How to Tell Your Boundaries Aren't Being Respected

A photo of two signs, one in front of the other, both say "No Trespassing" on them. They are bright yellow, hanging underneath a bridge or boardwalk.
Michael Dzeidzic

I have always struggled with having boundaries.

Once, I was talking to my counsellor about an issue I was having with a person and she said, "that's a great place to put up a boundary," in a sort of off-hand way. I don't know what my face was doing, but when she looked at me she actually laughed, realizing I had NO CLUE how to do that or what it really meant.

After that, I began to dip my toe into the world of boundaries by looking at them through the lens of prioritizing the people and things that mattered rather than fencing out the things that didn't.

It turns out, however, that establishing boundaries isn't just something you do once and then you're good! (Why am I always surprised when my self-care isn't "set it up and then clap your hands and walk away"?) So I've really enjoyed this list by Anne Write of 15 Signs Your Boundaries Need Work to help me recognize when I've started letting my people-pleasings-anti-conflict-here-let-me-help-I-can't-be-alone-with-my-thoughts tendencies take over.

The list includes the usual suspects like resentment, dread, exhaustion, anger, and feeling like you "just can't". But there was one I hadn't considered before: feeling hurt, but with no real sense of why or how it happened.

That's interesting, isn't it?

Honestly, I always assumed that whenever I walked away from an interaction with a friend feeling inexplicably bad, it was just my depression doing its thing. (Sometimes, it shrinks down real small while I'm busy or with people, and then the very INSTANT that distraction goes away, POP! It expands to fill all my brain-space.)

I will bet, however, that some of those times, I was feeling the sting of my boundaries being ignored. How INTERESTING you guys! It's a whole new face to my self-analysis prism, what FUN!!!

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