A personal boundary is a line you draw for yourself. Literally it is where you decide you begin and end. Your boundaries define you.
Many people have a hard time being clear with personal boundaries and that makes for easy targets for boundary breakers, advantage takers and bullies. Whether you work with or live with a boundary breaker you feel your guard go up as they run by you in your new sweater or keep you waiting 30 minutes while texting you their horror story that is everyday life for most people.
Author Brene Brown says a boundary is what is ok and what is not ok for you personally.
flexible on your side
in place to protect you
The same as your emotions, they are not right or wrong. There are physical, emotional, sexual, mental, and spiritual boundaries.
Boundaries are not a punishment to others they are in place to protect your relationships.
Why Have Boundaries?
Ever heard the old saying: Good Fences Make Great Neighbors?
About a year after I moved back from NYC several of my old friends began to notice that several of my newest friends were also neighbors.
Astonished as they would be, I would always smile and say I have always had great neighbors. The kind of people you ring if you overcooked and want to share some food or if you are too sick to get to the pharmacy. in many cases these are people who become really great friends.
If you live in New York or somewhere else where this seems weird consider that the linchpin here is communicating your boundaries. Whenever I meet a new neighbor in my building (and I know many of them) I hand them my card with my home phone number on the back and my cell phone with the word TEXT next to it.
Then I smile and say: If you need anything or just want to hang out, let me know by texting me or ringing my home phone. I promise never to knock on your door without an invite, as I am sure you will honor the same. A look of delight spreads across their face and says it all...it’s safe to smile back!
I now know that this person isn’t going at to show up my door unexpectedly with their pajamas on and a dvd copy of Sleepless in Seattle- or worse...a knock late at night with a drunk waiving a nearly finished bottle of vodka, offering me a drink!
The ‘boundary’ tests new relationships and gives the other person the ability to respect you and your choices.
I would have missed out on some really fun late nights on the roof, fantastic birthday parties and lifelong friendships without this boundary.
How do you determine where your lines are?
When you make a mistake, do you change policy?
How do you react when someone you like breaks your boundary? Do you change the boundary or do you let them know?
You can’t have a healthy relationship with yourself without knowing how you feel. Unless you trust yourself you won’t be able to set or communicate your boundaries. Are you walking around unprotected?
Ultimately your personal boundaries are a direct reflection of the relationship you have with you.
Create a boundary to proactively protect yourself.
You know the old saying. Do it first and ask for permission later. We live in a society that encourages boundary breaking! Where are you exposed?
ie. if you are late for work everyday to support a needy friend on the phone, you are not protecting your new job.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
What are some areas of your life that are most important to you?
How do you protect those things now?
What are new boundaries you can set?
This was a very hot topic when we discussed it at the The Intuition Salone here in NYC in May. If you have anything to add or have any success with your personal boundaries please comment here. We would love to hear from you!