The importance of personal boundaries and how to establish them

What are personal boundaries

I made a poem that talked about boundaries some months ago (the poem is called People Pleasing). It was a habit I had, something that I developed and that somehow reassured me, while I wasn’t genuine. I couldn’t be genuine, I was so afraid of being rejected. Of being alone and lonely. So I wasn’t always honest and agreed with things I didn’t agree with. I wasn’t being myself. It was a pattern that I knew two things about:

The first thing was that I knew why I had that defense mechanism;

The second thing was that it could change.

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According to Wikipedia:

Personal 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. This concept or life skill has been widely referenced in self-help books and used in the counseling profession since the mid-1980s.

According to some counselors, personal boundaries help to define an individual by outlining likes and dislikes, and setting the distances one allows others to approach. They include physical, mental, psychological and spiritual boundaries, involving beliefs, emotions, intuitions and self-esteem. Jacques Lacan considered such boundaries to be layered in a hierarchy, reflecting “all the successive envelopes of the biological and social status of the person”. Personal boundaries operate in two directions, affecting both the incoming and outgoing interactions between people. These are sometimes referred to as the “protection” and “containment” functions.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_boundaries

The way we create boundaries is by asserting ourselves and communicating to others our rules, values, likes or dislikes. The other person can then understand our limits in order to respect them. Communication is key. It allows us to have deeper and harmonious relationships.

Personal boundaries can also be important for understanding who should and should not be in your life. Some people understand boundaries very well and things go very smoothly. Others don’t. They may hurt you, take advantage of you, etc.

Boundaries are there to protect you. They define you, like an outline. They can change over time but they are our sensibilities, traumas, scars, etc.

Learning to set healthy personal boundaries is necessary for maintaining a positive self-concept, or self-image.

It is our way of communicating to others that we have self-respect, self-worth, and will not allow others to define us.

Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their presence helps us express ourselves as the unique individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.

It would not be possible to enjoy healthy relationships without the existence of personal boundaries, or without our willingness to communicate them directly and honestly with others. We must recognize that each of us is a unique individual with distinct emotions, needs and preferences. This is equally true for our spouses, children and friends.

Source: https://www.essentiallifeskills.net/personalboundaries.html

Depending on who pushes your boundaries, there are different ways to react and defuse the situation. If it’s an older relative, you can ignore it and avoid them. But if it’s someone close to you, it’s really hurtful but you still have to react. Don’t overreact but be assertive.

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Deciding “I want this and that” and “I don’t want that and this”. Taking charge of your choices means taking charge of your life. It’s one of the most empowering things you can do.

Before, I feared to say “no” to some people and the consequences were not pleasant. When I started saying “no” to people, things started to change. I lost the fear of saying “no”. The fear of losing someone over a disagreement. It wasn’t meant to be, as many people say. You can believe whatever you want, just keep in mind that having boundaries is a natural and important part of life.

You start to understand that you were the source of the problem. Some of your choices weren’t the best and you chose the wrong inner circle. Being with people that drugs,  sadistic, unstable, almost psychopathic (or full-blown psychopath, who knows?), antisocial, narcissistic, dangerous, toxic and other types of people you want to share your life with. Choose your company wisely.

Afraid or unafraid, go for it. Say “no”. You may lose the person. Keep track of the pros and cons of having that person in your life. If it’s manageable or not. Say “no” and see how the other person reacts. “I don’t want to talk about this” should be enough for someone to understand that you’re not enjoying the conversation, for example.

When you have boundaries, you start to not fear invalidation as much. You just react to injustice or something else that bothers you.

 

Types of boundaries

There are three types of boundaries: rigid, porous and healthy.

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Source: https://uhs.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/relationships_personal_boundaries.pdf

We usually have different boundaries for different settings. It can be porous at home and rigid at work, for example. There can be a mix of characteristics of the three types.

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Important facts about personal boundaries and how to establish them

-Everyone has the right to personal boundaries. You should take responsibility for how you let others treat you. Boundaries are like filters allowing what is acceptable in your life and what is not. Without boundaries, our self-worth comes from others. In order not to be in that situation, it’s important to define strong and clear limits so that others will respect them and stick by them. Another fact related to this is that, usually, people with weak boundaries have a tendency to violate the boundaries of others.

-You should believe and trust in yourself. Deep down inside, we always know what’s best for us but sometimes we just do what feels better, without really thinking in our self-interest. Or to please others. You are a specialist in yourself. No one knows you better than you do. You always know what you want, appreciate and need. Taking responsibility for your boundaries means taking care of yourself and others. Once we understand what personal boundaries are, we are more likely to respect the ones others have.

-Define what is unacceptable for you. Communicate with other people when they disrespect you or act inappropriately. Never be afraid to tell others when you need space. We all need space to recharge, from time to time. Be unapologetic about who you are. Define what actions you must take when people cross the line and use those strategies, whenever you need.

-And, most importantly, learn how to say no. As I said before, this is sometimes a challenge but once you understand the advantages, it’s really a life saver. Be assertive and stick by what you believe. We need to be selfish to a degree and put our needs first. As a former people pleaser, I tell you, it’s not the best way to live. We do things that are not good for us, for the sake of others. We let others control and manipulate us. Saying no can be liberating and save us a lot of trouble. Don’t be afraid to try it. It’s empowering.

 

How strong are your boundaries? How do you deal with your boundaries and other people’s boundaries? What is the importance of boundaries?

Much love to you all and I hope it helps someone. If it helped you, let me know.