What Are Boundaries?
Boundaries can be seen as standards that you set for yourself and in regards to relationships with other people, whether it may be family, friendships, or intimate relationships. Those standards are there to protect you from anything that is considered harmful in your eyes. Since you are the one setting the standards, you ought to be the one knowing what is good for yourself and what is not.
Why Do We Need To Set Boundaries?
Just imagine a life without boundaries. If you had no boundaries, people would be able to do to you whatever they wanted and you would not be able to say no to anything. Basically, you would have no control over your life at all. What a chaos! Is that really what you want? For a peaceful life and good relationships with others it is crucial to establish boundaries.
Problems With Boundaries:
The problem arises when we get confused about the responsibilities of our lives. There are several things we as individuals ought to take care of, there are things we can do for others as well, especially in relationships we have with other people, but beyond that point there is also a responsibility of the other person. That is a very important fact that we have to keep in mind. We should be there for one another, help each other out when one is in need, carry each other’s burdens but not to a point where you take over the burden onto yourself. Remember that the other person has responsibilities, too. If that person is unable to keep their responsibilities they have to deal with the consequences. Do not feel sorry for them, for it is something we all have to learn. It is part of growing up and leading a responsible life.
How To Establish Healthy Boundaries:
When we want to establish boundaries it is important to be firm and stick to what we say. There is no need for explanations or apologies. At first, it is probably going to feel strange setting a boundary and it may even be hard to stick to it especially when a friend or spouse is not reacting to the change in a positive way. Keep in mind though that you are not responsible for the reactions of others, you are only responsible for setting the boundary. Know that some people will not want to respect your boundaries, they want you to go back to your old ways. In that case, it is important to be firm and not let that affect you, be prepared that some might distance themselves from you or even separate from you. If that happens, let it happen, it is part of life. Let people stick around that respect you. Those are the individuals that will not cross your boundaries and can even encourage you to stick to them and work on setting new ones.
Examples of Boundaries:
- Physical – help us determine who may touch us, how to touch us and when we may be touched.
- Spiritual – protect our spiritual beliefs. Setting your boundaries on who is allowed to know about your spirituality, who you share your beliefs and practices with and how you allow others to interact with you.
- Sexual – you choose who you share your sexuality with, when and how you talk about sexuality, who you share your beliefs with. Sexual boundaries go beyond physical activity; it includes jokes, comments, gestures, what you watch and listen to.
- Emotional – your feelings need to be protected. Your emotional boundary will include how others treat you, whether your emotions are respected and honored and how you treat others.
- Intellectual – boundaries protect your experience of your intellect. To protect how others talk with you, whether your ideas and perceptions are considered and listened to. It also includes your access to knowledge and learning.
Cloud, Henry, and Townsend. Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO To Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1992. Print.