"The biggest enemy of your personal boundaries is your willingness to disregard them." ~Janine Rudder
Even though I crossed that threshold many years ago, every so often I reach a milestone that fortifies my place in adulthood. After each of these events, I feel like my path forward is clearer, my belief in my capabilities stronger, and my life more aligned with my values. Lately, establishing and honoring boundaries has been at the heart of these pivotal moments.
When I choose to thoughtfully communicate, and unapologetically respect my own boundaries in any given situation, I am living into integrity and teaching others how to treat me.
You Are the Only Creator and Destroyer of Your Boundaries
One recent instance where setting and reinforcing my boundaries helped to clarify the relationship roles involved my tenants. If you’re looking to catapult yourself headfirst into adulting become a landlord! I’ve always resisted the idea of becoming a landlord, so when I abruptly parted ways with the property management company I hired to handle the job, I was a little bitter and a lot anxious. Despite feeling way out of my depth in an area that I previously had no interest in deepening my expertise, I forged ahead and made up my mind to be a fantastic landlord.
I began by identifying what characteristics would make me a stellar landlord – responsiveness, fairness, kindness, outstanding communication / organizational skills and empathy. I next decided to lead with those qualities in my approach to managing my home and relationship with my tenants. Since there are contracts involved, property management is the perfect context to outline agreements and adhere to them, right? It is in theory, but I soon realized that the biggest enemy of your personal boundaries is your willingness to disregard them.
I started to sidestep the terms that I created from the very beginning. For example, the listing stated no pets, but after one conversation with my prospective tenants about their elderly Lab I conceded. I also allowed them to negotiate the cost of the rent in exchange for a longer lease. The last straw was when I allowed myself to be talked into paying for non-essential appliances that would not have been necessary had they chose an alternate living arrangement.
In my quest to become a fabulous landlord, I had instead become a bit of a door mat – allowing my personal boundaries to be trampled in order to appear cool and easy going. What I couldn’t see in the moment I decided to breach my own agreements is that it was an invitation to my tenants to push my boundaries even further. Basically, my actions were saying these terms are just suggestions and totally open for discussion despite the fact that we signed a document agreeing to them.
To turn this situation around I had to accept complete responsibility for enabling my tenants’ behavior. I next had to re-establish my boundaries and make a commitment to them. Lastly, I had to adopt an approach that was true to the type of landlord I wanted to be and uncompromising in the limits I had set. So when I discovered they had gotten a cat without so much as a mention, I knew just what to do. I expressed my condolences that their dog had passed away, used kind words to refer them back to the lease, and remained firm about the terms our agreement.
Self-reflection Questions on Boundaries:
1. What are my boundaries in this situation?
2. Do these boundaries reflect my core values?
3. Have I been honoring these boundaries?
4. Have I made my boundaries clear to others involved?
5. How can I clearly and respectfully communicate my boundaries?
6. How will I know when my boundaries have been violated?
7. Once off course, how can I get back to honoring my boundaries?
The Beauty of Boundaries
The beauty of boundaries is that they can serve as a road map for navigating the relationships in your life, the most important of which being the one you have with yourself. Although the agreements you establish in each area of your life will vary, they all will likely reflect your core beliefs, the things that matter most to you.
As illustrated by the example above, when you neglect your boundaries the end result is often feeling victimized. Failing to establish them at all can lead to feeling hurt and / or lost, but without a clear understanding of why.
In response to Oprah’s question “How do you know when you’re on the right path?”, author Caroline Myss responded “When you’re not in a position to betray yourself. You’re not put in a position where you feel you have to negotiate your sense of integrity.”
What I interpret Myss to be saying is that you are not compromising what you know to be your truth. Living in authenticity and in accordance with your values is the essence of setting boundaries. You are essentially telling the world through your boundaries This is who I am, this is what I will and won’t do, this is what I will and won’t tolerate.
Janine Rudder is a coach and Co-Owner at Manifestara LLC - https://manifestara.com/