Your Life, Your Rules
Boundaries have been described as a set of limits or rules which a person decides are reasonable with regard to how other people should behave towards them. These conclusions are made upon personal opinions, beliefs, likes, dislikes, upbringing, experiences and social learning. They work in two ways, both inward and outward; how you expect others to interact with you and how you interact with others. It may take time to find the right balance, so they are neither too weak nor too strong.
Boundaries are an important component in any relationship and may differ from person to person. We’ve all met the person who just has to invade your personal space and gets a little too close for comfort. Whilst close proximity is acceptable with some people, with others, it’s uncomfortable to say the least.
We need to decide what is acceptable in our lives and what is not. Normal, healthy people know not to cross the line. They’ve got a reasonable idea when not to intrude. Narcissists, on the other hand, don’t possess healthy boundaries and have no respect for yours. They don’t like you setting boundaries and putting limits on their behaviour. However, they have an uncanny way of pushing you to your limits for their own amusement, to create friction or maybe just to relieve their boredom. Boundaries are all about cooperation, a word which appears to have been omitted from the narcissist’s dictionary. Setting boundaries with a narcissistic personality is not a one off thing. Expect it to be something you will need to address over and over again. It is possible to set boundaries with a narcissist but you will need to stand strong and show a little fighting spirit. Communicate your wishes firmly and directly and don’t let them push your buttons. Say your piece and walk away or end the conversation if you have to, but leave them in no doubt that you mean what you say. Learn to say, “No,” or “That doesn’t suit,” and mean it.
Setting parameters is something we should all be doing. First and foremost, it is taking care of yourself which is an important part of your wellbeing. Never let anyone make you feel guilty for setting your standards. In close relationships, communicating your needs to your partner should not make you feel uncomfortable. If they get angry with you or go against your wishes, they’re not giving you the respect that you deserve. They are the one with the problem, not you.
Healthy boundaries include ‘alone time’ and time to spend as we see fit, with friends and / or family and we should feel free to keep those relationships alive.
A dysfunctional family background often leads to a child believing that their opinions, needs and desires are meaningless. As they grow up, these children need support to make them understand that they are not insignificant, to help them develop a healthy sense of self and form healthy relationships in adult life unafraid to set boundaries as to how they should be treated.
Boundaries can be likened to a fence around your home which clearly defines your property. Without those fences confusion will arise. Some people may cross your boundaries from time to time with your consent. However, there shall be those who disregard them and enter uninvited with harmful intentions. That’s when you need to reinforce your boundaries, build a wall and close the gates.
Written by Anne McCrea
Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse, Shattering the Illusion, now available on Amazon