The "Ten Commandments" of Boundaries.
Boundaries are “emotional and physical limits set on interacting with another so that you can achieve an interdependent relationship of independent beings who do not lose their personal identity, uniqueness and autonomy in the process”. (See Reference) They are limits that are clearly defined allowing you to live a safe and fulfilled life. Boundaries are established in many areas of life including; physical, intellectual, emotional, sexual, material and time. They are vital to our development and often hard to implement. Follow these "ten commandments" to help you keep healthy boundaries for yourself.
1. Boundaries can only be set by the individual
Boundaries are extremely personal. They are only put in place for the betterment of our individuality and emotional safety. Often times others will project on to us what they think our boundaries might be, when in reality it is not their line to be drawn in the sand.
2. Boundaries are put in place for our protection
They are meant to protect us from any negativity or behavior that could be damaging to our inner self. Boundaries are the buffers put in place because we do not have the ability to control anyone else but ourselves. When something occurs that is damaging, our boundaries are there to protect us. They are not for the other person, but rather for our own protection.
3. All boundaries that are put in place must be healthy
What is a healthy boundary?
-Holding your own opinions, feelings and self-worth at a high value
– Will not "dumb down" values in response to others
– Appropriately shares personal information
– Communicates what you need
– Ability to say “no” and accept another person’s “no”
What is an unhealthy boundary?
-Avoiding intimacy in relationships with others
– Overprotective of personal information/overshares personal information
– Does not ask for help
– Dependent on others as a source of happiness
– Acceptance of abuse
– Cares too much about what others think and allows this to lead decision making
– Keeps others at a distance to avoid the possibility of rejection.
4. Communicate your boundaries
A boundary means nothing if it is not communicated. By saying “I will not allow…” you are letting the world know that this is your boundary and it will not be crossed. Also, adding in a consequence at the end of a statement tells the other person that you will enforce your boundary. For example:
“You will not speak to me that way, I do not deserve to be yelled at. If you continue to yell at me, this conversation is over.”
5. Consistency is key
This is arguably the hardest part about setting boundaries. Every situation is different and some instances are easier than others to hold your ground. You must find a way to do so in order to keep a commitment to yourself. If you allow someone to cross over that boundary, they will most likely try again because they got away with it once.
6. Boundaries must be guilt-free
One should not feel guilty for setting a boundary that upholds their personal values. Boundaries are not selfish, but rather allow you to get more of exactly what it is that you want. You are being more efficient with yourself and your time by giving more to people you love. You are feeling filled up for yourself, and not wasting time on others who are not beneficial to your growth.
7. Boundaries must be beneficial to your growth.
Boundaries can be set in many areas of our lives as mentioned above. When you have healthy boundaries, you have the ability to grow and develop into the best version of yourself. You have more time to spend on what is important to you in addition to feeling emotionally balanced. All of these
lessons learned allow you to develop a healthy self-awareness.
8. Boundaries should be comfortable for the individual
Making a boundary that is too rigid will be hard to enforce which will eventually lead to difficulty with consistency. For example: If you are realizing, after reading this article, that you overshare personal feelings you are not just going to stop sharing everything immediately. Instead you may say to yourself, “In the past I have overshared, but what is comfortable for me now is to be choicely about what I share.” This creates a comfortable place to start that doesn’t feel like a drastic shift in the way you present
9. Allow for future expansion of boundaries
Our last commandment led right into this one. Start at a place that is comfortable so you have room to grow. In the last statement you may have said “I will be choicely about what I share.” This leaves room for growth and development of boundaries leading up to a statement like “I will only share personal information if I know the person receiving it has good intentions”.
10. Have a boundary support-system
Find someone who is a safety net for you and ask them to hold you accountable with your boundaries. While ultimately they are personal, someone you trust can support you through the process by respecting your boundaries and helping you enforce them. We all get by with a little help from our friends.
Reference: Johnson State College, Vermont (Developing Healthy Boundaries)