While more and more people agree that boundaries are necessary and healthy, there are still some common myths in society that may unconsciously prevent us from setting healthy boundaries. Here are some of them:
Myth 1: Boundaries push people away
Truth: There is a common fear among people that boundaries push people away. This could be a risk if an individual has rigid boundaries but it is not the case for healthy boundaries. They increase the level of trust in the relationship. Healthy boundaries are the foundation of a healthy relationship.
Boundaries allow us to be closer together and increase safety in a relationship. As a result, they increase the level of trust in a relationship. If we don't set healthy boundaries, it is also common that we feel more resentful over time. Resentment disconnects us from the other person. We can prevent resentment if we respect our boundaries.
Myth 2: Love has no boundaries/ love is limitless
Truth: The saying that love is limitless is commonly used. However, it simplifies the complex dynamics of relationships and may easily get out of hand if we are in a emotionally abusive or toxic relationship. While love may be limitless, relationships need healthy boundaries.
Healthy love includes having a balance between loving the other person and respecting ourselves. A relationship needs autonomy and intimacy. If we do not respect our boundaries, we are not respecting ourselves. Love alone is not enough for a relationship. A relationship also needs respect and mutual growth. Since respect is the foundation of love, we do not act loving towards ourselves if we ignore our boundaries. Furthermore, we allow the other person to get to know us better if we communicate a boundary.
Myth 3: If I set boundaries, I am selfish.
Truth: If I put myself first, I can give my energy to more people.
This belief is common amongst parents when it comes to setting boundaries with their children or people in the helping profession. Do you remember the safety procedures in an airplane in case of loss of cabin pressure? It says that you have to put on your mask first before you can help others. Why do they have this rule? If you help others first, you’ll run out of oxygen very quickly and won’t be able to help anybody. If you put on your mask first, you can help more people.
The same is true for our relationships: If you feel drained, resentful, and exhausted because you neglected your boundaries, you cannot help anybody. However, if you learn to put ourselves first, you have more energy to give to others. I am not saying that it is as easy as it sounds. Some people have learned as children to take care of their parents due to various reasons, e.g. a parent was sick or using substances. Therefore, it may take time to learn to put yourself first.
Healthy boundaries allow us to feel safe in relationships and build more trust. They support us in having a healthy balance between loving the other person and loving ourselves. Last but not least, you can support people in a better way if you put yourself first and set healthy boundaries.
What myths have you learned about boundaries? How could you challenge them?
Photo by Timo Stern on Unsplash