Personal boundaries are a set of rules that help establish safe limits for the behavior of others. Boundaries separate our own “I” from another person, preserve mental health and show what actions we are not ready to take in relation to ourselves.
Experts identify three types of boundaries. In one case, the person constantly keeps others at a distance, physically and emotionally. In the opposite situation, the restrictions were lifted due to the fear of conflict. Healthy boundaries are a synthesis of two options. A person who knows and knows how to defend his space, treats other people with respect and care. Its boundaries are defined by love, not fear and guilt.
© Ashley Batz / Unsplash
How to determine if boundaries are violated
People do not always respect the limits of someone else's space. When the state sets the borders, in addition to the lines on the map, it organizes armed guard posts from violators. This also happens in personal space. Experts believe it's time to worry about border violations:
- if people around you, including close people, do not take into account your interests and condition;
- expressions of concern are taken for granted;
- your achievements are devalued;
- you feel helpless and rejected;
- in cases of physical and emotional abuse.
Psychologists advise you to choose areas for yourself where you need to protect your personal space, and set rules for them. It can be:
- money and property: determine for yourself to whom and on what conditions it is comfortable to lend money and personal belongings;
- information: understand what and to whom it is worth telling about yourself;
- physical distance: listen when the closeness of another person becomes unpleasant, and do not allow the distance to be reduced;
- time: decide when you are willing to sacrifice your own time for the sake of others;
- Emotions: Accept the right to show feelings, even if others disagree.
It will take time to build boundaries and learn to protect them. Experts offer basic rules that you can rely on to develop and train a new skill.
© Toa Heftiba / Unsplash
5 rules for strengthening personal boundaries
Rule # 1: find your boundaries
Determine for yourself what in the behavior of others you are able to accept, and what you are not ready to put up with. People are afraid of the reactions of loved ones to strengthening borders, as this often leads to conflict and resentment. Explain your motives to friends, family, and partners. Healthy boundaries help build harmonious relationships and maintain self-esteem.
Discomfort and resentment are feelings that can help you track when you have crossed boundaries. Rate situations on a scale from 1 to 10. A “red zone” begins at 6 points - this is a signal that someone has crossed the line. It is worth taking a break and checking what hurts you about the person's behavior. This can be an attempt to impose your own views and expectations, or provoke feelings of guilt.
Rule # 2: speak straight
When people have similar views, communication styles and attitudes towards life, then most often they respect each other's boundaries without additional reminders. In other cases, it is worth directly declaring your condition. For example, partners sometimes need to be clear about how much time each of them is comfortable spending together. And a person who considers disputes and criticism an unacceptable way of communication should tell his opponent about it.
Calmly, respectfully, and confidently let the other person know they have violated the boundary, explain what hurts you, and try to work out a solution together.
© Jd Designs / Unsplash
Rule # 3: Train "No"
It is important to be able to refuse and calmly accept someone else's refusal to talk or offer to do something. When a person asks a personal question, it's okay to clarify why he is asking about it or refuse to answer. Do not make excuses for your own boundaries.
To let other people know where the line is, all you have to do is say, “I don’t want to talk about this,” “I would rather change the subject,” “I don’t want to do this,” or say “No.”
Rule # 4: put yourself first
If a person from childhood is accustomed to taking care of others first and continues to be a guardian in the family, then ignoring one's own needs becomes the norm. It is worth considering whether there is a reciprocal concern and a system of mutual concessions in such relationships. We also don’t listen to ourselves when we follow collective guidelines. For example, if it is customary in the company to stay after the working day, then it is difficult to resist the implicit expectations to do the same.
Put self-care first. This is how the body receives a signal that we are aware of the importance of our needs and emotions. It gives energy and good mood. The better we take care of ourselves, the more attention and energy we devote to relationships with loved ones, friends and colleagues.
© Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash
Rule # 5: start with easy steps and find support
Like any new skill, strengthening boundaries takes practice. Start with situations where you feel confident and then gradually build up the challenge.
Develop gradually and praise yourself for every achievement. It is worth asking for support from friends and loved ones who respect your boundaries and practice this skill together. In addition, you can contact a specialist or a psychological support group.
Want to talk about it: how support groups work and where to find them.