Your decisions are disregarded.
You take on the blame for something that is not your fault.
You feel frustration or resentment about how others treat you.
You experience shame.
You frequently justify others’ behaviors.
Most of us have experienced one or more of these in our lifetime. And many of us feel these statements are reality for us most of the time. While this list is certainly not exhaustive, if you recognize yourself in any of these statements, it might be beneficial to explore the idea of boundaries.
What are boundaries?
Boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits. They are built out of a mix of conclusions, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning. Personal boundaries help to define an individual by outlining likes and dislikes and setting the distances one allows others to approach. Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and, really, a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill.
For example, they may involve what behavior is okay and what is not and how to respond if someone passes those limits. Setting boundaries can ensure that relationships can be mutually respectful, appropriate, and caring.
Why are boundaries important?
Healthy boundaries are necessary components for self-care. Without boundaries, we feel depleted, taken advantage of, taken for granted, or intruded upon. Whether it’s in work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries may lead to resentment, hurt, anger, and burnout.
Boundaries help us take care of ourselves by giving us permission to say NO to things, to not take everything on. Boundaries draw a clear line around what is okay for us and what is not. While some behaviors clearly cross the line for almost anyone, we all have different comfort levels when it comes to everything from intimacy and privacy to lateness. When someone behaves in a way that doesn’t feel okay to us – that crosses our line, we need to take care of ourselves by letting them know and making that line much clearer.
Stay tuned for next time when we talk more about boundaries, including examples of putting down boundaries and helpful tips for the process of establishing healthy boundaries in our lives.