I am sure you can remember a time as a child when your parents asked you to hug a relative or talk on the phone to an aunt or uncle when you didn’t want to. Do you remember that? Think back to how that made you feel, and do you find yourself in similar situations now and wonder why? We are often taught to dismiss or bend ourselves and our feelings to make others comfortable. Being accommodating is not a bad thing, but if it’s something you’re often doing while disregarding your own feelings, that can be a problem.
Boundaries are rules and guidelines we set for ourselves to teach others how to treat us. If we have no boundaries, we leave it up to other people to dictate what is acceptable in our lives. Boundaries are healthy; you can set them and change them when needed. If a person is overstepping a boundary, we must reestablish that boundary or evaluate the relationship. There are several types of boundaries. Let’s take a look at emotional, physical, sexual, work, and time boundaries.
An emotional boundary deals with a person’s internal thoughts, feelings, and emotions. To have emotional boundaries, we have to be able to separate our feelings from others. This allows for a deeper understanding of what we deem acceptable regarding our internal thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Has there ever been a time when a loved one or romantic partner may have had particular feelings about another person and you adopted those feelings? Did you adopt those feelings without doing your own research or taking the time to get to know the person? That is an example of not having emotional boundaries. Emotional boundaries are great for one’s emotional well-being.
Physical boundaries deal with our physical and personal space. So, for example, let’s think about ways people traditionally greet each other in America. Some people hug, kiss, shake hands, or wave at another person. Someone’s boundary could be not participating in those gestures and wanting to wave at a person or say Hello instead. There’s no right or wrong way to greet someone. It all depends on the person’s preference and boundaries.
Sexual boundaries deal with sexual autonomy (the right to choose to have sex and the right to refuse), respect, and consent. When starting a new sexual situation, it is imperative to have a conversation regarding expectations. This will allow space for both parties to communicate things they are and are not comfortable with within an intimate situation.
Workplace boundaries deal with expectations surrounding our jobs. The best way to establish workplace boundaries is by assessing your limitations. Aside from our work, we may have a home life, relationships, passions, and other things to consider. At your job, know your limits and pay attention to how you feel. If you are getting emails and phone calls when you are off the clock, and that is a concern, voice your concerns. We can not assume people should know better. It could be the norm in their lives, but that does not mean it has to be in your life.
We’ve all heard of the saying “ time is money.” One thing in this world we can never get back is our time. Our time is valuable, and it is important to protect how we use it. Time boundaries mean understanding your priorities and setting aside enough time for things you deem important. Time boundaries also mean being able to vocalize when you feel someone is wasting your time. Remember what I said at the beginning of this? Boundaries are rules and guidelines we set for ourselves to teach others how to treat us. If a person is overstepping or not acknowledging a boundary, we must reestablish that boundary or evaluate the relationship.
How to set boundaries?
With any boundary, communication is critical. If we do not voice our boundaries or concerns, we can not assume others are aware. But sometimes, no matter how hard we’ve tried to communicate our boundaries, someone may break them. In that case, know that you’re allowed to evaluate the relationship and if needed cut off contact. Anyone who doesn’t respect our boundaries does not appreciate us. I hope after reading this; you take some time to think about what your boundaries may be.