Boundaries are necessary to allow us to stay in control of our lives and to ensure that we protect ourselves from becoming the instruments of others. Boundaries are often the first area that anyone looking to build their self esteem needs to work on, as the space created by having boundaries is needed to address other challenges.
Healthy personal boundaries allow us to be comfortable in our personal relationships and retain positive self regard. Nobody has the right to dictate to us what we should think, feel, believe or do. For example, we alone should determine who touches us (physical boundaries) or with whom, where and when we have intimate relations.
A person with no boundaries is open to abuse by others and may not even be aware that it is possible to have boundaries. This is often the case where there is a history of abusive relationships in the family of origin. Note: ‘walled’ boundaries, which do not allow anything in or out, are equally unhealthy. They are often erected to prevent further hurt by those who have been deeply hurt in the past.
If you are experiencing the same feelings or problems as in previous relationships or always choose to be with people who hurt you in some way, this points to boundary issues.
Examples of unhealthy boundaries :
– going against your personal values to please others
– allowing others to take from you or invade your personal space
– letting others direct your life
– being open to sexual or physical abuse or self abuse
– not being consciously aware when someone invades your boundaries
– being completely closed to others is also an unhealthy personal boundary
Enough on unhealthy boundaries, here are some ‘tips’ for setting healthy boundaries :
– get in touch with your feelings and values, and live by them
– stay within your comfort zone and let trust develop naturally over time
– know your limits in terms of what you can safely give, physically and emotionally
– ask for support without feeling under obligation
– listen to others but make your own decisions
Reflect on the above in the context of the relationships in your life. Try to be as objective as possible and over time make the changes that you need to make to set healthy boundaries. This may result in the loss of some relationships and the transformation of other relationships. Notice how wonderfully empowering, making even small changes feels.
In taking steps to enforce your boundaries remember that it is only your behaviour you can change. Try not to concern yourself with the reaction of others to the new you !