Imagine: you are standing on the porch of your house with a cup of tea, the sun pleasantly warms your face, birds sing, and you feel comfortable and safe. Suddenly a huge tractor breaks through your white fence, drives through the flowers and the lawn, leaving clods of dirt, and drives into the wall. It’s embarrassing to even imagine, isn’t it? But sometimes we live about the same thing when people break through our personal boundaries – they are not visible, but they are very important for a happy life and relationships.
What are personal boundaries?
Personal boundaries are the limits of one’s own “I” and its conscious separation from other people. They determine your capabilities, desires, feelings, and relationships with others. If your body belongs to the physical boundaries, then the space and sensations that separate you from others belong to the psychological ones.
The border, in addition to the protective function, has a defining one. She answers the question: “What am I? What am I? Defining boundaries is related to our values, attitudes, and norms. Through them, we define ourselves as individuals and communicate who we are to others.
Simply put, personal boundaries are your firm, confident understanding of who you are as a person, what kind of temperament you are, according to reactions, what is important to you, what you want in your life and at a particular moment in time, what you suitable in a relationship, and what is not, how it is possible with you, and how it is impossible. For example, for me, unsolicited advice, evaluation of my actions, reading messages, devaluing achievements that are significant to me, and touches that are unpleasant to me will be an unambiguous violation.
Types of personal boundaries
Personal boundaries are divided into hard, weak, and healthy.
- Rigid – you avoid trusting relationships and any intimacy, do not ask for help, and do everything yourself. You protect personal information, you don’t let anyone into your soul, which makes it difficult to get close to someone, and you prefer to keep people at a distance. This is the position of a person who prefers to control everything: it is better for me to give up everything myself than to experience rejection.
- Weak – you easily share personal information, which you sometimes regret, you do not know how to refuse, and you tend to agree with other people’s opinions, and not defend your own. Often you find yourself involved in other people’s problems, saving and helping. The opinion of others is important to you, so sometimes you endure a disrespectful attitude towards yourself, just to keep someone’s disposition and remain “good” in the eyes of other people. The thought of being rejected is unbearable.
- Healthy – you know your desires and values well, do not give them up to please others, value your opinion, and are not afraid to defend it. You share personal information in moderation and in a suitable setting, you can calmly say “no” and just as calmly accept other people’s refusals.
Violation of personal boundaries
The main sign that everything is in order with the boundaries is a feeling of comfort in the relationship. If you feel uncomfortable with someone, consider whether this is due to the violation of personal boundaries. For example:
- When meeting with a great-aunt, you have to endure her hugs and kisses,
- A colleague tells you for hours about his problems and worries, forcing you to listen, empathize and help,
- Mom comes to your house unannounced, and maybe even opens the door with her keys,
- Being in your house, the mother-in-law takes up cleaning,
- In a relationship with a partner, you sometimes catch yourself feeling that you need to “deserve” his favor and love, it is important for you to be “good”, and “comfortable” for him,
- A friend speaks out about your appearance, seemingly with good intentions, but her every word hurts a lot,
- Sister begs for new things to “wear once” and does not return,
- Your partner is trying to control you: how you dress, where you go, what and how much you eat, who likes
- Your photos on social networks,
- you feel envy and anger towards those who, in your opinion, somehow live very freely.
Dealing with Boundary Violations
When there is a violation of personal boundaries, you can feel strong irritation, discontent, anger, and indignation. The stronger the emotion experienced, the louder the signal that the boundaries are broken too deep.
What are the consequences if your personal boundaries are regularly violated? You may have difficulty with:
- Build close, trusting relationships
- Refuse people’s requests without guilt,
- Calmly endure someone else’s disagreement,
- Be in touch with your feelings and desires,
- Defend your beliefs
- Don’t take responsibility for other people’s feelings
- Make decisions independently and not be afraid to change them,
- Take responsibility for your actions and choices,
- Feel confident and in “their” place,
- Resist manipulation,
- Take control of your life in general.
