You've probably heard the phrase "personal boundary" before, but maybe you're unsure what it means. Just what ARE personal boundaries, and what difference do they make in your life?
To understand a personal boundary, you have to understand what a boundary is. Let's start at the dictionary and go from there:
Most boundaries are pretty easy to see. The world is full of fences and dividers, clearly marking off space. A personal boundary does the same thing - only on a more invisible and internal level. Let's look at this a little closer.
Why do we need boundaries?
1. A boundary tells you what your responsibility is in a given situation. You already have some boundaries at work or school. These are the parameters of your job or your responsibility as a student and usually are marked out pretty clearly when you took the job or were enrolled. On a personal level, a boundary tells you who you're responsible for (yourself of course, but you might also be a caregiver).
2. A boundary keeps you safe. Many of these should go without saying - such as abstaining from drinking and driving. But sometimes you have to set some such boundaries for yourself. Such as whether or not it's healthy to be in a relationship with a certain individual.
3. A boundary tells us who we are. Are you a good person? A bad person? A selfish person? A pious one? Our moral code becomes the boundary that defines us.
4. A boundary clarifies your needs. What things need to be in place in your life for you to be the happiest and healthiest? What protects you from overwork or abuse?
5. A boundary defines your relationships. What are the parameters of your relationship? Is that healthy? What is your responsibility to that other person? How are they responsible for you?
With all that, it makes sense that having strong boundaries is a good idea. Especially when you take into consideration these facts:
- give you a better idea of who you are
- help others to understand your needs
- give guidelines in your relationships
- make for healthy interactions with other people
And perhaps most important of all, they are an integral part of self-care. As a side note remember this: boundaries need to be revisited occasionally and re-evaluated. As we grow and change, our boundaries will change as well.
With all this at stake, it's no wonder we give boundaries such a lot of attention. Boundaries can mean the difference between a happy and healthy life and a life of drudgery and resentment.
Is it time to learn where to draw the line?
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