Be. U. TY Podcast is Here! The podcast that will help you unveil your authentic self so you can show the world who you are confidently. In today’s episode, our host Adozie Duffy talks about boundaries. Not so much about what boundaries are, but really about what they are not.
“ A very common misconception people have around boundaries, is that it is for the other person.”
“ the behavior your friend is displaying is not the thing that is upsetting you. It is the thoughts you have about the behavior that is upsetting you.”
“The biggest place we all go wrong when trying to enact our boundaries is that we center them around the behaviors of the other person.”
“The point of a boundary is not about expressing it to the other person, and expecting them to hold themselves accountable for their actions that you don’t like, but instead it is meant for you to set for yourself, for you to be accountable for your own actions.”
What to watch for:
1:49 – the concept of boundaries and what they are not.
3:22 – Think about your role in boundaries as well.
6:12 – The boundaries we set in our life are for us, not for other people.
8:29 – We cannot control other people but we can control ourselves.
11:08 – The purpose of a boundary is for you, not for the other person.
14:33 – Creating boundaries for yourself is a form of self-care.
16:56 – Setting a boundary isn’t supposed to be restricting.
Connect with Adozie
Welcome back to Be. You. Thank You! The podcast where we learn to hone in on who we are, so we can confidently navigate this confusing ass world. I’m your host, Adozie Duffy & today we are talking all about Boundaries. Not so much about what boundaries are, but really about what they are not.
This is a concept that I myself had gotten wrong for a long time, & I see so many people doing the same. I want to clarify this for you, so that you can feel empowered when it comes to making & enforcing them. Let’s do this.
So, a very common misconception people have around boundaries, is that it is for the other person. I tell person A about my boundaries, & I expect them to respect them, by adhering to my request.
For example, I tell my friend that I have a lot of work to get done & not to call me under any circumstance between the hours of 9-4 on the weekdays. (Sounds reasonable enough.) Yeah well, she decides she doesn’t give a fuck about that request & calls me any time of the day she feels like, as many times as she sees fit, with the fullest* expectation that I pick up the phone.
Now, if you are someone who understood boundaries in the way I originally understood them, you might be thinking to yourself something along the lines of “Yeah, what is that friend thinking? Those are clearly set boundaries. Why would she call during that time? It’s not a hard request to follow”.
But I want you to think about your role in this boundary as well. When she inevitably calls during the time that you specifically told her not to, what do you do? Do you huff & puff & think to yourself that she’s disrespecting you? Do you begrudgingly answer the phone & let her tell the story she is dying to get off her chest, whilst secretly resenting her the whole way through? Do you pick up the phone & tell her off?
What do you usually do in this situation when someone has defied your boundary? *
Now the example I gave may sound like a correct way to set a boundary to you. And I can understand why it would— it did to me. We are often taught about boundaries as a tool we can enact to help protect our mental & emotional space from someone else’s behavior. We are taught to think of it like a line in the sand we create because we refuse to tolerate someone treating us a certain way, & we think they need to learn a lesson. We think they need to understand that the way they are treating us is hurting us, or causing us to feel uncomfortable, or just straight up annoying us, and they need to knock it off because that’s not how you treat people you care about.
However, the issue here is, with this approach, we are essentially agreeing with the fact that other people’s behavior is the thing that causes out emotional distress. When it fact, it isn’t. Remember? It is our own thoughts that cause our feelings don’t forget this people!
Meaning, that the behavior your friend is displaying is not the thing that is upsetting you. It is the thoughts you have about her behavior that is upsetting you. No matter how rude you think it might be, or how inconsiderate, or how selfish you think the behavior is—Remember, circumstances don’t cause our emotions. & your friend behavior in this instance is just that, a circumstance.
So that means what your friend is or isn’t doing, is not the ultimate trigger for your emotional state (even though it really feels like it is), it is your thoughts about what they are doing.
Now approaching a boundary like this may seem harmless on the surface, and in a way it is kind of a form of practicing boundaries, however, if you’ve ever tried to do something like this in the past, you may have notice, it didn’t really stick. It may have worked in the beginning, but over time it went back to how it was before, and maybe even got worse.
