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Understanding boundaries is probably the best starting point. Boundaries are about self-protection, they are not “offensive” or meant to hurt another person. They are like borders — picture your life as a physical property, like a yard with a house on it — boundaries are like a fence around your property. A fence protects your property from people who would take advantage of you or violate you. If there is no fence, people can drive across your lawn, back up and dump their garbage in your yard, even become squatters!
Note that boundaries are like a fence, not a wall! Walls cut off and isolate while fences actually facilitate healthy relationships. A fence has a gate in it that allows you to invite people into your life — it gives you an ability to invite people in for relationship if you so choose, and also gives you an “exit” for when it is time for them to leave. Sometimes, the greatest gift we can can give someone is to say “no” to them so they are forced to do something different. Saying yes isn’t always in the best interest of the person — in fact, it may keep them sick or hinder them stepping up into their own responsibilities. You may feel “awful” when you first start saying no, but you will begin to feel better as you do it. You will soon be free from the hurts and resentments that take place when you enable people and end up being taken advantage of.
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