Setting healthy boundaries is one of the most popular and important topics that clients and readers ask me about. Stefanie Flores, of The Focus on You, is equally passionate about healthy boundaries. We know boundaries are important, but why do we need strong boundaries? What happens when you don’t establish boundaries? In her guest post, Stefanie explains the long-term consequences of weak or inconsistent boundaries.
The Long Term Effects Of Weak Boundaries
by Stefanie Flores, MA, LCADC
As a therapist who has worked with recovering addicts, the prison population, juveniles, and abuse survivors, I’ve learned there is one topic that we all struggle with – learning healthy boundaries.
Understanding our boundaries, or the imaginary fences around our lives, is a concept that isn’t regularly taught. Yet it’s so necessary for our survival.
In short, healthy boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves. They are the rules that govern our lives and tell others what’s not acceptable in our life. Parents teach personal boundaries when they discuss “stranger danger” and “appropriate touching.”
Unhealthy boundaries include, but are not limited to:
- Telling too much of your personal business.
- Saying yes when you mean to say no.
- Going against your personal values to please others.
- Giving to others in order to feel appreciated or valued.
- Falling in love quickly with anyone who helps you or pays attention to you.
- Jumping in and out of relationships quickly.
- Refusing to speak up about other people’s poor boundaries to avoid confrontations.
What are the long-term effects of weak boundaries?
1. Getting taken advantage of – This can range from your boss, spouse, love interest, roommate, siblings or family members. If you have trouble saying NO, needy people will gravitate towards you. This can lead to resentment in your workplace or your home. In reality, if people are only being nice to you in order to use you, is that relationship genuine?
2. Multiple unhealthy relationships– Our intimate relationships are some of the most precious and time-consuming relationships in our lives. Unhealthy relationships can lead to damaged finances, damaged familial ties, damaged reputation and even worse, violence and addiction. When we have firm and healthy boundaries, we govern the rules for our life, our finances, how we interact with family and our work ethic. If you have children, you hold a sacred key as the gatekeeper of their safety. If someone in your life is not healthy for you, it places your children at risk for witnessing similar unhealthy patterns. Give yourself time in between relationships to assess yourself, lick your wounds and reset your boundaries.
3. Inability to trust others – If a person continues to be taken advantage of by others (boss, partner, family), they will eventually question who they can trust. Healthy boundaries mean you can trust yourself, your decisions and trust that you will be resilient during tough times. The inability to trust others can lead to isolation, burn out and being less willing to ask for help. If your connections to others become weakened, your level of resilience may weaken as well.
Boundaries are not meant to be all or nothing. Our imaginary fences move up and down based on our circumstances. Naturally, people have higher fences after they’ve been hurt. But if our fences remain weak, the long-term effects could be damaging. Therapy, spiritual support, support groups, and/or codependency groups can help you gain the confidence to keep those boundaries strong!
About the author: Stefanie Flores is a Licensed Clinical Drug and Alcohol Counselor in Nevada. She works as a mental health therapist and blogger. Her blog, The Focus On You, is a lifestyle/self-care blog that aims to re-focus your life on your goals and emotional wellness. Please connect with Stefanie on her blog and social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest).
Photo: “Couple Quarrel” by patrisyu at freedigitalphotos.net