The Beauty of Boundaries

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Not to brag, but I am something of a swear word aficionado. If I lived near a port, I’m sure I would attract a slew of curious sailors looking for one of their own to throw back a pint with.

However, in the past I didn’t just use my salty language to spice up a casual conversation; it also sometimes crossed the line into the kind of swearing that was fueled by anger, frustration, and hurt feelings. My swear-fests would usually be triggered by my opening up to people, only to find my trusting nature used against me. That’s when I’d lose my mind – or rather my mouth.

Today cussing and I still enjoy a booming relationship, but now it’s on my own terms. Rather than spewing out deep-seeded venom born from painful breaks in trust, I now throw it out there to add a little flavor to conversations with close friends and family, or with casual acquaintances who have first demonstrated their own love of a good expletive to add a few laughs to the day.

How did I turn my cursed cussing around?

Why Boundaries are Necessary

First, I had to have a huge breakthrough in how I thought. For many years I had the philosophy that I should give people my trust up front. It was theirs to lose. I did this because I wanted to keep an open heart and not block people out completely. This turned out to be a not-so-good idea because of 3 types of people who exist in this world.

While everyone participates in negativity at one time or another, these are the people who make it a rule rather than the exception:

  1. Manipulators

Aahh, yes. The manipulator. Everyone has probably experienced at least one of these characters. They’re all peaches and cream up front, but soon you start to notice that the complements have turned back-handed, and you’re left licking your wounds.

Manipulators love to take what we reveal about ourselves – such as insecurities about our weight – and use these revelations to control us for their own purposes. The way they do this is to subtly break us down so that over time we forget that we deserve better. Anyone who consistently manipulates is insecure themselves, and so will try to keep us around in order to use our good energy as a kind of security blanket or crutch.

  1. Projectors

A second type of person to be aware of are those who project their stuff onto others. They can be tricky to spot, and are actually a type of manipulator. The key distinction is that people who “copy and paste” their own negative self-image onto others often don’t realize that they are doing so. This is what makes projectors particularly difficult to identify.

One good way of pinpointing a projector is if they play the blame game. Blaming you (or anyone else) for an issue in their life gets projectors out of having to solve their own problems. Instead, they can stay in denial.

For example, if you go to the grocery and buy 9 of the 10 items that the projector asked for, but forget to pick up the special kind of milk they like, suddenly you’re accused of not caring about them at all. Given your effort, this is clearly an overreaction.

Their drama arises because, in truth, it is they who don’t care about themselves. But fixing this is a lot of work. So instead, they finger point at you, and you find yourself defending your love for them. Over time, this is exhausting.

  1. Judgers

These are people who have preconceived notions about others that cause them to view life with a blurry lens. We all carry prejudices with us to a point, but the people who are constantly gossiping and attempting to tear others down are the ones who have little desire to grow in wisdom and understanding.

All of us come into this world with some improvements to make on ourselves, and one way to spot a judger is to mention this to them. They will argue, run away, increase their judgements of you – anything but turn inward to improve.

Boundaries vs. Walls

In response to my hurtful experiences with these types of people, I would shut down and completely shut people out. The good, the bad, and the ugly – all three were prevented from coming into my little world. Of course, you can see the problem with this is that we all need love, kindness, and compassion. Cutting myself off from receiving “the good” was not a healthy long-term strategy.

One of the best things I learned in counseling was that boundaries are not the same as walls. The latter block us from experiencing any parts of another person; the former are meant to block out people’s egos while still allowing the best parts of them to come in and make themselves at home.

Next Monday we’ll take a look at some healthy boundary-setting techniques to help ensure that your interactions are uplifting, and we’ll explore some of the awesome benefits of learning to effectively apply boundaries to everyday life.

-Kirstie Ganobsik

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