We usually think of boundary setting as defining where our ultimate line is - the one you don't cross "or else." And we often feel righteous indignation when someone steps on that boundary - that we are justified in reacting however it is we react because our boundaries have not been respected and the line has been crossed. In other words, we use boundaries as a means to justify our self-defensive behavior.
But boundary setting is really much more than that. When done in a truly respectful way, boundary setting can heal relationships and help us truly experience the freedom to be who we are in both our personal and professional lives. Boundary setting is key not only to respecting ourselves but to respecting everyone else around us. And when we respect those around us, our relationships fluorish and our lives take on much deeper meaning because we are acting from a place of integrity and truth.
Setting boundaries isn't about blame. It's about learning what it is you truly want in life, what makes you feel good about yourself, and what makes you honor yourself. When you are truly in touch with what it is that satisfies you, what makes you feel good about yourself, you move into a place of respect for who you are, and when you come from that place, you respect others as well. Expressing your boundaries is then about expressing respect for both yourself as well as others.
If you are unhappy with the relationships in your life, whether they be personal or professional, I would wager that somewhere you have not respected your own boundaries. When you don't respect your own boundaries, lines get blurred and the blame game starts. Sometimes the blame is towards yourself, often towards others, usually a bit of both. Setting boundaries doesn't mean that your relationship will be pain free, but it does mean that you approach it from a place of respect and integrity, and approaching it from that place ensures that you will feel good about your own choices.
How good are you at setting boundaries? Do you know where your boundaries are, and do you respect them yourself? Not respecting your own boundaries sets you up for being "used," resulting in blame. "Respecting" them too much puts you in a position of having to be "right" and alienates you from those around you.
Ultimately, the responsibility for respecting your boundaries stands with you. When you truly respect your own boundaries, you silently demand that same respect from others without having to move into anger, guilt, or blame. Your focus is on you and what you want from your life, not on how others walk all over you or rub up against you. And at the same time, you begin to respect others and their boundaries, whether or not you agree with them.
Setting respectful boundaries is the beginning of true communication. And true communication is the beginning of successful relationships in every area of your life. And because life is, in the end, about relationships, setting boundaries is ultimately about success.
What boundaries have you not respected in your life that have kept you from your own success?