The subject of boundaries is so fraught with misunderstanding, that it seems appropriate to write yet another article about it. Poor boundaries, or entirely missing boundaries always speak of a lack of love for the self, and while this may appear logical to the discerning reader - if such an emotionally weighted topic can be described as logical - it is the difficulty in going about loving the self when there have not been healthy models to build on in childhood, that creates what often appears to be an insurmountable Himalayan summit.
When a client visits me and recounts what many may consider unspeakable acts committed by the spouse or partner, while it may be true that the partner leaves much to be desired, what is also true is that the client sitting in despair or self-loathing in my office, has not had the benefit of a childhood that taught him how to take good care of the self.
We learn how to love the self by imitation. We observe how we are regarded and cared for by others. We see the reflection of love for us in our parents' eyes. These factors alone - when they are done in a loving and healthy fashion - are enough to give us the strength, courage, and knowledge to love and care for the self.
When, however, they are missing, or done only sporadically or depending on some mood, or not done at all, the lesson we learn is very different indeed. Here are some scenarios that depict how we miss out on learning those very important early lessons:
Parents Who Have Not Learned To Love Themselves
Such a parent is incapable of teaching you the fundamental skill of how to love yourself. You're going to have to wing it - perhaps when you are still quite young, or as a teen, or perhaps not until late in life. But it's clear you will need to learn it on your own, without that vital parental support. Why did they not learn to love themselves? Easy: they - just like you - did not have the appropriate role model although you have a great advantage. You've been digging, searching, asking, and reading articles such as this one. So you have an inkling of what is wrong. They may have never managed to get to this point - and remember - it has nothing to do with their level of education. This is, in some ways, very visceral. And it ties in strongly with both of the next two points.
The first point - poor boundaries - will have reared its ugly head frequently throughout the lifetime, either because they themselves allowed others to trespass their boundaries, or because they did it to others. Oh, you had not realized that people with poor boundaries are often the greatest trespassers of others' boundaries? It's simply two sides of one coin.
And the second point - lack of self-reflection - is a sort of corollary of the first. A person who does not reflect on the self - and such reflection implies being aware - is a person who has little real understanding of the dynamics of his/her own poor boundaries and his/her own lack of self-love.
Back to the parents who did not learn to love themselves. Have compassion. If they are still alive, try to imagine what it must have been like for them. Forgive them. And if they are no longer here, forgive them as well. Forgiving and self-love are very inter-related.
But you do understand, don't you, that if the model you are copying has not learned how to walk, you may not learn how to do so until much later in life. And in this case, the issue is self-love. If you don't see it happening at home, the degree of difficulty for you to learn it augments considerably. You will need to become self-reflective and aware in order to get to the place where you will begin to consider and then understand that it is your own responsibility to start the process.
Parents With Poor Boundaries
Such a parent allows others (in particular your other parent, or their partner, should it not be your other parent, as well as their own parents, friends and offspring) to step on their boundaries, all the while describing themselves as peacemakers, or someone who likes to keep a harmonious home. Or they make take another tack and continually complain about how poorly they are treated, they may cry, shout, explode or become depressed because they consider themselves victims, but in the end, nothing changes, because they never learn about how to implement healthy boundaries. Never forget: someone with poor boundaries, who is being mistreated in some way by another, plays their own role in the drama and must learn to take responsibility for their own side of this tango. It is never enough - and in fact, of little use - to blame the partner, because for things to change, it is the person with poor boundaries who needs to change, whether the other changes or not. (Note: domestic violence and physical abuse fall outside the scope of this article).
However, such a parent may also be acting out the other side of the coin, where they are the ones who trespass boundaries.
Either way, a child who grows up in such a household, will not learn anything at all about healthy boundaries: quite the contrary - this child may learn a great deal about painful twinges in the region of the solar plexus each time its own boundaries are trespassed.
Parents Who Lack Skills of Self-Reflection
Such a parent is simply not aware. Think of it. If you are not aware you do not reflect about the self. If you do not reflect about the self, you are not aware. The habit of self-reflection tends to appear when a certain level of awareness of the self arises over and above the mere fact of how others impact on one's life.
