My last blog post polarized people. I got messages asking why I would be cruel and not give someone more than 3 chances to be my friend. I also got messages from people saying they agreed with me and that they had similar boundaries. Why the polarizing? I personally think it’s because people don’t understand the concept of a boundary.
You see, when I created that 3 strike rule for new friendships it had nothing to do with being upset or offended when someone said no to hanging out. I don’t have bad feelings towards another woman when she doesn’t show interest in being my friend and I certainly don’t wish her ill. I don’t judge her or change my behavior towards her after she “strikes out.” It has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.
I’ve always been a people pleaser. I love seeing people happy. If there is something I can do to make them happy I do it, even if it isn’t healthy for me. Over the years, I’ve been hurt and my relationships haven’t been healthy because of this. When I was less mature emotionally, I would be offended when someone would turn me down from friendship. I was sure something was wrong with me, and I was determined to find out what it was and fix it. I needed everyone to be my friend and was distraught when someone wasn’t interested in me.
I learned about boundaries and started implementing them little by little. At first, it was really hard for me to stick to my boundaries, and honestly sometimes it still is. I hate making people uncomfortable and would rather suffer myself than cause someone else discomfort. However, I have learned that boundaries are the key to true connection and are the greatest form of self-love and self-care. Let me try to explain.
Boundaries are the way you share yourself with others. They are the key to trust and cooperation between individuals. If you think about it, this makes sense and feels true. Why are so many of us afraid of opening up and being vulnerable? It’s because we are afraid of being hurt. We are afraid that we will share too much of our story with someone and scare them off. We are afraid that what we share will be used against us, etc. What if we weren’t scared of any of those scenarios? What if boundaries could make you feel safe? Safe enough to share, be vulnerable, and be at peace.
That is exactly what boundaries are designed for. You create a boundary to protect and share yourself with another person. It’s the key to trust and cooperation between people. Boundaries aren’t only about “ME” they are about “ME AND YOU” and being able to connect. Boundaries require you to be honest and responsible with yourself about yourself. They require you to communicate those needs with others. When the people you share those needs with honor them, you are able to feel safe and at peace. It is a wonderful feeling.
Now unfortunately, some people misuse boundaries and create them to control others. This is wrong and burns bridges quickly. So how do you make sure you are setting them correctly and not trying to control others?
Boundaries need to be set from a calm place where you are feeling grounded. You need to be in an honest and responsible state of mind. You need to understand what’s going on inside of you.
When I created my 3 strike friend rule I was able to step back from the hurt and offense and see what was really going on inside of me. As I matured, I was able to determine that whether someone wanted to be my friend or not, I still had value. I didn’t need to change myself in order to accommodate what they liked in a friend and I wasn’t less of a person if they didn’t jump at the chance of a new friendship. Now, after setting up my boundary, I am able to freely and joyfully reach out to new people hoping they will be my friend. I have no reservations.
If after 3 attempts they aren’t showing interest, I don’t go into “people pleasing” mode and I don’t get sad. I have a boundary in place and I move on. I am at peace knowing that I did my part and I am happy with that. When I make a new friend, I know they are interested in being my friend because of my boundary. Because of that I am able to open up and be vulnerable with them. I am honest and share my good and bad with them. I have wonderful, deep friendships because of this. One of my greatest desires is to be a true and loyal friend. This 3 strike boundary is how I make sure I can connect with my friends in a real and valuable way.
Here are 3 steps that Jodi Hildebrandt suggests when creating a boundary:
1-Clearly state your boundary. Understand what you need to feel safe and at peace. Use specifics: what, when, how, and why. Share this boundary when you are calm and attentive. Use “I” statements when communicating.
2-Clearly state the consequences of the boundary and how you will enforce it. Enforcing your boundary isn’t about controlling another person. You don’t get to say “This is what you will do if you break my boundary.” Instead you say “This is what I will do if you break my boundary.”
3-Don’t set a boundary that you are not willing to enforce.
I highly recommend listening to Jodi’s podcast, Connexions, Episode 21 all about boundaries. I had some amazing aha moments while listening and think you will too.
I wish you all the best in creating your boundaries. Everyone needs them. It’s wonderful to feel safe and at peace and it’s wonderful to make real connections with others.