"Here at our American Family Dinner Table, we the family will love and honor each other. We will communicate and bond as a family...You better stop wiggling around boy! We will develop trust that the family will be there for each other...Stop playing with you vegetables, ya hear! As we relish the love that is given and shared...Don't think you're going to get any dessert!! as we relish the love that is given and shared, we will leave this dinner table powerful and secure that no matter what, we will always know that there is love here for each and every one of us...Are you listening to me!? I said, ARE YOU LISTENING!? Don't you dare roll your eyes at me!!"
"I sure don't feel any love coming from Dad or Mom or my sister or brother, then it must be....in the mashed potatoes! And, as frightened and anxious I am right now, I sure could use some. In fact, I think I need seconds... and thirds....and fourths....and more."
A) Keep em outB) Let em InC) Hold em InD) Spit em Out!X E) All of the above"
1) vigilant barriers against harmful intrusions: people, energy, and influences that take away your sense of power and control, your serenity, your self-esteem, your safety and security, your identity, your purpose and dreams ("I don't deserve this abuse, and I will not tolerate it!"). Some individuals have far too open (permeable) boundaries and are vulnerable to being invaded by negative people and negative influences, to be manipulated and, consequently, suffer great pain and harm within themselves and in relationships.
2) nurturing containers of healthy energy: attitudes, beliefs, values, spirituality that you hold that allow you to be as much as possible, as consistently as is practical, the kind of positive, powerful, and purposeful individual you aspire to be- a person who has and lives with integrity ("I feel good about how I handled that- it was the right thing to do"). Within every person exists (or develops if they are children) images of what is means to be a positive "good" person- an ideal self who lives the values he/she owns. These images become the values by which a person aspires to- the do's and don'ts of life. Freud called this your superego; counselors and therapists may call it the internalized parent; others call it your moral virtue or your conscience; and, Walt Disney called it Jimniny Cricket! Individuals with positive self-esteem are able have an healthy ideal self full of positive energy. They are able to nurture their healthy energy that nurtures them. And, they are able to resist energy that may denigrate it. As a result, their actual behavior- their real self performs by or close to the values of the ideal self.
3) judicious gateways to include beneficial energy: while keeping the ability to discriminate against that energy that is destructive and to activate ones vigilant barriers against them, also maintain and develop the ability to recognize, and then to explore, and then to judiciously integrate positive people, energy, and influences (including ideas, alternative perspectives, values, strategies, and techniques) into yourself ("That feels good. I need to learn how to assert myself more too without being strident"). If you feel overly vulnerable to harm, becomes distrustful or cynical about other people in general, suffers from a sense of a lack of skills, resources, and resiliency, then when you vigorously assert boundaries for self-protection, you become likely also to keep not only potential negative energy, influences, and people out, but all energy, influences, and people out, including beneficial ones.
4) effective mechanisms to expel toxic elements: all individuals are initially defined by their life experiences, their previous relationships (especially from their family of origin, and as children). It is critical that you explore and understand how you were shaped and influenced- how you were defined, so that you can chose not to be confined by those previous experiences and relationships forever. Some of what you ingested as a vulnerable, more passive, less critical child or younger person and have internalized may not be adaptive for you now as an adult with adult demands. Without critical examination, these old attitudes, values, and behavior continue to define you, and possibly can confine your success as an adult member in a relationship, as a worker, and as a parent. As you recognize how you came to be, then you can actively create who you want to be. An essential part of becoming who you want to be (a great parent, a nurturing spouse, an effective communicator, a reliable friend...a great person!) involves recognizing, dealing with, mitigating, and expelling negative, hurtful, self-injuring, and disabling attitudes, ideas, values, habits, and behaviors acquired while growing up (while keeping all the great stuff!). Often, these negatives are not only harmful to you, but also interfere with your attainment and integration of more positive attitudes, ideas, values, habits, and behaviors. ("I know I need to be more positive, but being criticized and being critical was how I was raised").
