Setting and Protecting Boundaries…Not Just Important For Countries.

Last week I wrote about a project I’m doing…one self portrait a week for the next year. Here’s my third week!


It’s very uncomfortable! Maybe some day it won’t be, but for now it totally is! It’s weird both having a camera pointed at myself and also making the time to take it. It’s so self promoting, and when you think about it, self promotion is not stressed as a big plus for girls/women in our society. Some would call it “vain”, “self obsessed”, “narcissistic” “selfish”. Genderly speaking, girls are supposed to be giving, thoughtful, kind, doing things for others, going out of their way to help, putting other people first. It’s what we do as moms, and what we’re raised to do when little. At least, that’s my experience. The only problem with that is by putting everything and everyone first, we don’t learn much about ourselves. By always giving, sometimes we forget or never learn about what we need to get.

Remember when I wrote about having some thoughts and feelings percolating in my psyche like gnocchi balls that weren’t fully cooked yet? Well, a gnocchi ball of thought has popped up, ready to be digested. And when I digested it, I realized something about myself. I’m not really good at boundaries. Or, rather, I have boundaries until someone else tells me I shouldn’t. lol. But that’s just as bad as not having them at all.

I don’t know where my lack of boundaries comes from. It’s kind of uncomfortable to think or talk about. There’s always “blame” to go around…family, society, school, kids, etc. And at 37, it really doesn’t matter anymore the who’s or the why’s. The only thing that matters is that I can now develop and change anything in my life that isn’t working for me anymore. And having really weak boundaries isn’t working for me anymore.

What exactly are boundaries? Taken from this article:

boundaries define a person’s sense of self (i.e., who he or she is as an individual). We set boundaries to protect our body, thinking, feelings and behavior. Intact boundaries give measured protection to your body, thinking, feelings and behaviors as you evaluate and assess the words and actions of other people in your life. It is a way to exhibit self-respect, thereby increasing the respect shown to you by others.

I’ve been slowly putting up more boundaries in my life. This means I’ve been saying things like:

“I dont like…”
“Stop that”
“I disagree…”
“I want…”
“I need…”

I’ll tell you what, saying those things out loud is just as paralyzing as trying to take a self portrait with a camera. They’re bold, powerful, determined, and forceful. BAM! None of those things were encouraged in my life, and most of them I was, in fact, punished for exibiting.

Taken from this article:

“It is important to state our feelings out loud…t is important to do for ourselves. By stating the feeling out loud we are affirming that we have a right to feelings. We are affirming it to ourselves – and taking responsibility for owning ourselves and our reality. It is vitally important to own our own voice. To own our right to speak up for ourselves.”

I’ve been finding my voice consciously for about a month. It’s been really hard, with really concrete consequences. Some people don’t respond well to it. Other’s try to push the boundaries back down. Some people have been shocked by it. I’ve had relationships change, many of them for the worse. So why do it?

“It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has no boundaries, with someone who cannot communicate directly, and honestly. Learning how to set boundaries is a necessary step in learning to be a friend to ourselves. It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves – to protect ourselves when it is necessary. It is impossible to learn to be Loving to ourselves without owning our self – and owning our rights and responsibilities as co-creators of our lives.”

As totally uncomfortable as making and setting boundaries has been, I’ve noticed some really great things come about from it. I get to say:

“I love…”
“I appreciate…”
“I want…”
“I need…”
“I choose to do…”

and that has brought a huge amount of good into my life. The relationships I have of supportive, encouraging people have been strengthened. Some relationships have gotten better. I’ve stopped blaming other people for my unhappiness, or holding anyone else responsible for it. I feel a little more in control of my life, and that’s a good thing.

Read the full article on making personal boundaries here! It’s really good!

You know Oprah has some good stuff about personal boundaries!

Great article on what characteristics apply if you have no boundaries, week boundaries, or healthy boundaries.

The importance of setting personal boundaries.


37 Responses

  1. I love this self-portrait of you and I also love this post. I completely know where you are coming from and it’s also hard for me to take self-portraits. It’s very wierd to see a picture of myself that I’ve taken because I feel like somehow it’s wrong, which is ridiculous. I don’t even like to put pictures of myself on my facebook page, blog or website. I feel like I’m being conceded when I do that.
    I like this challenge…keep doing it!