Introspection evidently forms an essential part of self-reflection, as does some kind of ability to separate the ego from the self.
A parent who is mainly reacting to outer stimuli in the form of events, people, conversations, and activities, is not self-reflective. A child who sees this pattern of reactivity does not learn the art of self-reflection from a role model, as would be the ideal thing to occur, but rather, if such a child learns it at all, it is because the child begins to question such reactivity on the part of the parent, perhaps first in the guise of thoughts such as: I never want to be like that.
Some areas that need to be touched on in self-reflection are:
· the intention and desire to be aware enough to be able to be reflective
· noticing how you are perceiving whatever it is that is happening
· noticing how you are reacting to whatever is happening
· noticing how you are interpreting whatever is happening
· noticing the inner dialogue that occurs alongside all of the above
· remembering that there is choice involved throughout this entire process
· being willing to make good choices
For the creation of good boundaries we might say that many things have to fall into place and there are numerous articles both on my website and blogs about the subject. However, the most important one is to be aware that your poor boundaries are not caused merely by an inconsiderate or abusive partner, but also by a lack of decision on your part to begin to make some changes. Poor boundaries are the foundation to a lack of healthy self-love and by beginning to shore up that poorly-built foundation (created generally, as said above, by a combination of poor role models in the early phases of life, and partners subconsciously chosen to exacerbate an already difficult inner issue), self -love will surely arise similar to the mythical phoenix that arises from the ashes, and all it requires is the first step of inner awareness to begin to take you there.
For much more about boundaries and how unhealthy boundaries affect your relationships adversely, as well as about how healthy ones enhance them, and about how this awareness can help you move towards spiritual partnership and inner peace, see my new book The Tao of Spiritual Partnership which is now available in paperback format. (The Kindle version is available here)
To download the first chapter, click here
From the Description on Amazon: More exciting than any other kind of relationship you have ever known, spiritual partnership is a path, a Tao, available to you so that you may transform your life. Spiritual partnership becomes background music to daily life allowing you to enhance the process of your growth and evolution.
This ground-breaking book addresses:
• relationship patterns that hold you back from a truly fulfilled life
• the strong connection between sexuality and spiritual partnership
• communication leading to true connection & lasting transformation of your relationship
It is precisely at the problematic crossroads so often encountered in relationships that we are offered the opportunity to create a new foundation based on mutual complementarity rather than need; a free relationship between two people who want to be together, rather than two people who need to be together. Needing another, we are told, is the measure of love, but for a fully conscious individual nothing could be further from the truth. And therein lies part of the secret and healing power of spiritual partnerships.
Praise for The Tao of Spiritual Partnership
“All humans seek the illusive touch of another's Soul, which opens us to the sense of belonging to something bigger than the self. Dr. Kortsch has given us the true "tao" of relationship in this brilliant exploration of emotional tapestry. We will be grateful for this illumination of spiritual partnership for generations to come."
Chris Griscom: Spiritual Leader, Author (among others) of Time is an Illusion and Ecstasy is a New Frequency
REWIRING THE SOUL
For more about understanding the self and inner growth, also have a look at my earlier book Rewiring the Soul: Finding the Possible Self (paperback or Kindle).
To download the first chapter, click here
From the Description on Amazon: Ask anyone, whatever their circumstances, if their life is vibrant, fulfilling, harmonious and happy. An honest reply is likely to be 'no', because to answer a truthful 'yes' is no mean feat. Only to grow psychologically and emotionally is not enough. And only to grow spiritually is not enough either. All three dimensions need to be developed in order to realize your full potential. If you are willing to assume total responsibility for the self and to start what is an on-going journey, you will quickly begin to glimpse the first fruits of the ultimate goal: inner well-being, freedom, peace, harmony and joy. This book sets out the pathway to self-mastery and self-discovery and walking that pathway will be the most exciting adventure of your life.