SIGNIFICANCE: Healthy boundaries allow individuals to enjoy and integrate positive feedback from people that are important to them. While the opinion of stranger who has little or no impact or stake in your life may affect you (the little old lady who clicks her tongue and frowns disapprovingly at you and your child in the supermarket), if you have healthy boundaries it is generally only or primarily the opinions of those people that you respect, love, are invested in, that have influence on your life, or are otherwise significant to you that really affect you. If you don't have healthy boundaries, the little old lady becomes far too significant to you...the little old lady who you don't know, don't want to know, who you'll never see again, who probably doesn't remember what it is like to have young children, who had hers in another era anyway, who doesn't take your child home, who won't help raise your child, who won't be paying for the college tuition, who has no idea the kind of day you've been through, who has no idea the game that your child is trying to play on you. Healthy boundaries will keep this little old lady in the supermarket, and out of your life!MORAL VIRTUE: As you grow and develop and experience more and more of the world, you develop values, attitudes, and beliefs of what is moral, positive, appropriate, and/or successful in the world. Healthy boundaries allow you to form and maintain this self-definition of what is virtuous in the face of criticism, negativity, and attack. Healthy boundaries allow you to live the behaviors that reflect these values, attitudes, and beliefs you hold moral. Unhealthy boundaries allow for negative influences that make you compromise your moral codes and behave in ways contrary to them. When superhero tough guy splashes bad guy across the street and laughs/sneers, "Bon appetit you made my day yippee yi yeah!" and a mother's and a father's child dies on screen; when beautiful sexy cellulose free babe smiles coyly and slowly drops the strap off her shoulder the evening she first meets Johnny Stud at Melrose Place in the hood and a mother's and father's child enters the adult world of sexuality at 16?...or is it 15?...or is it 14?...or is it 13?...with someone who she will regret but not forget, does you or your child go, "Yes!" or, "I wish it were me!" Or, do you or your child set aside the hype, the music, the atmosphere and say, "That's wrong!" or "That's not me!"POWER AND CONTROL: Healthy boundaries allow you be more consistent in your interactions with others and the world, and result in greater success in both resisting losses to your power and control and in developing greater power and control in the world. Healthy boundaries are essential to keeping your power and control. Unhealthy boundaries often allow others to take advantage of you, to take away your rights, property, and sense of control- you may feel forced or obligated to do things that you don't wish to do. "Can you stay late for me to pick it up? I have to run an errand first." Once..sure. Twice...ok. Three times? Four times? Again? And again? Can you say, "No. My time is more important than your's." Can you say "I don't want to." Or, do you need to make an excuse, "I'm busy. I need to get home." Can you say "I can, but I don't want to" without feeling guilty. Can you keep your power and control, or do you feel obligated to let someone take some of it away? Healthy boundaries, including values about being "rude" and being honest allow you to keep that power and control.COMPETENCE: Healthy boundaries create better utilization of your skills and resources, and subsequently, allows you to become more prolific, proficient, and competent in all areas of life. Unhealthy boundaries allow for your energy to be distracted and wasted and often creates a less prolific, proficient, and competent individual. Feeling competent affects your self-esteem. "You don't listen," "You're not a good student," "You can't keep a tune," "You're a bad kid," "You're a bad mother," "You're a mean father." Healthy boundaries allow you to keep these attacks on your competence at bay. Poor boundaries allow these comments in enter and diminish the sense of competence and self-esteem.
REWARDS/BENEFITS gained from
INVESTMENT in the
GOALS set to achieve the
PURPOSE derived from the
DREAMS born of the
HOPE allowed by the development of
BASIC TRUST in ones own survivability created by appropriate nurturing from ones primary caregivers- the parents. Or, to put it in a development sequence from beginning to end-
TRUST develops when the caregiver consistently responds and performs within specific boundaries to the infants needs. If the boundaries are too rigid and insensitive, then the infant (or older child, or adult) does not feel attended to. A case in point- some parents decide that going to and picking a crying infant reinforces the crying and develops the subsequent rule of "Never pick the baby up. Always let him/her cry him/herself out," even though there may be times and circumstance that require adjustments; for example, when a baby is ill, or extremely tired, or in a strange environment, or if their baby is temperamentally more sensitive than other babies. On the other hand, if the boundaries are too loose and close, the baby (or older child, or adult) begins to believe that he/she is not and cannot be self-sufficient; the child or adult may not be able to practice at self-sufficiency and become disabled. This syndrome called "learned helplessness" causes individuals to not trust in their own capacity to survive in face of the demands of their world.
HOPE develops when the individual experiences that successful, positive resolutions to his/her needs and distresses are more (significantly more) common than not. As caregivers, or the significant other people in the individual's community, or the individual him/herself successfully manage the environment, create access to tools, and educate for skills, the individual develops stronger and stronger HOPE. If, on the other hand, ineffective or inappropriate boundaries are allowed in the environment, and inappropriate access or inappropriate denial of access to tools and education are allowed, then needs and distresses are not successfully resolved more often than not. Without the safety of managed (developmentally appropriate boundaries) environmental interactions and the security of probable success, then individuals begin to interact with the world without much HOPE- or chose not to interact at all. Orphan babies cared for in large institutional situations with few caregivers (one caregiver for up to twenty to sixty babies), eventually stop crying when hungry, uncomfortable, or upset. For them, since no one responds to the cries, there is no point to crying- they have no hope. Adolescents and young adults who come to believe that mainstream society has nothing for them, may indulge in alcohol, drugs, and other dangerous behaviors because to them there is no point in trying- they have no hope either.
