Two sisters in their forties call her anytime, ask her for anything, expect her to drop what she’s doing and come immediately. And she does — she’s their mother. Mom constantly feels used and uncared for but she believes not putting limits on her daughters is love.
Three employees come in when they want, leave when they want, and do what they want while the job they’ve been hired to do is left undone. There are no consequences in place for not doing their job. The boss is losing both her money and her health but she believes this is grace.
Her clients can reach her anytime — day or night. They can place unrealistic expectations on her and she will deliver. This real estate agent stays burned out, stressed out, and angry but worries about damaging relationships.
A myth is a widely held but false belief like lightening never strikes the same place twice or humans use only 10% of their brains or elephants are afraid of mice. I know you believe those statements are all true but they are myths. Google it.
There are many myths about setting boundaries — things we believe to be true but are false. Here are 3 myths that may be keeping you from setting much needed boundaries.
#1 — It’s SELFISH.
Some people object to setting boundaries because they fear putting boundaries on others is selfish. They err on the side of love, they say. But appropriate boundaries actually increase our ability to care about others. Selfishness is a fixation on our own desires without regarding what others need. When we say, “No” to people or actions that are harmful to us or them, this is a true act of love.
#2 — It HURTS OTHERS.
People often object to setting boundaries out of fear they will hurt someone — someone they really love and want to see happy. Healthy boundaries don’t control, attack or hurt, they simply prevent resources from being taken at the wrong time. This kind of boundary requires the responsible party to own their responsibility. Adult daughters can find someone other than mom to help them. Employees need to do their jobs. This is not hurtful but truly helping them take responsibility.
#3 — It’s going to DAMAGE MY RELATIONSHIP.
Many people avoid boundary setting with those they feel connected to in order to preserve the relationship. The idea is that because we received something from them like love, paycheck, time, energy, resources, we owe them something. We decide to pay the imaginary debt by not putting any limits on them. Limitlessness will not preserve the relationship, it will eventually erode the relationship.
When we play a fun game of softball or cards, we follow rules — sometimes our own made-up rules. Whatever the rules are, they help us enjoy the experience. When we go to the dentist, our health care professionals follow certain protocols. The protocols ensure a safe experience. Families have their own set of etiquette — shoes off at the door or no phones at the table or lights out at 9:00 PM. These boundaries are not selfish or harmful, they usher in order, peace and freedom.
Whatever myth is keeping you from setting healthy boundaries, today is a good day to challenge your beliefs and try something new. Myths come from our own misconceptions and our own fears. Take the time to face those because the beauty of boundaries is they bring order, peace, and freedom. We could all use a little more of that!