By Stephanie Miller
Have you ever felt like someone forced you to say something or do something you didn’t really want to do? Has a friend persuaded you to go to a party despite the fact you were exhausted? Have you ever divulged personal information to someone because they were persistent not because you wanted to? We all have these people in our life, the people that don’t perceive natural boundaries. They believe they are entitled to know whatever they want to know, and go wherever they want go. It’s easy to get angry at these kinds of people.
Here’s the thing about these people, they have what I call Boundary Blindness. It’s exactly like color blindness, they lack the ability to know when and where they are welcome. They really are unable to recognize the natural limits and signals that most people in society intuitively understand. Instead of being annoyed by them it’s more constructive to recognize their inability to understand a boundary and to help them by drawing a line.
When you encounter these people it’s up to you to tell them where the border is. And here’s the trick about that: You have to know where the border is. You have to be 100% clear about what’s okay with you and what’s not. People who have no boundaries will go as far as you let them go. It requires self-knowledge to cope with these relationships. You have the right to have a preference and you're under no obligation to betray yourself in order to please someone else. The next time you find yourself feeling uncomfortable. Try these simple steps:
1) Ask yourself if there is someone who is trying to persuade you to do something you don’t want to do? For example: Someone has told you try the birthday cake repeatedly.
2) Ask yourself what you want. For example: Do I really want dessert?
3) Listen to the answer that comes from inside. For example: No, I’m full, I don’t want anything else to eat.
4) Tell the person briefly and politely what you want. For example: No thanks, I’m full.
5) HERE’S THE HARDEST PART, repeat it as many times as necessary or politely ask them not to ask again. For example: Thank you for the offer, I really don't want cake. It would help me if you don't ask me again.
People with Boundary Blindness won’t suddenly acquire the ability to SEE boundaries. It is usually a practice with them to remind them again and again where the line is. The good news is that once you establish that you are a person with good boundaries they will often give up and move on to a more satisfying target. If your Boundary Blind friend, relative or peer is someone you spend a lot of time with it means that you must take care of yourself. You need to make sure you know your own needs and that you are willing to speak up for yourself. In any case, there is no need to beat yourself up when you encounter these difficult relationships. Gentleness with yourself will always yield compassion towards others.