I used to think boundary setting was hard — almost impossible — when I first realised what an unboundaried existence I had. This was when I mistakenly conflated avoidance and distance with boundaries. I’ve now learned that boundaries have nothing to do with avoidance, or distance even. Also, like with everything, a little consistency and practice has helped me get better at what I once thought was impossible. I have experienced what healthy boundaries can do in the closest relationships in my life. And like everything else, getting to one level of progress invariably opens up the road ahead, and gives me a view on how much more there is to be done. Allied aspects of setting boundaries have revealed themselves, my understanding of it has deepened. For example, I have realised how much I still would like to control outcomes. How badly I sometimes want “good” endings. How much I wish and try to mould them. How high my need to be seen as “good” is. All this, even as I am firm about boundaries.
The hard part has been realising that setting healthy boundaries comes with the added practice in learning to let go of the outcomes. And that includes being okay with imperfect, abrupt endings. Being okay with people not liking the boundary. Being okay with me not being liked for setting it. I’ve seen this to be especially true during phases when I’ve experienced rapid, constant, visible change. There have invariably been people who have been jarred by it, some people who suddenly no longer fit, some people with whom I feel the need for new boundaries, some with whom I have want to change up the boundaries. All of this is not going to uniformly go down well across the board, with everyone alike.
I’m learning that part of being better with healthy boundaries is to also get better at letting go of the need to please, and to that extent control the way the other feels about my boundaries. To be accountable only for my actions and emotions, and leave the outcome, the responsibility of the reactions and responses to the other. And I’m trying to be unhurried about learning this.