I often share about why and how you should create and maintain boundaries, and one of the biggest things I have learned over the years is this: Your boundaries don't need to be brick walls. They can also be screen doors.
I know this may seem confusing, so allow me to break it down.
I think a lot of people assume that in order to set a boundary, a very firm, explicitly black and white scenario or even a harsh tone itself it necessary.
Sure, if you’re feeling attacked in a moment, verbally or even physically, you may respond more strongly than at another time.
But, you may be speaking to a loved one, a parent, a spouse, or even a child. And you may not only be gentle with your language, but you may state a boundary with the potential for grace or wiggle room.
This isn’t weak, it’s simply a reality.
Essentially what I’m saying is, you are allowed to have a “maybe” or sometimes say yes to something and sometimes say no. It can depend.
For example, you may let a friend know that you don’t want to spend money while you’re working to pay off some debt.
But, you may also let her know that you appreciate being invited places because there may be a dinner now out and then that you’d really enjoy and may be be able to swing.
If this is your truth, it is okay to express that.
You don’t have to say “for this entire year I cannot join you” and create a wall where one doesn’t need to exist. That said, the boundary you’ve created is with the intent to not cause personal upset to your friend when you do mostly say no to her invitations.
Or, perhaps a family member is feeding junk food to your kids without your permission. Well, you’re allowed to make a designation that on your child’s birthday, that rule is on hold.
Respecting you means not ridiculing you for this exception to your rule.
Remember, boundaries help to cultivate loving relationships filled with empathy.
If you don’t state your needs, you cannot expect others to read your mind. If you don’t respect the boundaries others set, you don’t allow them to feel able to truly be themselves with you.
The hope is that we are surrounded by people who love and care about us enough to respect our requests when we are brave enough to voice them.
Can you think of another brick wall versus screen door example of a boundary you feel you need to set, but may flex on at times?