Do You Have Healthy Boundaries?

This week I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life regarding healthy boundaries. It was very sad to do, yet completely necessary. Just typing that sentence has made my left hand start to shake. I can intellectualize my choice, but perhaps my body is telling me that there is so much more that I do not even know about this situation. Maybe there is a resistance that doesn’t want me to share such intimacy with you, buried emotions that aren’t ready to be reveal, or an invisible thread that wants to pull me back?

Healthy boundaries are so important for living a positive and balanced life. Without them it is easy to lose self respect, confidence and in the worst case, a part of our souls. There may be times in our lives when we are swept off of our feet by a lover or an amazing career opportunity. We feel so excited and inspired. Our hopes grow and we see an opportunity for all of our dreams and aspirations to come true. Life seems perfect and the future is even brighter. We make plans and our commitment grows deeper. Along the way red flags appear, but we are willing to ignore or rationalize them away.

  Self Portrait at Cape Kiwanda.

Self Portrait at Cape Kiwanda.

In a healthy relationship we can raise concerns without any fear and a loving partner will listen with compassion and hopefully honor us, as well. Open communication, love, empathy and respect keep us on track as we spiral upward toward our beautiful goals. Sometimes, however, there may come a disconnect. Perhaps our partner has a personal crises and suddenly the relationship is mostly about them. Their needs are suddenly more important than ours and balance in the relationship no longer exists. Concerns are acknowledged, but behaviors do not change. We want to avoid conflict and as a result we let the other person get away with actions that do not serve our best interests or the well being of the relationship. They say that they will change, but things do not improve. Empty promises and an absence of commitment lead to heartache, disappointment, and in some cases depression.

  In the fog of our confusion it is easy to get upset and make drastic decisions. Practice awareness and kindness. It is possible to exercise our boundaries without burning bridges. Photography by Paul Garrett

In the fog of our confusion it is easy to get upset and make drastic decisions. Practice awareness and kindness. It is possible to exercise our boundaries without burning bridges. Photography by Paul Garrett

Healthy boundaries keep us safe and prevent us from sinking into a never ending abyss. We can’t change how other people treat us. However, if they truly love and respect us, they will do the self work and healing that corrects their hurtful or negative behaviors. We can be a loving or positive influence to others, but the only person that we can change is ourself. Drawing a line in the sand is sometimes difficult, because it involves the risk of rejection. This is a big fear that many of us, including myself, share at the core of our being. Boundaries, however, prevent us from falling further in the wrong direction. They are like a firewall that protects us from becoming completely consumed.

There is a flip side to everything, however, and in a healthy relationship we also have to learn how to loosen our boundaries. If we still carry fear, hurt and resentment with us from previous relationships, our walls and boundaries will prevent us from experiencing love and intimacy with our partner to the fullest extent, as Brendon Buchard so eloquently explains in the video above. Fear, jealousy, and a lack of trust will sabotage our relationship with a really good person. So will a lack of commitment, or projecting our faults and fears onto our partners. Healthy relationships grow when we clearly communicate our needs and expectations in a loving and respectful manner. Through awareness and empathy we can become better listeners and better communicators.

Goodbyes are never easy, as I experienced last week, especially when we deeply care about a person who has so much potential and many wonderful qualities. In the end, however, we have to do what is right for ourselves even if it is painful to do so. Disrespect and a lack of commitment are not healthy for any relationship. Over time they eat away at our self confidence and weigh us down. We all deserve to be treated with a love and respect that honors our souls. Love yourself enough to set practical boundaries and communicate them clearly with your partner or spouse. Also honor them by respecting their boundaries. It takes effort by both people to create a beautiful relationship and a total soulful journey.

With love and respect,

Paul

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