First of all, let me say a rule about boundaries. Boundaries are not designed to try to get someone else to change. If your FIRST goal with boundaries is to get someone else to change something about themselves, your going in the wrong direction. One other thing I like to mention: boundaries are not mean and you are not “bad” for setting them. Boundaries are created to bring more love and freedom in our lives, not to be mean or force someone else to change. They are all about managing our own lives.
Ok, so two reasons they can be the BEST GIVE EVER! (at least to a therapist… :) )
1) They can be the greatest gift to you, because they tell you that YOU matter.
When I work with clients, the list of things they are hoping to change in their lives are things like less stress, more connection, relieve anxiety and heal from wounds. Boundaries can help with all of these because at the core of many problems we need a certain level of self-esteem to set AND KEEP them. Why? Not always, but the majority of people I work with lack boundaries to put their own needs high on the list, often putting others wants and needs before their own. This is not always the case, let me add that, but often times IT IS. So by setting boundaries you are telling yourself that YOU MATTER! Want less stress, set a limit on how you spend your time. Do you desire more connection, assess how much of YOU you’re bringing to relationships and how much of others are showing up. Deep connection is when two people can be freely their unique self. Lacking hope to crawl out of a depression? At the core, depression is turning hatred inward. Maybe it means giving yourself the opportunity to experience anger with others in your life, or at a situation. And of course healing from old wounds could mean carving out the time or space to journal, meet with a trusted friend, see a therapist. I know I’m biased as a therapist, but what greater freedom than to give ourselves the opportunity to heal? That is an enormous gift!!
2) They can be the greatest gift to others, because it can create space for them to rearrange and become a better version of who they are.
Let me revisit what I said in my intro paragraph. Boundaries are not about changing others. But, when we set limits, a byproduct of our new limits could be that it creates the atmosphere for others to change. Boundaries shake things up. They are uncomfortable. We are not used to change. So when we set a limit for ourselves, it changes the system around us, meaning, it changes they way things operate not only for us, but for others in our lives. An example of setting a boundary might be on a spouse with drinking issues. You could say, "The next time you drink too much I will take myself and the kids to my sisters house." They may not like that you leave the house, but it's something you're doing to change the system. This is talking about what YOU can do about a situation. Of course the other person won’t like this, but it gives them the opportunity to rethink their own plan of action, or get help where it's needed.
Let me just say, boundaries aren't always easy or fun. Like I said above, they can be uncomfortable not only for those around us (because we are changing the system in which they live), but they are uncomfortable for us as well because we will typically get pushback. Ask a trusted friend for support! They may need to be set over and over again. And also know, boundaries are not final. They can be adjusted! They can be tricky to navigate at the beginning, but the payout is huge. They help create more freedom and satisfaction in your life, bringing about a new way of relating to yourself and others.