What is a boundary?
Updated: Jan 5, 2022
A boundary is a line that divides us as individuals and the external world. Inside of this boundary lies everything that relates to our lives as individuals, the things we like, hobbies, opinions, beliefs etc. In our social interactions, our boundaries define how comfortable we feel with others, based on our core values and beliefs as well.
Boundaries have EVERYTHING to do with self esteem and self worth. A boundary also determines the access people have to us and of course how far we are letting them go in our relationship.
Boundaries have a lot to do with our upbringing (culturally speaking). If you were raised in a enmeshed family (which only means that you were raised to believe that you and your family were a single unit that had to believe, to choose and to do everything in the same ways without encouraging you to experience the full expression of your own individuality) setting boundaries would definitely be a little difficult for you. But you know what? You can do it!! I did! and believe me I was such a people pleaser and as an empath (a person that feels the electromagnetic emotional states of the energy fields around people) it was a quite a challenge.
The world encourages us to fit in so we can “belong” to society. What the world doesn’t teaches us is that this "belonging paradigms" (in general) are toxic and full of victim consciousness beliefs and disempowerment.
Signs that you need boundaries in your life.
You feel overwhelmed, and feel resentful towards people for asking for your help.
You avoid phone calls and interactions with people who might ask for something.
You make comments about helping people but not getting help in return.
You feel burned out.
You frequently daydream about dropping everything and disappearing.
You have no time for yourself.
The importance of “Avoidance” in boundaries.
Disappearing, avoiding people all along and delaying setting the record straight are ways we avoid situations instead of engaging them proactively. But extending issues by avoiding them will just give them more power and the same issues will appear over and over again. Following us from relationship to relationship. Believe me!!! I’ve been there.
Does your upbringing influence how you set boundaries?
Yes! In my personal experience I was raised in a family that didn’t know anything about boundaries. When my parents were divorcing and fighting for alimony over the phone I could hear everything and I was just seven. Then years after that I developed a close relationship with a family member who wasn’t taught about boundaries as well so she started to vent everything in her life. Even telling me super personal stories about traumatic events in her life. I was only 13. And of course this isn’t about blame how can you blame people that don’t know anything about the subject. But what you can do is to start empowering yourself speaking your truth (in a loving but firm way) and place appropriate boundaries. In my case I placed super rigid boundaries to cover the lack for some.
How you know if you placed the appropriate boundaries?
Ok so in the case of boundaries only YOU can tell whether you place a strong or weak boundary. It is really important to differentiate your beliefs about what’s “the polite thing to do” and what you feel like doing, being, having, experiencing. Remember you are totally in charge you are no victim. When a family member, friend or even a stranger invite you to some place or even ask you something. Be present!! And ask yourself, how does that make me feel? (don’t think about the “polite thing to do”) feel!!! You are a magnificent powerful amazing human being that deserves to live the most awesome life ever and you choose with WHO, WHEN, AT WHAT TIME and HOW MUCH. If you don’t start treating yourself with respect why would anyone should? .
According to Nedra Glover Tawwab in her book “Set boundaries find peace”. There are 6 types of boundaries.
Types of Boundaries.
1. Physical: Personal space and physical touch are your boundaries your physical space is a perimeter around your body. We have certain level of awareness about our bodies and what feels comfortable to us everyone needs of physical space are different people also have views of what kind of physical touch is appropriate these boundaries vary due to the setting our relationship we have to the other person and our comfort level.
Example of physical boundaries violation:
Forcing kisses, hugs and handshakes
2. Sexual: it's never ok to touch anyones body without consent. Touching or making sexual comments or engaging in sexual acts without consent its a violation of sexual boundaries.
3. Intellectual: intellectual boundaries refer to your thoughts and ideas. You are free to have your opinion about anything you want and when you express your opinions your words shouldn’t be dismissed, belittle or ridiculed. Stay mindful about what subjects are appropriate or inappropriate.
4. Emotional: expressing your emotions freely and appropriately.
Example of emotional boundaries violation:
Sharing too much too soon oversharing
Pushing someone to share information that they aren’t comfortable sharing.
5. Material: have to do with your possessions your stuff is your stuff. If you want to share your things its your choice
6. Time: how you manage your time and how you allow others to use your time.
So in conclusion boundaries are limits that you place towards others so it is your responsibility and no one else’s to show the world what you want and how you want to be treated.
You have the Power!!
Nedra Glover Tawwab. (2021). Set Boundaries, Find Peace : A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself. Penguin Publishing Group.
King, P. (2020). How to Establish Boundaries: Protect Yourself, Become Assertive, Take Back Control, and Set Yourself Free. Pkcs Media, Inc.