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Talkin About The “B” Word – Boundaries

fenceHave you ever wondered what makes each of us so different and unique?  Is there a person you admire because they always seem to maintain healthy friendships and work-life balance?  If you have ever been in a counseling setting, or known anyone who has been, than you know the answer to both of those questions is: boundaries.

What are they really though?  Often times, when we began talking about boundaries, we think of something hard and immovable; but let me explain why that is not always the case!

What are boundaries?

Boundaries are incredible because they allow us to express who we really are.  They reinforce, affirm and declare our personal beliefs and values.  They are limits, and/or rules, we establish to protect ourselves from being influenced by others in any type of relationship.  While boundaries can be hard a fast (i.e. I will not tolerate any form of physical abuse in my romantic relationship) or they can be fluid and allow for tolerance.  That’s the great thing about setting limits: they’re personal and can reflect who you truly are.

Myths about boundaries

There are many common myths about boundaries, such as: once boundaries are set, they can never be changed and, boundaries prevent me from being “free”;  but boundaries are exactly the opposite.  Remember, they declare and reinforce YOUR personal beliefs and values, they DO NOT hide or coverup things.  They are meant to create safety and security; not bondage.  If your boundaries are restrictive to the point of suffocating who you truly are, than they are too rigid and somewhat unhealthy.  However, to ere on the opposite end of the spectrum (porous boundaries) can be detrimental too.

Types of boundaries


3 common types of boundaries are rigid, porous and healthy.  Let’s take a look at some examples of each of them below:

Rigid Boundaries:
-Avoids intimacy and close relationships
-Has few close relationships
-Keeps others at a distance to avoid the possibility of rejection

Porous Boundaries:
-Overshares personal information
-Over involved with others problems
-Dependent on the opinions of others
-Difficulty saying “no” to others

Healthy Boundaries:
-Values own opinion
-Doesn’t compromise values for others
-Shares personal information in an appropriate way
-Knows personal wants and needs and how to express them
-Accepting when others say “no” to them

 

The reality is that most people have a mix of different boundary types in each of their relationships. Healthy boundaries in one setting, may not be appropriate in another (behaviors with friends vs. behaviors at work), and there are some instances when rigid boundaries are needed to ensure total safety (such as with an abusive person).  This is why it is so important to know who you are, know what your own limits are and have confidence and self acceptance to use that knowledge and implement boundary setting in all of your relationships.

Keep an eye out for my next blog, Boundaries – Part Two, to learn about determining when it’s time to re-evaluate your idea of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. In the meantime, if you need help from a professional setting limits for you and your family, give us a call at 832-421-8714 or email us here.

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Sarah Howard

Sarah is a Licensed Professional Counselor - Intern, Supervised by Huston McComb, MA, LPC-S. Sarah enjoys working with young adults, adults and couples.
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