I thought I was setting boundaries.
But in reality I was also building walls.
It’s easy to do. To get so carried away with a line in the sand that it becomes the beginning of a foundation of a fortress. A stronghold intended to keep you safe. But that really holds you prisoner.
Do you know the difference between setting healthy boundaries and constructing isolating walls?
Boundaries are rational and deliberate lines that define what is and is not allowed to be done to you. They are communicated and consistent and are less about keeping others out than keeping yourself intact.
Boundaries allow others to see you. Be with you. But they don’t allow others to use you.
Boundaries say, “I’m not letting anyone abuse me” and “You can come in as long as you abide by the rules.”
Healthy boundaries are anchored in awareness and self-respect. When in place by both partners, boundaries allow for a deeper connection because both people don’t feel as though they are threatened by an increase in vulnerability. Although you may be hurt, your self will remain intact.
Examples of boundaries include not tolerating abusive actions or language, refusing to accept the responsibility for another’s happiness or choices and not acting in opposition to your own values and ethics.
Emotional walls are bricks of self-protection mortared with fear. They are erected as a result of being wounded. They are rarely acknowledged and their existence is often only discovered when somebody runs head-first into one. Unlike boundaries, which only keep out those who misbehave, walls do not discriminate – they hold everyone back.
Walls say, “I will never allow myself to be hurt again” and “I’m not letting anyone get close to me.”
Walls are built upon fear. When one or both partners in a relationship is hiding behind walls, a deeper connection forged through vulnerability is impossible. As a result, the partner(s) hiding behind the walls may feel safe, but he or she will also feel empty and disconnected because the true self is not being seen. The wall keeps others out. And it also holds you prisoner.
Examples of walls include never letting your emotions show, deliberately withholding important information from a potential partner and isolating out of a fear of being hurt again.