Can We Have Boundaries Without Self Love?

For those of us who live our lives in service to others, it is extremely important that we understand the role that boundaries play.  

As a veteran teacher, I recall mentoring a student teacher one year.  She told me the first day of school that she wanted the kids to call her by her first name.  I gently tried to explain that she was in the classroom to instruct and lead, and not to focus on being friends with the students, or try to be the “cool” teacher. If she handled it correctly, that might come naturally later on.  She refused to listen, and could not understand why the students did not like her, and why discipline continued to be her biggest challenge.

There is a fine line between helping others with healthy boundaries and over compensating due to a deep desire to be liked and accepted. When we behave like this, we give away pieces of ourselves in the process.  Unfortunately, due to the human condition, it is not uncommon for those we are attempting to help, to subconsciously lose respect for us. 

This comes down to self respect.  For when we respect who we are and what we have to offer, we are not desperately trying to get others to love us by over extending ourselves.  Oddly enough, the more we try to get others to accept and love us, since we don’t love ourselves enough, the less they actually do.  On a subconscious level, they wonder why they should love us, if WE don’t love us.

So, having strong boundaries actually comes down to self love.  For when we love and respect ourselves, we will not be people pleasers who bend, twist, and pull themselves into any shape required to gain acceptance.  And just like this student teacher who learned the hard way, we will not obtain the love and acceptance of others, thereby making it far more challenging to be of service in positive ways.

We are all on different journeys and we need to understand that it is not our place to try to take on an experience for someone else.  We can lead, model, suggest and support, but the success will depend on their desire to achieve the goal.  We need to ask ourselves when helping others if we are handling the situation in a way that is most helpful to them, or is it that our ego wishes it to be a certain way?  Do WE have an agenda?  Is it our need to control the situation?  Does our behavior stem from wanting to be loved or accepted or is it about THEIR progress?

Being of service is one of the most important gifts we can give to others and to ourselves, but it must be done with boundaries and respect, or no one wins.