Boundaries are limits you place on what you will and won’t accept. Unlike a brick wall, your boundaries can be flexible and adjusted for different people, places and situations. Being aware of your boundaries improves clarity, understanding and reduces stress. These healthy limits enable respectful relationships which can protect you from being offended and prevent you from offending others.
If boundaries aren’t clear you can get confused about where you stand and then your connection with others is affected. Boundaries help you set limits around your precious time and energy. They also prevent you from being unnecessarily influenced by another’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
A Physical Boundary is the limit you put on your personal space; your personal bubble. You decide when, where, how and who can touch you. You choose your level of physical intimacy and are free to change this at any time. Your da boss of your body!
A thought boundary allows you to make a non-judgmental distinction between your thoughts and another’s thoughts. Our varied cultures, upbringing and life experiences give us different ideas on topics in all areas of life. You are responsible for your thoughts and accountable for the consequences of your thinking, including the feelings, moods, attitudes and habits your thoughts create. As a child you may have been influenced to believe in certain unhelpful ideas. As an adult the choice is up to you but, don’t believe everything you think!
Having clear parameters around feelings helps you own your feelings and develops a sense of authentic self. This boundary helps you avoid taking on someone else’s feelings, convincing them how they should feel and blaming others for how you feel. We often hear the words “He, she or they made me angry.” It is your internal processes, perceptions, thoughts, meanings and learned responses that make you angry. Everyone has different reactions to triggers. It is an individual’s response to the trigger rather than the trigger which causes the emotions. What makes one person angry doesn’t affect another. In truth no one can make you feel anything but you.
Drawing a boundary between yours and others behavior can bring a relief. You are not responsible for another’s actions even if they choose to do something in response to your words. No one can make you do something unless they are being offensive and physically forcing you. You decide your actions and others decide theirs. You also have to deal with the results of your behavior, including your impact on others.
When you know you can respectfully set your boundaries, a sense of trust in yourself develops. You know you can and will protect yourself. You see you are in charge of your life and can achieve your desires. You have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t your responsibility. You are authentic and empowered. Connections improve with the increased honesty and relationships flourish.
Please note: The above description about personal boundaries relates to adults. Parents are responsible for role modeling and teaching their children about boundaries and decide how influential they want to be on their children’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours.