Living without healthy personal boundaries deprives us of our dignity, is destructive to relationships, and keeps us from fulfilling ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Like a broken fence, there are two sides to unhealthy personal boundaries. On one side is the pattern of disrespecting others personal space, taking advantage of them, and being abusive. On the other is allowing oneself to be disrespected, taken advantage of or abused; and deliberately doing things for others that are their responsibility to do for themselves. Permeable personal boundaries are a main ingredient in dysfunctional relationships and codependency. Unless boundary issues are dealt with, healthy relationships can be difficult if not impossible.
Issues with personal boundaries are very prevalent in Western society. Anyone who was raised to be a “caretaker” type of person, or suffered abuse early in life is likely to have “permeable” boundaries, and find themselves in situations where it seems like they’re giving too much, or are the subject of continued abuse.
In other cultures, these issues can be even more pronounced. In my intuitive counseling practice I’ve seen female clients from the far east who were raised to be so subservient, they were literally unable to say the word no above a whisper.
When we’re raised in a situation where our personal space isn’t honored, where we’ve been abused or treated without respect, we’re left with a wound that cries out for resolution and healing. In our developing years, patterns of being dishonored and abused become ingrained in our unconscious mind, and come to feel normal. In order for us to carry on with life, we adapt, much in the same way an animal with a missing limb forgets the injury. But even if it’s unconscious the wound remains within us unhealed. And eventually it comes to our attention. Grown up and engaged in life, we find ourselves in the same difficult situations over and over. Our unconscious wounds from the past are attracting these situations.
Ironically, instead of attracting kind relationships that make us feel better, the wounds of our unconscious attract relationships similar to the ones that caused them in the first place. That’s not to make things worse for us, but to get our attention, so we can begin the healing process.
For personal boundary issues the healing process involves both changing how we behave outwardly, and learning to heal and let go on the inside. The outer change is about developing healthy boundary behaviors, learning to say no, learning not to take on more than our share, and so on. Some personal housekeeping may be in order, as we change who we allow into our life, or stop giving others all the time or attention they’ve come to expect from us. But if we’re willing to put forth the effort, we can make a shift, establish good healthy boundaries, and enjoy the freedom in life they make possible.
Once we give ourselves such an opportunity, we set the stage for the inner healing process. With good boundaries in place, we feel truly safe for the first time, and become able to release the pain and suffering from the past, whether that was from not being honored or appreciated, or from physical abuse, and we can fully heal.
I’ve developed many guided imagery programs and courses about healing from within. And one of them, called Good Boundaries, is about healing old wounds on the inside, and establishing good personal boundaries on the outside. You can find this program, along with all of my work, at TheHealingWaterfall.com. Just do a search on the site, or look for the category called Personal Growth and Recovery, and you’ll see it.