Wikipedia: /Boundaries/ a life skill for protecting against having personal values compromised or violated
Boundaries are where your personal space ends and another’s begins. They clarify what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable by others. They can be rigid, loose or something in between. When we don’t have healthy boundaries, either we don’t have a strong identity of who we are or we are enmeshed in that of another person (co-dependency).
When healthy boundaries are lacking, individuals may feel stress or anxiety because they often take on too much responsibility for those around them. And they often lack confidence.
Why is that?
In order to have confidence, you need to know who what you value and what is acceptable behavior. Individuals who do not know who their values and what is acceptable, that are in that place of trying to figure it out, often do not know when to say stop or I don’t like/want/deserve this. They don’t know when a person is “crossing their line”, and they never say stop, allowing the poor behavior to continue.
For example, if a supervisor keeps giving you his work to complete, and you never speak up, he will most likely continue you take on his work responsibility until you say stop.
It’s also important to note that you should never have to explain your boundary. It is your rule of what is acceptable.
In order to have healthy boundaries, you need confidence. But in order to have confidence, you need healthy boundaries.
So what do you do?
You learn to say “no”. You have to make decisions, or draw lines in the sand, and creating boundaries of what is acceptable to you in that moment. The more that you become confident speaking up, the more you will discover your true boundaries. In time, when you have strong boundaries, they will become unspoken where people will usually know what are your boundaries and avoid crossing them. Strong boundaries will make you confident, because you know who you are and what you stand for.
It’s important to note that personal boundaries may differ from professional boundaries or romantic boundaries, etc. and they can vary from people to people or culture to culture. If know someone is likely to try to take advantage you, you may have stronger boundaries with that person.
Here are some examples of poor or rigid boundaries:
- Having difficulty saying no
- Being overprotective
- Not know when to say no
- Over-involved in the life of other’s or their problems
- Asking for personal information
- Letting others define you
- Demanding to know
- Being dependent upon the opinion’s of others
- Listening to a person talk about their sexual escapades when you aren’t interested
- Trust issues
- Being responsible to keep the family together
What are examples of healthy boundaries?
- The right to say no
- The right to speak your opinion
- The right share personal information as much or as little as you desire
- The right ask for what you need or want
- The right to cry or express emotions
- The right to spend time with friends without your significant other
How do you establish healthier boundaries?
First: Determine which boundaries have been or are currently being violated or ignored.
Second: Identify the irrational or unhealthy thinking and beliefs involved with the violated or ignored boundaries.
Third: Create new, healthier thoughts and beliefs that will encourage you to change your behaviors so that you will enforce your boundaries.
List your healthy boundaries- whether current or desired. What are some of your poor boundaries that can be modified? What is acceptable and what crosses the line? Come up with at least 5 boundaries for each area: physical (personal space and touch), sexual (all aspects pertaining to sexuality), material (money and possessions), intellectual (thoughts and ideas), emotional (feelings), spiritual (personal beliefs) and time (how you spend it).
Healthy boundaries are your Bill of Rights.
Should someone violate your boundary, be sure to tell them to stop. Identify what your boundary is and tell them what the consequences would be in the future should they choose to violate it again. (For example, if a co-worker puts their hand on your shoulder and violates your no-touching rule, your consequence may be to speak to Human Resources should it happen again.)
If someone does violate a boundary, always ask yourself if you sent the wrong message, or put yourself in that position to indicate that it was acceptable so that you can prevent it from happening again.
My friend John used to joke around about how bad he was at playing cards, so we used to jest about his card playing. Years later, he told a few of us that he was hurt when we used to kid him. I apologized but explained that because he played along and often initiated it, I assumed that he understood that it was all in jest. And if I had really thought that he was a bad card player, I wouldn’t have asked him to be my partner. Ironically, after clearing the air, John continued to initiate the jesting but he had a different emotion around it, like a badge of honor because he realized how often I did ask him to be my partner in cards.
In sum, his boundary (of not being respected) was being broken by himself, and after he realized that we weren’t really breaking his boundary, he was able to relax and then felt comfortable with the chidding. It actually gave him confidence to joke back without fear of hurting our feelings.
Remember- just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t mean that your right has to be granted. For example, you have the right to ask for what you want but it doesn’t mean that you will get it. That’s when you have to decide whether to bend your boundary or to move on to get what you really want.
Do you take care or do you care take?
If you take care, you are responsible for your feelings. If you care take, you are responsible for the feelings of others, which is co-dependency. Recognize that with some people, you may take care and with others you may care take. Allow others to be responsible for their own life. Learn to take back your power instead of giving it away. Do not be a rescuer.