For people with violated personal boundaries, a large amount of energy is spent on trying to “keep relationships” – with family, friends, colleagues, and superiors. Most often this is due to the fear of losing their location, and the person is ready to give in, agree, adapt to others, giving up himself. In this case, the relationship, of course, does not bring the desired comfort and harmony, but only disappointment and pain.
As you can see, the concept of personal boundaries is closely related to your sense of self-worth.
Maintaining and Defending Personal Boundaries
Personal boundaries are directly related to your values, so it’s important to define them. Take five minutes and, without hesitation, write down a list of everything that is important to you in life right now. Then look at it and try to find repetitions or intersections, points that can be combined. For example, you wrote down: high income, comfortable apartment, and vacation in beautiful places – this can be reformulated into “material well-being”. Or, if there are items like “time with children”, “meetings with friends”, and “trip together with my husband” – this is about relationships. “Do what I want”, and “make decisions on my own” – about freedom of choice. If there are items that have nothing to combine with, leave them as they are. This list is your list of values. Realizing them, you will understand where are the personal boundaries between you and others, where you own, where is someone else’s, and, feeling when someone invades an area that is meaningful to you, defend it. What to rely on? Here are some important points:
- Talk to people, don’t expect them to guess your feelings, wants, and needs. Ask others about themselves – it is better to learn about what the other person is experiencing from him than to make some guesses and act on them.
- Give up the idea of changing other people, it’s impossible. It is possible to discuss the features of your relationship and ways to make it enjoyable for both of you or, if only you need it, look for someone with whom it will work out.
- Act and make decisions based on your own desires and needs, and not at the behest of other people. You live your life, and others live theirs, let them build it as they see fit, and you focus on yourself. If for a long time, your personal boundaries have been weak and you are used to following someone else’s opinion, it may be worth contacting a psychologist or psychotherapist, getting to know yourself better, and building healthy personal boundaries.
- Stand your ground, and learn to refuse without feeling ashamed or guilty. Sessions with a psychologist just help to form these skills.
- Be attentive to your feelings. If you notice that someone is manipulating, controlling, or hurting you, it sounds like you are in a toxic relationship with that person. Check:
- Do you stay in a relationship that is empty and hurting just to avoid being alone or feeling needed?
- What place do these relationships occupy in your life?
- How much time are you willing to spend on them? How much are you actually spending?
- How much is a partner allowed to delve into your affairs and plans?
- What words can describe your relationship? Do they resonate with or conflict with your values?
Healthy personal boundaries are the key to a harmonious relationship. Violated boundaries give rise to irritation, resentment, and anger, make it difficult to communicate with loved ones, and do not allow a person to live his life to the fullest and realize his potential. Therefore, it is so important not to get stuck at any of the poles of hard or weak personal boundaries, but to build healthy ones – those that will allow you to listen to others and respect your opinion, know your needs, and be able to express them, establish close relationships, but not dissolve. and don’t lose yourself in them.
Why are personal boundaries important?
Personal boundaries are very important because they help us set limits and decide what is okay and not okay for ourselves. They make sure we stay safe, and happy, and have good relationships with others.
What are some signs of weak personal boundaries?
When our personal boundaries are weak, there are some signs we can look out for. These include always saying yes even when we don’t want to, feeling overwhelmed by what others want from us, needing other people’s approval all the time, letting others treat us badly, and feeling like it’s our job to make everyone else happy.
How can I establish personal boundaries effectively?
To set personal boundaries in a good way, we can start by thinking about what’s important to us and what we believe in. Then we need to tell others about our boundaries in a clear and confident way. It’s also important to stick to our boundaries and not let others push us around.
How can I respect other people’s boundaries?
Respecting other people’s boundaries means listening to them and understanding what they want and need. We shouldn’t try to make them do things they don’t want to do or make them feel bad for having their own limits. Being kind and understanding is important.
What should I do when my boundaries are violated?
If someone doesn’t respect our boundaries, we need to speak up and let them know that they crossed a line. It’s important to be strong and not let others keep doing things that make us uncomfortable. We can also talk to someone we trust for support and advice.