Have you felt strongly about something when you’re really irritated, but then forget about that same thing like it was no big deal? Or have a bad thing happen that put you in a rage but then thought, “Never mind, I don’t want to deal with that again! Too painful..?” It’s very common and normal for people to use their anger as an indicator that something has occurred that they do not like and need to change. Identifying your own anger or dissatisfaction with the situation is healthy. However, being angry is not the only way you can learn to have a boundary within yourself and with others.
If you can think back to your childhood, teenage years, or young adult life, you may remember times that you felt extremely irritated, angry, or even full of rage because of something that happened. Do you ever remember saying to yourself that you were never going to let that happen again? Do you remember feeling very hurt and then feeling angry? It is during these events in your life that you recognized consciously what hurts you and created defensive walls between you and that event or person. These are boundaries.
This is essentially how we learn to have boundaries and how we create preferential ideas about what we don’t like. In therapy, these particular preferences are called boundaries. A boundary with yourself or within yourself can be about eating healthy, not smoking, not drinking, something to change a behavior or an experience. Being conscientious about anything that you want to change in your life and making a declaration that you will hold yourself accountable to maintain that stance. A boundary with another person or other people may involve more of your interaction, your behaviors, how you interact, or whether or not you choose to interact. For example, if you are a parent and have a child who tends to have temper tantrums in the store, you may create boundaries with that child around expectations and consequences. That would be a boundary that’s between you and someone else.
So in life, most people tend to create boundaries when they feel extremely frustrated or angry. Anger is not a healthy and effective reaction to use when implementing or developing a boundary. Anger comes from a very primal and reactive place in our minds. So making decisions while angry, even though anger is a clear indicator to how we feel about a situation, can cloud some important details. Anger is not a healthy tool to use to determine how to have a boundary. Although anger is healthy and needed for people to be able to differentiate what is okay and what is not, it is simply a reaction.
Anger is a very deep reaction, full of our emotional pain. Healthy pain, but still loaded with baggage and turmoil. Angry defensiveness and healthy boundaries are different. A healthy boundary is precise, workable, and manageable. A healthy boundary involves personal accountability and honesty. Anger and accountability and humility do not work together. Anger is primal and occurs from a primal portion of the brain, separate from the analytical side. If the anger goes away, then the decision to address the issue fades as well, leaving our true feelings about ourselves a situation or another person unresolved. Unresolved issues cloud reality and keep unhealthy relationship habits alive!