We live in a world today were we are afraid to say "No." We have been taught to please other people and avoid making others angry. Women especially, are socialized to put themselves last before everyone else. As women, we are not taught to say no and set limits and boundaries with others, and yes including family members, and in fact mostly family members.
So what does boundaries mean? In the online Oxford Dictionary, boundary is defined as "a line which marks the limits of an area" and "a limit of something abstract, especially a subject or sphere of activity." Now this is not the boundary that I want to write about. I am referring to boundaries in human relationships. The way I define boundaries in relationships is teaching people how they ought to treat you; showing others what you accept and do not accept from their behaviour. Setting boundaries is drawing a line (not literally) so people know what line they can cross or not cross with you. Children start school and learn very quickly what the rules are in the classroom and learn that if they cross that boundary, if they break a rule, there are consequences. If students talk to a teacher a certain way, they have crossed a boundary because there are certain behaviours the teacher will not tolerate. I can not stress enough how important building boundaries with people is. When we have the courage and ability to say "No," or "I will not deal with that" we let others know that we only expect to be treated with dignity and respect and nothing less. Expressing our wants, desires and needs to people allows them to know what we will allow in our life. Saying "yes" or "no" to certain things will give the message to others what you will allow in your space or not allow in your space.
Many people have a difficult time setting boundaries because of fear of rejection, judgement by others and feelings of unworthiness. As I stated above, women have more of a difficult time doing this as they have been socialized to take care and please others. The danger of this way of life is that if one tends to give and give to others, without knowing where to stop and say "no," they end up having nothing left for themselves. So in other words, they end up feeling depleted, burn out, bitter and underappreciated.
Setting boundaries is a form of self respect and self love. Many people feel they are unworthy and feel they need to take the hit for many people in order to feel a sense of worthiness. When we show people how to treat us, we are saying to ourselves that we do not deserve any less than respect and wont tolerate it. Setting boundaries with everyone is important. It is most difficult to do this with family members because we want to prevent judgement and want to maintain a relationship with them. However, no one deserves to be disrespected by anyone, even family. Family members are the hardest people to say no to in many cases. However, if we have a difficult time setting boundaries with family, then we usually have a difficult time setting boundaries in all our other relationships. Many people feel they don't deserve to be treated any better and they are afraid to stand up with courage and make a change. Many people wonder why they keep experiencing situations in which they feel attacked and disrespected on a continuous basis, either by friends, family or colleagues. A lot of this has to do with what they allow in their life.
Setting boundaries is not an easy task, especially if you were taught to please others and put yourself last. It takes courage to say "no" and to voice your wants, desires and needs. When you begin to set boundaries, you will begin to see that most people in your life will not like this because this would be a change for them. However your job is not to concern yourself with how others see you, but mostly on meeting yourself with the utmost respect and dignity. If you can not treat yourself with dignity and respect, then who will? NO ONE WILL!
"You have the right to say NO!" -Iyanla Vanzant