DREAMS can be powerful motivators, but only if they are tangible and practical in some way- if they are within the realistic realm of possibility. Children and adults indulge in dreams all the time. Some of these dreams are fantasies without any chance of realization. These are the grandiose dreams that serve false hopes; they are mental flights of fancy that allow individuals to disassociate from the harsh experiences of everyday life. While they may be fun, focusing only on grandiose dreams- fantasies is unproductive to the individual. Attempts to move toward fulfilling a grandiose dream tend to be short lived and unrealistic. Left unchecked they distract individuals from developing and working toward achievable dreams. Individuals especially young and/or immature ones with dreams often need boundaries set on (distinctions made between) which dreams are possible, are probable, are difficult, are extremely difficult; and which are impossible, are impractical, are fantasies, and even are delusional- lies one may tell oneself to avoid anxiety- that allow disconnection from an overwhelming frightening world. The individual who dreams of winning the lottery as his/her way and his/her family's way of breaking the cycle of poverty, maintains this grandiose dream because his/her TRUST in his/her ability to make it in society is so minimal that he/she has no real HOPE; the grandiose DREAM seems more realistic. Or, there is often the little boy or girl who dreams of athletic superstarism as his/her life success, because the frustration of failing at school overwhelms any HOPE of succeeding academically and in a career. Yet, DREAM-busting is a difficult task for caring people to make for children and other loved ones, especially so many outstanding accomplishments for individuals and for humanity have been motivated by an individual's or people's dreams that others thought impossible.PURPOSE comes from first, an examination of ones DREAMS, and then a focusing of the DREAMS in a tangible and more specific application in ones world. PURPOSE can be seen as DREAMS with the application of worldly boundaries. DREAMS can be open-ended and without direction, and can be enjoyed, ignored, adjusted, forgotten in many different ways, at many different times. If a more enjoyable DREAM comes along, you may go with it without guilt or shame. PURPOSE, however, involves commitment. You can uninhibitedly free-associate when indulging in DREAMS; you can let them take you wherever they want- it does not matter that you go nowhere or somewhere. PURPOSE, on the other hand, creates direction that guides the individual with his/her life, that begins to define choices about time and energy. PURPOSE is DREAMS with boundaries and direction and commitment. A young girl may find that she enjoys working with other people, especially small children. This is a young girl who TRUSTS in her ability to be okay and do well in the world- her parents gave her BASIC TRUST, and as a result she can have HOPE, including HOPE that she can find a career with children. She dreams about having lots of children, about nurturing children, about talking to children, about loving children and being loved by them. Gradually (or suddenly, as the case may be) she may begin to refine her DREAMS: perhaps it is seeing children learn that really excites; perhaps fighting for children's rights is fulfilling; perhaps helping families with direct services is how she will work with children; and so on. She begins to set limits on the DREAMS: working directly with children may not be as effective as working with their families, but might be more enjoyable; advocacy may affect more children but means working primarily with adults. In recognizing limitations and advantages and from applying her requirements (boundaries) on her various DREAMS, she begins to find a more specific PURPOSE. Now, whatever she does (or does not) and what choices she makes (or does not make) will be based on whether or not it serves the PURPOSE she has chosen.GOALS that lead to the fulfillment of PURPOSE follow naturally. Initially, she may decide that getting an advanced education (at least a Masters degree, probably a Doctorate) is essential to fulfilling her DREAM of working with or for children, and her behavior begins to reflect that PURPOSE. As she refines the DREAMS further, her PURPOSE also become clearer, both immediately and over a longer period, more specific GOALS to serve them become more clear to her: taking these classes that teach about child development, volunteering for that program that tutors inner-city youth, applying to this university that has a distinguished political science department; all to prepare her for a career as an attorney and her eventual goal to be a Family Court judge. Without a PURPOSE, this young girl may, like other individuals with grandiose DREAMS and/or unclear PURPOSE, pick and even achieve GOALS erratically that lead to no particular direction. The selection of GOALS also require the defining boundaries of what those GOALS are serving. You may be familiar with the highly successful student who has achieved several academic goals: two masters degrees and a doctorate and still does not know what to do with his/her life. The GOALS were achieved, but they served no PURPOSE.INVESTMENT of time and energy is necessary for any GOAL to be achieved. Some people are excellent at setting GOALS (especially for others!) but are lousy at doing anything to met those GOALS. Boundaries are essential here because no one ordinarily has an inexhaustible supply of time and energy. Careful and appropriate applications of healthy boundaries allow you to invest your time and energy efficiently and effectively. The inability to do this results in wasted time and energy that precludes the reaching of GOALS. Continuing with the example of the young girl who wishes to work with children, once she has set her GOALS, she will have to make sure she keeps enough time and energy to achieve these GOALS. She may have to limit her social time with friends; not take some trip; take the bus instead of buy a car so she can afford the university tuition. On the other hand, she may take an extra class, subscribe to another journal, and travel to hear a specialist speak.
REWARDS/BENEFITS will result from the INVESTMENT of time and energy. HOPE, DREAMS, PURPOSE are served through the achievement of GOALS that result in REWARDS/BENEFITS. A young girl becomes a powerful professional woman in position to have HOPE that her DREAM and PURPOSE of helping children.
"She wouldn't be so out of control," blamed William, "if you were home more.""Don't give that!" yelled Lisa, "She's been demanding all her life! You act like this is all so new!""You always defend her," replied William, "You two always stick together.""You never just stick to the subject," screamed Lisa, "It always becomes me, me, me...my fault for you!""Damn it!" snapped William, "If you would act like a mother sometimes, instead of being Ms. Conductor Lady all the time...""What!? How dare you accuse me of being a bad mother!? You asshole!""I'm outa here! I don't need this crap from you too!"