All problems in life may be divided into ones we can do something about and the problems we have no influence over. Every one of our problems is either within the sphere of our control or it is not , e.g. it is inside or outside our personal boundary.
Your personal boundary marks the line between what you control and what you don’t. Solving problems begins with the creation and familiarity with a healthy, mature and integrated personal emotional boundary, so that you can easily distinguish what you can control, and LET GO of what you cannot. Spending your emotional energy on what you cannot control is called emotional SUFFERING.
Space inside your personal boundary is your safe space, your COMFORT ZONE. That’s where you feel comfortable and in control i.e. performing routine tasks, communicating with people you know well about things you are knowledgeable about, etc. What lies outside of it is unknown, you feel UNCOMFORTABLE and that produces FEAR. Applied to your relationship, if your comfort zone is determined by your relationship, you will naturally fear a break up.
We often allow our boundaries to develop HOLES. Whenever you get afraid of something that is not an immediate threat to your life, your personal emotional boundary has been punctured; you have allowed an outside influence that you have no control of press your buttons and let your boundary be violated. Whenever you use the word SHOULD, you allow the outside circumstances that you cannot have control over pull your chain. Some typical examples are: “She should not leave me”, or “He should love me.” (Feel free to add those hundreds of your own.) Instead, concentrate on what YOU can do about it now (within your control and INSIDE your boundary) instead of what should be or, even worse, what should HAVE BEEN. What difference does it makes if you think that she should not have left or that the earth should be flat? Yes, you may wish, but you, unfortunately cannot change the past events or the present reality. So, concentrate on what you CAN do about it and CREATE the future by expanding your personal boundary. You cannot predict the future no matter how hard you try. There are too many unknowns outside of your boundary.
Your personality is determined by your preferences, i.e. saying YES to some things and NO to others, consistently. Your likes and dislikes determine your personality. If you are wishy-washy about your preferences and what you like and dislike you are open to punching holes in your boundary, thus having a “weak personality”. Your personality is being invaded from outside and that translates into SUFFERING. When your personal boundary is solid, capable of saying NO and honoring NO (this is where your personal integrity comes in, see The Gameless Relationship on integrity), you are well protected from STRESS. Say NO to stress and it goes away. Stress originates in uncontrollable environments, outside your boundary. You can say no to any influence from outside of your boundary. Holes in your boundary are the places you have trouble “saying NO” or “hearing NO”. Saying NO to things that you don’t prefer and being able to take NO for an answer will only strengthen your boundary. People who have “their buttons pushed” or letting others “get under their skin” have very porous boundaries. If you are being victimized in any way, your boundary has been penetrated. People whose buttons cannot be easily pushed and people with “thick skin” have strong personal boundaries. People who can easily be manipulated by SHAME, or made to feel GUILTY need to start seriously working on their boundaries. But, be careful. You may build impermeable WALLS around you.
Boundary WALLS may be just as detrimental to your relationship as boundary HOLES. Sometimes we learn our lessons “the hard way” and plug the boundary hole too tightly. If your previous relationship was “bad”, say, you were emotionally manipulated, you might have promised to yourself “never again” and close yourself to intimacy with ANYONE. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a good example of how men who came from combat are “unable to feel” anything. It is not that they are unable, they just say NO to intimacy and feelings. They have been hurt too many times and now build thick walls around themselves that even the most loving partner or any member of their closest family cannot penetrate. You’ve also heard people get into generalizations such as: All men are_____, or women are______. That’s how walls are bullet: making generalizations out of you own narrow experience. Being a hermit is just as bad as wearing your heart on your sleeve, as Paul Dobransky, MD would say.
In conclusion: it is matter of your integrity, mental health, and personal development to constantly expand a healthy personal emotional boundary that will not have holes in it, but be able to willingly open to possibilities that will allow growth of your personal boundary and thus enlarge your ability to influence your life. The size of your healthy and mature personal boundary will determine how successful you are in all areas of your life, including your relationships with loved ones.
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