Anger is a natural consequence of living through childhood trauma, the leading cause of complex post-traumatic stress disorder. As children, many survivors were hurt by people who needed to care for them but didn’t and used them for their purposes.
One of the most dynamic causes of anger in survivors is the missing or the lack of setting and maintenance of appropriate boundaries. This article will examine boundaries and how anger explodes onto the scene when they are not respected.
What are Boundaries?
A boundary is a line that separates us from one another. Boundaries separate us in physical space, our feelings, our needs, and our responsibilities from other people. Boundaries are also what tell others how they can and cannot treat you. Without healthy boundaries, people can’t tell where you end, and they begin and sets you up for being used.
Healthy people will respond to someone crossing their boundaries by providing feedback to the other person, saying it isn’t okay as boundaries are worthless unless you enforce them.
Some people will respond well and accept a boundary, but others will challenge your boundaries in an attempt to control you and your actions.
Boundaries create an appropriate separateness that allows you to know your feelings, make your own decisions, and know who and what to ask for without people-pleasing.
Healthy boundaries are necessary for good self-care, as, without them, you will feel depleted, intruded upon, or taken for granted. It doesn’t matter whether it is at work or at home; poor boundaries lead to resentment, hurt, burnout, and anger.
Setting boundaries that are meaningful to us is critical if we are to have healthy relationships with friends or intimate partners. We choose who we interact with, and we feel violated if we feel someone is trying to take advantage of us.
Interacting with others who have poor boundaries is frustrating because you cannot gauge who that person is or what they need. It may be more difficult for people with mental health issues to build healthy boundaries because they have suffered so many violations that they have lost their drive. Often, one only feels they have violated a boundary of individuals living with mental health challenges when they either become abusive or do not connect with us anymore.
Feeling confused, anxious, or drained are all signs that our boundaries have been crossed and that it is time to act and build them back up again. Only when we have built healthy boundaries and maintained them can we feel respected and safe.
The first step is knowing your rights for a healthy relationship to build healthy boundaries.
You have the right to:
Feel safe in a relationship
Have your privacy and boundaries respected
Be appreciated and valued for you
Respect your answer when it is no
Have your needs met
Be treated respectfully without any abuse
By the way, these rights pertain to not only adults but also to children.
Recognizing Personal Boundaries
Building personal boundaries is necessary to feel happy and content, and they can range from rigid and strict to almost nonexistent. If you have rigid and strict boundaries, you might:
Seem detached from others, even intimate partners
Keep others at a distance
Avoid close relationships
Have very few close friends
If your boundaries are too weak, you will feel overcome by other’s requirements of you, and you might also:
Find it difficult to say no
Get too involved with other’s problems
Become a people-pleaser out of fear of rejection
However, a person with healthy boundaries makes their expectations of others clear. They establish what behavior they will accept from others and what other people can expect from them.
With healthy boundaries, you might:
Understand your needs and wants and know how to communicate them
Value your own opinions
Accept when other people tell you “no.”
Boundaries can change depending on the situation. You might exhibit strict boundaries at work and be looser at home with family and friends.
It is vital to not only set boundaries and expect others to respect them but that you respect others’ boundaries as well. This is the adult and courteous way of behaving.
Dealing with Those Who Disrespect Your Boundaries
Everyone experiences during their lifetime people who do not respect our personal boundaries. These folks are toxic and leave us feeling bad about ourselves and our lives. The question becomes, how do you deal with someone who doesn’t respect your boundaries?
It would help if you also kept in mind how much emotional energy you wish to expend. If the other person drains, you need to make some hard decisions. There is no quick way to fix it when someone disrespects your boundaries, but you do have choices in responding to boundary violations.
One choice is that you can disengage from the person who has disrespected you. However, this choice is not always possible or desirable.
Another choice is to limit the time you are exposed to the person who will disrespect your boundaries. Decide ahead of your visit how long you will remain in their presence. Can you handle them for 30 minutes? How about one hour? Perhaps 3 hours?
Everyone and every situation are different but remember not to allow someone else to harm you by repeatedly crossing your boundaries. If they do, give them an ultimatum and explain that you are limiting your time with them.
Stuffing Anger When Disparaged
Everyone has had the experience where a friend or family member disrespects a boundary, but instead of confronting them, we say nothing and choose instead to seethe in anger.
One consequence of not maintaining healthy boundaries and enforcing them is that resentment grows, and the anger turns inward. When you turn anger inward and leave it unexpressed appropriately, you set yourself up for depression and other mental health problems.
The trick is not to push the anger deep inside yourself. Instead, find a person who will listen and talk about your feelings if you cannot confront the person who hurt you.
Talking to someone you can trust will relieve the pressure and allow you to move forward.
Ending Our Time Together
A boundary is a barrier that separates us in physical space and clarifies how far someone may go when getting involved in your life. Without healthy boundaries, others cannot know how you feel about what they are doing.
You have the right to have boundaries and every right to feel anger when someone disrespects your boundaries. Adults are supposed to respect one another and not spend their time trying to control someone else. Your anger is righteous anger when you make your needs and desires known, and someone stomps all over you.
You need to set boundaries and maintain them, especially when dealing with people who are disrespectful of them. If someone disrespects your boundaries, you have the right to act, even if it means never speaking to that person again.