[Picture: Bodiam Castle and Bridge East Sussex England]
The castle, fortified and surrounded by a water field moat looks secure, serene and private. The occupants have a sense of security as the walls stand strong, the bridge is controlled by a guard who ensures that only those who the host desire to have in their home are let in. Each of us is like a castle with tall walls and moat to protect us. We decide whether to let down the bridge to allow guests into our homes, that is, our life and our space. Even when we have let in guests, we then determine how far they can go.
A boundary is the emotional, physical, and energetic space between one person and another. Placing boundaries in life determines who we are. Having a strong boundary ensures that we remain comfortable and safe. Keeping clear boundaries makes one have self-respect and also makes one earn respect from others. Weak or no boundary leaves us exposed to uninvited guests, who make us upset, angry and regretful.
Boundaries provide us a space where we feel secure, where we can grow and face our challenges without compromising our values. They are rules and policies of how we want to treat others and be treated. It prevents tension between us and the people around us as strong boundaries make it clear to others just how far they can go. We are in charge of our existence and we are in control of our own time, personal space, activities, and belongings. Just like in the castle, the host chooses which guests to welcome, which guests may stay and which rooms they may occupy. When one is not welcome to stay, the owners of the castle instruct the guards to escalate unwelcome visitors.
If you feel hurt, angry, resentful, or frustrated by others’ actions, consider whether it is a boundary challenge. Your safety and growth may be hindered by such feelings and such unhealthy relationships with others. To establish healthy boundaries, make it clear to others on what they can do to you, what are acceptable and what are not acceptable. Be firm and consistent so that people learn how you want to be treated and the consequences of their actions. Learn to say “No”, “Not now” or “Maybe later”; accept that you cannot please everyone, and that’s okay. Keep in mind: you are the master of your castle.
- Who would you let in to your castle? What about them that make them welcomed guests?
- Who wouldn’t you let in your castle? What about them that make them unwelcomed guests?
- What is your favorite picture of yourself when you are safe and having personal growth?
- What areas in your life have you failed to set boundaries and would like to do better?
- What’s the price of not saying No?