  2. I needed this:)

  3. Pure awesomeness. Just. like. you.

  4. I feel so connected to this that I can’t even start writing… But thank you!

  5. I usually have good boundaries, as in I’m good at saying what I want and don’t want. Sometimes people experience me as pushy, because I don’t hear their quieter statements of what they want. I try to listen, but it’s an acquired skill – it doesn’t always come naturally.

    You have so much enthusiasm for life that I mistakenly thought you were like me in this, too. Thanks for sharing your thinking and growing on this.

    • no, I’m definitely one of the quieter ones not getting heard, but I’m trying to change that, lol.

  6. Gosh….wow…awesome and so very timely. I have been having this very same talk with myself lately. You are right…some people are responding well…encouraging almost. Other relationships have and are definitely changing. I am also working on accepting the change. If it doesn’t fit into my boundries, obviously it needs to go.

    That one is hard for me. I love hard and fall harder. 🙂 However, I am sure it will contiune to get easier. It already has.

    Thanks for the encouragement to get what I need.

    • it’s a hard transition, especially when relationships change because of it. But it’s all about your boundaries, and no one will respect them if you don’t! go get what you need!

  7. Nice ! I need it !

  8. It’s so awesome that you acknowledge that people our age need to take responsibility for who we are now rather than playing the eternal parental blame game. I agree!

    Another wonderful discovery is when we can stop blaming *ourselves* for *others’* unhappiness.

  9. this is an amazing post. thank you.

  10. wow.
    my heart is aching from this.
    this is SO me.
    why can i not find my voice?
    or why do i let others dismiss my voice?
    this is what has me stuck
    and i get so restless and i know why and what but still i sit in this same spot.
    you are brave. i applaud you.
    this is a mirror to my insecure self and i am all choked up.

    • you have a voice. Now speak it! It’s time to get unstuck.

      Let’s get unstuck together.


  11. really like this post, need to come back soon and read more!

  12. ::::STANDING OVATION!!!!:::::

    Bravo! I celebrate and applaud your new sense of Self and boundaries.

    That picture is soooooo awesome, btw. LOVE it on so many levels!

  13. your words mean so much, you know that? thank you, beautiful you… x.

  14. I love this portrait too.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about trying to get more photos of myself with my children… Thanks for raising the issue!

    …Still thinking about it. Need to do it.

  15. This is an excellent read! Thank you.

  16. In relation to setting boundaries for giving, giving and giving more weather time, talents or treasure I have learned recently that even Jesus had to say no to things. He had to set boundaries for his life. In a class I took, we discussed that we all have a purpose and sometimes we busy ourselves so much we can not find what our true purpose is. And, if we do know what our purpose is, but do not set boundaries, we are unlikely to be able to fulfill our intended purpose. This gives me freedom to decide if my boundaries are in the right place enabling me to be who I am created to be. That, for me, has been a nice discovery.

  17. i think i need to take this in bits and digest it. roll it around in my mind a bit, you know? i have many insecuritites. i feel the need to please and a lot of the time i end up resenting that. i often feel unheard. that when i speak, no one is listening, but i am required to listen to others always. how do i put up a boundary from those i love?
    i need a little time on this one.
    thanks tiff.

    • big questions, I know. I felt the same.
      Other’s don’t hear you because you’re not listening to yourself. Listen. Respect it. Respect you! Boundaries won’t keep you from who you love, they will help you get a stronger voice about what you need, though. 🙂


  18. woops, i meant insecurities not tites. : P

  19. thank you so much for sharing, especially as it has been a challenging process for you.
    i agree with you about setting boundaries as an important part of taking care of ourselves and our relationships with others… if you are being real and true to yourself in any given moment you can trust that the outcomes, whether they feel good or bad, are just a part of the process of becoming whole and authentic…we shift and shift again… you’re not alone… even if it feels like that sometimes… it can be so hard when you receive disapproval, judgement and almost have to fight your way to ‘you’ with others… but, those who love and accept you for who you are at any given time and as you change will be there for you and the rest will fade away as you continue to grow. (who knows, maybe they’ll come back someday)
    be well

  20. […] Setting and Protecting Boundaries…Not Just Important For Countries. […]

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