similar circumstances as moses himself. My love for him is unconditional and I made a vowe to never abandon him despite the pain I am in. All I can do it make it known to him as I did that his linability to open up to me is causing me pain. The only way I can be freed from this is by him opening up and communication his fears or just to let me know that he just needs a little time. I am on empty and need him to give me a little fuel to renu that hope. If he is as vertious as he and everyone makes him out to be I know he has itin him to break open that barrier to communicate to me. All i want to see is him happy either by my side or not.

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