To be human means to be vulnerable and so it is incredibly important that we look after ourselves and don’t allow people to compromise who we are. Physically we are vulnerable and this also applies to our mental and emotional sides. Each one of these needs to be looked after and protected from what is or what may be harmful to our wellbeing.
And what boundaries do is allow one to protect their personal space; without them one is wide open to all kinds of things. But just because this is the case, it doesn’t mean that everyone has strong and healthy boundaries.
Other people can be blamed for coming onto one’s personal space or doing things that one doesn’t agree with and yet, if one had strong boundaries, this would be less likely to take place. There will be a times when one needs to consciously enforce them, as another person may not be aware of them.
And another person doesn’t necessarily have to be malicious to compromise ones boundaries. In their eyes, how they are behaving could be normal. This is because we all have our own views about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.
Although this is naturally going to affect all areas of one’s life, there could be some areas where ones boundaries are crossed more than others. The relationships that one has at work could be the biggest challenge, or this could relate to family members, friends or lovers.
Or one could find that this is something that is causing problems in everything single area of their life. Their personal space is then constantly being invaded by others and therefore, anger and frustration could be emotions that they have become accustomed to.
To stand up for oneself and set ones boundaries in an empowered way, is going to feel uncomfortable for this person. They might find it so uncomfortable, that they don’t say or do anything at all. So nothing will change and other people will continue to treat them in the same way.
One may see other people and wonder how they stand up for themselves. Another person might have no problem protecting their personal space, but one could feel that it is not safe for them to do the same thing. What feels safe is allowing another person to do what they want and to please them. And what one wants or needs is then secondary and ultimately irrelevant.
When one has no boundaries it can lead to numerous challenges and some of these can be: saying yes when one should be saying no and vice versa; feeling responsible for what others do or do not do; putting up with people who are disrespectful and abusive; agreeing with people, when deep down they disagree with them; letting the wrong people into their life and stopping the right people from coming in; allowing other people to tell one how they should or should not live their life and many other things.
The Swinging Door
In the western films, the doors not only swing one way, they also swing the other way. And when someone has no boundaries, they can play out a different role. Here, one might not be the one who is constantly being compromised; they may be the one who is causing others to be compromised.
Controlling others then becomes their normal way of functioning. But while the other person will be used to taking on other peoples realties; this person will try to make others take on theirs. To be controlled or to control, are just two expressions of the same coin.
In this scenario one can end up: trying to tell others what they should or should not be doing, thinking and feeling; treating others in a way that is disrespectful and abusive; wanting to make others say yes, when they should be saying no and vice versa and going onto another person’s personal space.
This is not something that is black and white and it can all depend on the context. One person could be controlling in one environment and end up being controlled in another.
Or one person could be controlled in one environment and in another situation; they could be the person who is controlling. So there are many factors in involved here. And what stays the same, is that one has no sense of where they begin and end and where other people begin and end.
While it may be clear that one is physically separate from others, it doesn’t mean that one feels emotionally separate. And this is a big reason as to why one can end up being controlled by others or try to control others.
For the person that is often controlled by others, they are likely to experience high levels of fear in the situations where they need to stand up for themselves. And for the person who typically tries to control others, they can feel a sense of being powerlessness within.
But even though this is describing two people, these feelings can be felt by the same person. So one person can come up against someone who appears stronger or more powerful in some way and ones fear of standing up for themselves could arise. The feeling of being powerless then becomes secondary in this situation.
And when one is with someone who comes across as being weaker and less influential, this fear will remain hidden and their feeling of being powerless will be what is made conscious. The fear is deeper and the feeling of powerlessness is what is on top of the fear.
These feelings will have associations and memories attached to them. So one will regress to the time when these feelings were first formed. And while the cause of these feelings may have taken place many years ago and have nothing to do with the people in ones present life, these feelings will be projected onto these people.
This means that one will act in the same way, feel the same way and think as they did when these feelings were originally caused.
The cause of these feelings could have been what has happened during ones adult years and another important time is when one was a child. As a child, one has no boundaries and comes to learn that they are separate from others and others are separate from them, through how their caregivers respond to them.
So if ones caregivers generally respected their personal space and allowed one to have their own thoughts, feelings wants and needs; then they would have gradually come to see that they were separate from others and others are separate from them.
If this didn’t take place, and ones caregivers generally compromised ones personal space and didn’t allow one to have their own thoughts, feelings needs and wants; then one would have come to see that they are not separate from others and others are not separate from them
This would mean that one would have come to see that it wasn’t safe for them to have a sense of self. What was safe was pleasing others and doing as they say. And to experience this over and over again, would have caused one to feel extremely powerless.
To Control Or To Be Controlled
Through this experience, one could then have come to the conclusion that the only way to feel a sense of power is to mimic ones caregivers. So going onto another’s persons apace and telling them what to do, becomes the only option for feeling a sense of power.
Or one could just end up regressing to how they felt at the time and allow other people to control them. So being controlled or controlling others, can seem like the only options available
But while these can appear to be the only choices, through rising above these dynamics, one can come to see that there is another choice. And that is to have self control. However, in order to have self control, one will have to let go of the feelings and emotions that have built up in their body.
These can be feelings of being powerless and that is it not safe to be oneself. As these are released, one will start to feel a sense of self control and with that one’s boundaries will gradually form.
This can be done with the assistance of a therapist or healer who allows one to face their feelings and emotions and release them.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.