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Rigid Boundaries | What They Are and Why You Need Them

Rigid boundaries are anything that marks a border in your life that you’re not willing to make any changes to or allow anyone to cross no matter what. Boundaries exist regardless of whether or not the line is real or imagined.

Rigid personal boundaries are limits, guidelines, or rules a person creates in order to identify safe and reasonable ways for other people to behave or communicate and how that person will respond when someone doesn’t respect or passes those limits.

Healthy, Rigid Boundaries

Whether you believe it or not, your feelings and emotions matter. You have the right to be loved and are equally deserving of love just as any other person would be. Most of us do not appreciate when we are mistreated by other people, especially when it’s coming from a person whose opinion of us is something that we’re super attached to.

Setting healthy boundaries in a relationship can help each person in the relationship feel comfortable and is overall probably the single most important ingredient conducive for maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships with others. 

Healthy boundaries are an essential part of daily self care. If we don’t have boundaries, then we would roam the Earth feeling lost, taken advantage of, intruded upon, as well as often emotionally and physiologically depleted.

It is highly unlikely that other people are going to go out of their way to protect you, so you might as well start to get some healthy practice in.

Rigid Boundaries Help Us Say No

Rigid boundaries that you simply refuse to compromise on help us take care of ourselves by giving us permission to say NO to things, as well as to not take everything on.

Boundaries draw a clear line around what is okay for us and what is not.

Imagine living your life being completely clueless to these things, like so many people do. While some behaviors clearly cross the line for almost anyone, we all have different comfort levels when it comes to everything from intimacy and privacy to lateness.

When someone behaves in a way that doesn’t feel ok to us — that crosses our rigid boundary — we need to take care of ourselves by letting them know and making that line much clearer.  

Boundaries in Relationships

Boundaries are important for both individuals in a relationship, and for the health of the relationship itself. Without clear boundaries, we may feel resentful, taken advantage of and eventually shut down and withdraw, and it may even lead to codependency.

It can affect our sense of self-esteem, self-worth and overall personal and interpersonal comfort level.

Clear, rigid boundaries allow us to remain connected, and communicating these boundaries shows our respect for the relationship because we’re willing to put in the work to ensure that the relationship stays strong and safe.

Protecting Your Energy — Interior Boundaries 

I just cannot express in words how important it is to figure this stuff out in life early. Energetic boundaries. Your energy must be protected at all costs.

Unless we set boundaries to protect our energy, people will continue to overstep their boundaries, overstepping what we allow and what we don’t allow. This will continue to happen in our lives until rigid boundaries are set.

If you become very centered inside yourself with your inner boundaries, then you honestly won’t really have to waste much time setting outer boundaries.

Once you start getting inside your own body, getting in touch with your INNER energy, you’ll notice that people have a tendency to recognize these qualities in you without you even having to explain them.

My Happiness Was Their Happiness

There was a time when a person would reach out to me who might have been having a bad day, and I used to find that my happiness was their happiness.

I would associate my level of feeling good with how other people felt. So I thought it was my responsibility to make other people happy.

This process would cause me to feel super inauthentic. There were times I wanted to say what I really felt, and I would always back away and experience this awkward tension.

I used to also hold back out of fear of losing this person’s love and or validation. I have had times in the past where I was extremely busy and had a friend’s birthday party that was 5 states away.

Instead of recognizing this as an opportunity to set or practice setting rigid boundaries, due to the inner pressure and feelings of obligation, I etched out 4 whole days in order to make this birthday party.

It would have never even occurred to me that I could have said no.

Rigid Boundaries Mean Saying No

Today, I can say “you know what, I love you, but there are other things I need to focus on right now.”

Again, before, it would have never occurred to me that there was an option. If I let you down, then that means I’m letting myself down. I know that sounds silly, but I’m sure you’re laughing because you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Another asset that comes along with setting rigid boundaries is no longer giving off the impression that I will just let people walk all over me. My life feels so much more authentic, and I live in a much more unapologetic way.

Setting Boundaries Is a Choice

You have to make the choice to set boundaries. When you say things like “letting go of what other people think is hard,” the only reason that it really feels hard is that you have just not yet fully made the choice.

This is about making the choice. It can be so hard to let go of an old relationship. In reality, it’s not the relationship that’s hard to let go of, but having to make the choice of having to let go of that relationship is what we are truly coming up against. 

We often get tricked into thinking that it is our responsibility to make other people happy. We fall for this trick, abandoning ourselves in hopes that if I make you happy then maybe I can be happy. 

We must stop this, especially if this was something that was passed down from our parents. Maybe a parent abandoned you physically or emotionally growing up. This can cause you to have unhealthy or nonexistent boundaries.

Another reason you must make the choice to set inner and outer boundaries is that if you don’t, you will continue to be living for other people instead of yourself.

You will often scratch your head and wonder “why do I feel so drained?” “Why do I feel so depleted?” You just keep giving and giving to other people.

Imagine what this would look like after 5 solid years of it? I hope that before that time comes, that you can see just how much this is not serving you. Make the choice to set rigid boundaries.

Not Setting Rigid Boundaries Means Training People to Take Advantage of You

If someone is able to come up to you and take things from you and demand things from you, and you just keep saying yes, know that you have trained this person into thinking and believing these things.

Because you let them do it to you once, you then justified it, and it’s now happening over and over and over again.

The key here is to realize that, as I become more authentic and make the choice to set inner and outer boundaries, people are then going to actually start respecting you.

Without inner and outer boundaries, I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. People will not respect you.

Respect literally is gone unless we are respecting ourselves. If we don’t set rigid boundaries, you will constantly be feeding into someone else’s mindset or frame of mind, doing things constantly at the expense of ourselves.

In order to be successful, we have to be living in our own frame and vision. Rigid boundaries, both inner, and outer, will make this possible.

Take Setting Boundaries Seriously

Hopefully this has given you a reason to start taking boundaries seriously. If you don’t, it can lead to depression or anxiety.

Hopefully you already are, and this short essay could be used to just validate that and we can both move forward together whilst no longer letting the world walk all over us.

Let me know in the comments if you’re struggling to set rigid boundaries, and I’ll be happy to try to help.

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Ryan Henderson

Ryan Henderson is a magician and mental health advocate.