Are Your Boundaries Actually Walls?

This comes up a ton with clients

At one point you let someone into your life, and despite your hesitations, your walls came down. You opened your heart.

You courageously chose to love with your entire being
and then…
and then…
and then…

When they betrayed you, you had no choice but to rebuild. 

The walls around your heart rebuilt themselves, and for good reason: Your intention is and has always been safety.

Walls are a wonderful tool, but they are meant to be temporary. Walls and boundaries are often used interchangeably, but they are dangerously different.

Walls are built in the context of war. They are built with the expectation of attack. They are built in anticipation of an invasion.

Walls keep people out. Their very presence says, “don’t invade and betray what I am trying to protect.” Walls are built out of fear.

walls and boundaries, healthy boundaries, difference between walls and boundaries

Boundaries are created in the context of sports. Soccer fields have boundaries to contain the game. If a player so much as taps the ball one inch over the line, the other team takes possession and controls how play moves forward. If players step out of bounds there are certain protocols in place to get back in the game. At halftime, the players switch sides. They step onto the side of the other team and adopt their boundaries.

Boundaries are malleable and adaptable. They are built in the spirit of play.

Boundaries in our life:

  • Tell people this is what is and is not allowed in the game called your life
  • Help players move toward their goals in a fair way
  • Set guidelines that penalize people who step out of bounds
  • Set the expectation that all players want to play fairly and will reinforce the rules equally
  • Unlike walls, which stand long after the battle or threat of invasion passes, change once the game ends
  • Assume that there is a set amount of time to show up and win

Like in a  game, some relationships lose and in that case you have a healthy handshake and walk away. Some call this conscious uncoupling.

Unlike boundaries, walls are always out of context. They are built in a traumatic moment but end up standing years later. Ironically out of context, walls built to protect end up harming you and the safe people they are keeping out of your life.

All relationships need boundaries. They assume good intention, but enforce rules that give you back possession and control when another person steps out of line.

Your heart is bent on opening, but circumstances in your life have felt like war. Your logic will tell you walls are necessary, that based on your past, future betrayal is inevitable. But lean not on your own understanding my loves. Let yourself be renewed by the transforming of your heart and the boundaries it needs to feel safe.

  • What are your walls?
  • What moments taught you to build them?
  • What boundaries are you being called to set in place to keep your peace in the future?
  • What steps need to take place if someone in your life steps out of bounds?

Walls anticipate attack.
Boundaries anticipate fair-play.
Walls remain long after the battle is over.
Boundaries change depending on the type of player, the sport and the goals of both teams.

If you’d enjoy further guidance in healing the wounds that built your walls, I am in the process of writing my next book, The Courage to Trust Again. I need volunteers who would like to participate in the creation of this book. Get on the list to participate in a 21 Day Devotional on healing broken trust between yourself, others and God.

May we heal fully, live freely and love boldly,

Jackie Viramontez

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