Let me let you in on a little secret that you’re not going to like. The boundaries we set in our life are for us, not for other people. What I mean by this is that, you and only you are in charge of creating and keeping your boundaries. Nobody else.
Right now, you have the misunderstanding that a boundary is something that you say to someone else and expect them to fully grasp, implement and continually adhere to from this day forward. You are expecting someone else to start or stop a behavior in hopes of controlling how you feel at any given time in the near future. You are trying to control a circumstance in order to create a cushy world where you don’t ever have to feel bad, or uncomfortable or frustrated.
& sure, if that was possible, I would say go for it! Who doesn’t want to have a life that is cushioned by other people bending to our every whim*, the red carpet rolled out for us every time we leave the house, and a personal fanboy to make the whole experience of life joyous and relaxing with absolutely no effort on our part? I’m in! Sign me up! Show me where that door is & take me with you!
But alas, we live in a world where things are not always the way we think is best. & people don’t always act & behave in a manner that we think they should. So what a waste of time energy it is for you to try to focus on controlling other people. We know this isn’t possible. This is a tried and tested practice we’ve been doing since we were kids. We try to make other people behave the way we want them to, and then we get upset when they inevitably don’t.
They are a whole entire person with thoughts and opinions & beliefs of their own, and they have the right to do whatever they want, whenever they want, regardless of how it affects those around them. We know this is true. Whether we agree that it should be that way or not is not the point, because we know regardless of how we think it should be, we know that this is the case. We cannot control other people. & even if we could, controlling THEM is not going to be the thing that give us a sense of control over our own lives. Guess what will? Controlling ourselves. & you know what’s the amazing news about this? We actually have control over the latter! We actually do have control over ourselves. So how lucky for us that the only thing that is going to give us the actual results that we’re looking for, is the only thing that is actually possible?
So, back to the example I gave earlier. The biggest place we all go wrong when trying to enact our boundaries, is that we center them around the behaviors of the other person. We tell the person, “Hey I need you to not do x,y,z in order to respect my boundaries” However, ultimately when we say that, and when we approach boundaries in the manner, we are essentially trying to control someone else’s behavior in order to control our emotions & we are giving any power we have over to the other person. We are saying if so & so doesn’t behave in this certain way, then I am going to be very upset, so so & so better make sure not to do it, because it’s going to ruin my whole day. & then we just wait & hope that somehow magically because we stringed* together a couple words into a stern sentence their going to stop doing something they’ve been consistently doing to the point that we needed to create a boundary in the first place.*& all of our problems are going to magically disappear.
So as you can imagine (or maybe as you have seen) this doesn’t really work. We are trying to force someone else to change their behavior, in order for us to feel better & ultimately in trying to empower ourselves by creating a boundary, we give all of our power over to the other person. Because we allow their actions to dictate how we feel.
This is a huge misconception, which I think ultimately, just causes people to have more conflict, that then leads to more emotional suffering and doesn’t get anyone the results they looking for.
A lot of the time it ends up making the person setting the boundary feel helpless, which will only just heighten the emotional response when the other person inevitably “breaks the boundary”. Because all of your energy & thoughts are now centered around whether or not this person is violating your boundaries. It’s just not a great, or empowering mindset to operate from.
Instead, the purpose of a boundary is for you, not for the other person. You may choose to tell a person about a boundary that you have, or not. The point of a boundary is not about expressing it to the other person, & expecting them to hold themselves accountable for their actions that you don’t like, but instead it is meant for you to set for yourself, for you to be accountable for your own actions. & for you to get the benefits because you are choosing to have your own back even in a situation that seems hard or messy.
For example. I could set the boundary that any time my friend calls me during work hours, I am not going to answer the phone. No matter what. Even if she sends me 1000 texts, even if she is calling repeatedly, even if the tea seems really juicy, I will not pick up. & along with this, I am not going to contemplate whether or not I should answer, or stress over when I can fit it in during my work day. I have decided ahead of time that I am just not going to pick up the phone. Then, if and when I want to, I will call her back after work hours.
Now, if I wanted to, I could voice this boundary to my friend. But it does not mean she is going to stop calling me during work hours. & in this case of boundary setting, I do not expect her to. My boundary isn’t “Hey Friend, don’t call me during work hours” My boundary is “Hey self, if Friend calls during work hours, we don’t pick up the phone”.
