What are Personal Boundaries?
- The limits and rules we set for ourselves and within relationships, to protect our well-being
- Knowing our limits in a given situation, knowing what’s acceptable to us, and what isn’t
- Knowing our values
- Having self-respect, meaning acknowledging our needs, not just another person’s
- Having respect for others, not being self-serving
- Being assertive, saying no without ambiguity
Why are Personal Boundaries important?
- They are a safeguard to overextending yourself.
- They are a self-care practice.
- They define roles in relationships.
- They communicate acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in relationships.
- They are parameters for knowing what to expect in relationships.
- They are a way that you ask people to show up by upholding your needs.
- They are a way to create clarity.
- They are a way to feel safe.
How do I know what my Personal Boundaries are and how do I set them?
- Define them
- Examine experiences and notice where boundaries are lacking
- Connect to the intuitive voice (the feelings, sensations in your body, such as feeling pressure in your chest)
- Think about a past, present, or future experience. Example: How do you feel when you think about, say, seeing an old friend?
- Does your chest tighten? (Think about your feelings, sensations in your body, thoughts)
- Is there a feeling of resentment leading up to it? (“Ugh I don’t want to go” could be a related thought)
- How about during the meeting? Do you feel energized, calm, nourished, or depleted, guarded, and limited?
Types of Boundaries
- The amount of personal space, physical contact, that is most comfortable for you and your preferred timing for physical contact
- Your overall comfort with verbal comments on your appearance, sexuality, etc.
- Your overall comfort with sharing your personal space (apartment, bedroom, office, etc.) with others (including friends, partners, colleagues, etc.), sharing personal digital passwords, etc.
- Your overall comfort with sharing your personal thoughts, opinions, and beliefs with others without changing them to match those of another or insisting that others change to match yours
- Your ability to choose which personal thoughts, opinions, and beliefs, you share with others without feeling it necessary to overshare or attempting to insist that they overshare
- Your ability to exercise choice around where and how your time is spent, avoiding any tendency toward people pleasing, etc. and to allow others to have a similar choice
- Your ability to negate personal responsibility for others’ emotions, avoiding the tendency to play the role of “fixer” or to make others responsible for your emotions
- Your ability to limit the amount of time spent on venting problems on the part of either person
Physical: Friend makes jokes about other people’s weight
Change needed: You want them to stop
Mental/Emotional: A friend often emotionally dumps about her ex-boyfriend
Change needed: You want a more reciprocal relationship
Resource: Friend insists on a venue closer to their house than to your dwelling
Change needed: You want to meet at a more fair location for consideration of your driving time
Identify the specific commonly crossed boundaries to identify changes you would like to see. Use the following prompts:
My physical self feels uncomfortable/unsafe when _____________ (friend makes comments about my appearance)
To create space for my physical self to feel more comfortable/safe, I_________ (I will no longer be around people who do this)
My mental/emotional self feels uncomfortable/unsafe when _____________ (my family member makes comments about my new health choices)
To create space for my mental/emotional self to feel more comfortable/safe, I_________ (I will no longer defend, argue about my personal health choices)
My resources feel uncomfortable/unsafe when _____________ (my cousin call me at all hours to talk)
To create space for my resources to feel more comfortable/safe, I_________ (I will no longer take those calls)
LePera, Nicole. How to do the Work; Recognize your patterns, heal from your past, and create your self: New York, HarperCollins, 2021
Tawwab, Nedra Glover. Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A guide to reclaiming yourself: New York, TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2021