Boundaries 101: Doormats and Border Walls

March 2, 2021

If you’re like me, you have two extremes when it comes to setting boundaries:

1) Non-existent boundary! Status… Doormat! Go ahead… stomp on me!

2) Isolationist boundary! Status… Border Wall!  No one in or out! No love, no care, no friends, no bueno! 

My Doormat self shows up first… all sweet, nice, and “no problem!”

Then here comes the resentment!

They MADE me… They GUILTED me… I HAD to…

Since I don’t want to feel that way next time, I start building my Border Wall.

So what’s a sane person to do if they want to stand their ground, have solid boundaries, and not live on an island with no friends?

First, we need to know what a “Boundary” actually is!

Boundary is something you create for YOURSELF.

It’s a way to designate where Me, Myself, and I start, and where someone else ends.

Visualize yourself drawing a circle around YOU.

This is MY space!

I want to emphasize that Boundaries are not… I repeat… NOT a way to control other people.

Boundaries are all about YOU!

A boundary is you saying “If this happens, I will do this.”

In other words, IF…

…everyone starts smoking pot, I’m leaving the party.

…my husband hits me, I’m divorcing him.

…your dog pees in my house, I’m not letting it back in and I’m sending you the carpet cleaning bill.

A Boundary is NOT:

  • Expecting your husband to bring you flowers and getting mad when he doesn’t.
  • Wanting your boss to give you a raise without you asking her for one.
  • Expecting people to know what you like and don’t like and to never say or do anything “that upsets you”.

Now… why do we want boundaries?

I know you’re thinking… don’t boundaries push people away and keep us alone and lonely in a cruel, cold world?

NO! It’s actually the opposite!

Boundaries lead to closer relationships because you stand on your own two feet and take responsibility for yourself.

Boundaries are you controlling the only thing you can and that’s YOU.

Let’s say you have a friend who likes to drop by unexpectedly because you work from home and they assume you have plenty of time.

As a Doormat, you stop what you’re doing and let her in. Maybe make some coffee and sit and chit chat, while the editing you were doing or the proposal you were writing sit on your desk, uncompleted.

These items are on your mind and as much as you wanna help your friend, you get impatient. Then you feel bad because she’s having a relationship meltdown, and you think “I have to be there for her”.

Except you’re distracted and miss what she said. You ask her to repeat herself… and she gets more upset… and you get more impatient… and now she’s bawling!

Oh, damn! No work getting done today! And you bring out the vodka.

As a Border Wall, you don’t answer the door at all. You don’t say anything to your friend about not coming over during the day. You don’t let her know your schedule or availability. You think, “she should know I’m busy!” Your friend can only guess when you might be available but soon learns not to bother you and eventually, doesn’t even try to talk to you.

With a Healthy Boundary, you could approach it a few different ways, but the key is to always start with LOVE.

Love yourself, know that you matter and that your time matters!

And love your friend!

Don’t you want to be 100% focused on her when she’s talking to you? You want to support and love her and hear her. You don’t want to resent her or think she’s talking too much or not have time for her.

Next week, we’ll talk about how to do that and some things that stop us from setting those healthy boundaries.

See you next week!

Love, Sheila 

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