Why We Suck at Setting Boundaries

How language and accountability reinforce our dysfunction.

HOW WE SPEAK and hold others accountable reinforces a myth about personal responsibility. Do any of the following sound familiar?

  • “You make me mad”,
  • “On our wedding day you made me the happiest person in the world”,
  • “Our 2020 F150 Toyota truck will give you the feeling of rugged power”.

Our language supports a belief that how we feel is determined by other people or outside events.

Next, lets talk about accountability. Have your kids ever pretended to cry to redirect the blame for something to a sibling? Have you ever punished yourself for feeling guilty or full of shame by someone else being disappointed in your decision not do something they wanted? Do you ever feel responsible for an employee who didn’t improve their behavior or quality of work? If any of the above sounds familiar, you probably live by the myth that how we feel is not up to us, because boundaries are sloppy.

How we speak and hold ourselves and others accountable can result in the following dysfunctions:

  • We get far too involved in another people’s business,
  • The boundaries between what you are responsible for and what others are responsible for get blurred,
  • Increased interpersonal drama,
  • We feel we have to “fix” others,
  • We spend tremendous amount of mental energy worrying about how others feel about us,
  • Our self-worth is not in our hands but is in the hands of others.

An important lesson we all have to learn is to be responsible for ourselves, let others be responsible for themselves, while continuing to be compassionate and supportive.

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“Whatever you are willing to put up with is exactly what you will have.”

– Anonymous