How to know if you have bad boundaries.
“Boundaries - I need to work on those.”
I hear this sort of thing all the time. Everyone knows they need boundaries, but most people have an intellectual understanding of how they function and are very unclear about how their lack of boundaries is severely impacting their lives. Boundaries are hard to measure. There is no on/off switch for boundaries, which means we need to use our environment to gauge where we’re at in terms of the effectiveness of our own boundaries (and those of others around us).
How to know if you have bad boundaries:
You get exhausted and need to spend extended periods of time recovering from social interaction.
You are constantly immersed in social activities and feel deeply fed by them.
People in your life are not willing to commit fully to you.
You struggle to commit to anyone or anything.
People lie to you or otherwise hide things from you.
You use abstraction, are unclear, hide, or overtly lie to others.
You are underpaid or often find yourself working for free.
You are overworked and often think the solution to all of your problems would be for there to be two (or more) of you.
You are constantly looking for people to collaborate with.
You refuse to collaborate with anyone.
You are easily swept away by fantasy.
You are uncomfortable using your imagination to visualize what you want.
You spend time thinking about and troubleshooting other people's problems.
You constantly ask other people for their advice or what they think about something.
It's not uncommon for you to get "ghosted".
You "ghost" others.
You're overly helpful and accommodating.
You are avoidant.
You worry about being selfish.
You are easily distraught by other people's selfish behavior.
You don't have clarity on what you want to be doing with your life.
You are easily distracted or clumsy.
You are rigid and judgmental of people who are messy.
You use your spirituality or belief systems as a defense against being ambitious or having concrete goals.
You often feel like a martyr.
You often find yourself in situations where you're taking care of others.
Others need to track you down and end up taking care of you in some way.
You believe other people have the power to make you feel any particular way.
You believe you have the power to make other people feel any particular way.
You use control and manipulation to govern how other people are around you.
You decide how to be based on how you experience others are.
People with bad boundaries attract people with bad boundaries. They are a perfect vibrational match for one another.
And the good news is that it only takes one person to break the cycle.
But what's unfortunate is that, due to lack of skill, unwillingness to get vulnerable, and a fear of intimacy across the board, most people break the cycle by closing their hearts, avoiding connection, and putting up walls. This happens in all communities, including spiritual ones.
That is not the answer.
There is another way.
Learning boundaries is not as simple as putting explicit attention on having better boundaries. It comes with experience, with learning to feel, and by being willing to lean into perceived adversity with the trust that you will grow, rather than falter. While safe containers to practice boundaries are key, choosing safety over exploring edges, can ultimately prevent you from discovering what your true boundaries actually are.