The boundary here, is for me. It is something I have put in place for myself in advanced, so that when the situation comes up, I am not emotionally triggered or pulled by it. I have a boundary in this instance that I enact. Because I decided, for myself, that that’s how I want to respond.
Now, this doesn’t mean I’m going to get a glowing reaction from my friend, or that she even has to remotely like, or agree with it. This doesn’t mean she won’t bring is up, or even that she won’t ask me to change my behavior. But what it does mean, is that I am solely relaying on myself to take an action, not someone else. & what this does is help me build trust with myself, that even in sticky situations, even in uncomfortable situations, even when someone is asking something different of me than what I want for myself, I am capable of doing what I think is best for me regardless of what someone else expects from me. Because I know that I don’t cause their feelings, only their thoughts do. So if my friend doesn’t like my behavior, that is only because of the thoughts she is having about it, & her thoughts are none of my business. Seriously, I have my own plethora to manage & take care of for myself.
If my friend wants to call me during my working hours every single day, she is more than welcome to, but because of the boundary I set for myself, my reaction is always going to be the same. This is done out of love & protection for myself, & not out of a desperate need for me to try to control others. Or even to try to control how others see me.
Now I want you to understand that creating boundaries for yourself is a form of self-care. It is something you want to take your time & really think about, not just something you want to force on a situation because it’s not going to way you want it to. It is something you should feel good about setting, because it is the first step to you honoring who you really are and how you want your life to look, even if it maybe a little scary at first.
So when you want to make boundaries for yourself, it is important that you first decide what it is that you want out of this situation.
Is it peace of mind? Is it more time for yourself? Is it more autonomy over your choices? Is it to surround yourself with people who support you? What is it? It is also important so that you can understand how best to take care of you, as this is ultimately what we are looking for through all of this.& honestly it is important that you decide why you want the boundary first, because you’re going to need to remind yourself of this reason, when you are tempted not to enforce it.
Now the funny thing about the way this usually turns out, is that, even though you are not setting out to control someone else’s behavior, because ultimately, you can’t. Usually if a person is doing a behavior continually, and not getting the results they are seeking, eventually the behavior will die out. It might not! & don’t go into it thinking you are going to cheat the system, but this is also a helpful reminder during the time you might be finding it hard to keep up with implementing your boundary. Other people only care up to a point, & that’s honestly liberating!
So! I hope this helped you have a little bit of a different understanding of what it truly means to set a boundary, & how it is not mean to be harsh & restricting, it is meant to be something that eventually gives you more freedom. Freedom to show up & be how you actually are, without all the need to control others or manipulate reality to make things easier on yourself.
Anyways, that’s everything I have for you today. I hope you have an amazing week, & I’ll see you next week (;
You are the only one who can enforce your boundaries, you can’t expect someone else to do it for you.
*You get to decide the point at which you enact your boundary, and the action you are going to take to follow through on it. This is completely up to you, but what’s important to remember is that we teach others how to treat us, but not everyone is going to
s asks to borrow money, I am going to say no & change the subject. Now, if I wanted to, I could voice this boundary to my friend, but it does not mean she is going to stop asking me for money, and in the case, I do not expect her to. My boundary isn’t “hey friend, don’t ask me for money” my boundary is, “hey self, if a friend asks you for money, you say no & change the subject”. My boundary here is for me. It is something I have put in place for myself in advanced, so that when this situation comes up, I am not emotionally triggered* or pulled by it. I have a boundary in this instance that I enact. Because I decided, for myself, that that is how I want to respond. Now this doesn’t mean I’m going to get a glowing reaction from my friend, but what it does mean, is that I am solely relaying on myself to take an action, not someone else.
If my friend wants to ask me for money every single time we get on the phone, she is more than welcome to, but because of the boundary I set for myself, my answer is always going to be the same
The biggest point about boundaries that I REALLY want you to understand. You cannot control other people. Even if you ask someone to do something 10,000 times, they are in no way obligated to oblige. Yes, that is a very fucking annoying truth about life, especially when it comes to things that directly have to do with you, or directly affect you, but unfortunately this is the truth.