When we look at a manicured flower garden, we see that the flowers have been placed to highlight each one’s individual beauty. We don’t see one flower overriding or smothering another group of flowers. If we see one flower overtaking another, we cut it back, place it somewhere else within the bed, or we totally move its location out of this flower bed. In a well-manicured bed, each flower can shine brightly, showing off its unique beauty. Much like the flower bed, we can learn to manicure our lives as well. We call this manicuring of our lives “boundaries.”
Boundaries are our basic guidelines as to how we want to be treated by others. Sarah Doyle, on an episode of “The Better Life Project,” said it perfectly: “Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional, and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, made fun of, taken advantage of, or sapped of our own good nature and drained of our positivity, wisdom and support.” Nobody wants to feel the effects of having poor boundaries. We feel walked all over, resentful, and frustrated. We are bound to what others want from us, and left feeling like no one hears us. That feels awful in my book!
While we know how awful it can feel having poor boundaries, it also feels good when our boundaries are respected. We also know how very difficult it is to set them and even harder to maintain them. Just like in a garden, boundaries are clearly defined, but they take a lot of work. Human nature is about taking care of ourselves first. The difficulty comes when we have conflicting boundaries with others. Who wins when a conflict occurs? Let’s say one spouse wants to be together all the time and believes that that’s what marriage is all about. The other spouse believes that some alone time is necessary and required to have a healthy marriage. This is when we need to understand the different types of boundaries. . . . . . .