What Are Personal Boundaries?

We all have boundaries that differ when we are in social, dating, love, marriage, business, or home situations. Your boundaries will be somewhat different in different circumstances but in this case we are talking about personal boundaries. The boundaries you need when dealing with your friend, families, relationship, and spouses.

What is a boundary? A boundary is the amount of physical and emotional space that you need to distance you from other people without feeling “closed in” or “smothered” by someone else you are close too (either physically or emotionally). In school we used to measure this distance by putting our arms out straight, and with our eyes closed let 2 friends approach you. Both of them standing an equal distance in front on you, one foot to the right and the other, one foot to the left of you. With your eyes closed and your body relaxed they started one foot beyond the reach of your fingertips. In our class, our teacher played soothing music to keep the middle player calm and relaxed during the game. Each time the music stopped the other 2 children would take one small footstep forward towards the child holding her arms out. They continued this exercise until the child in the middle began to feel pressured and closed in and told them, stop. Whatever space that was left around the child was considered the amount of room she needed for her space.

This sounds like a simplistic game but when combined with a few other childish games it became crystal clear to all of us that we were very uncomfortable with people we didn’t know or like, in our “space”. However, those we trusted and we liked felt more comfortable in our space. It is as simple as learning that at some point there is a line where your personal space/boundaries ends and the other person’s begin and on the flip side of that coin where the others line is where his space ends and yours begin. It would work out better if everyone’s space started and stopped at a specific distance around themselves but it is the persons personality, background, belief system, and many other odds and ends that she/he may not be aware of that makes up just how much personal space they need to feel comfortable. In fact some people can stand closer to someone physically and only feel the effects on themselves emotionally. No one knows the exact science that makes humans need their particular space and why is must be bigger in some cases than others. Some of the reasons are very obvious such as crowding into an elevator puts everyone past their boundaries of adequate space obviously. The anxiety of people intruding each other’s personal boundaries does not make for good traveling companions to the top floor be it 3 floors or 30. People are elbowing, stepping on each other feet, talking to you through your nose (it seems like it), and all in all they leave with the distinct feeling of how much better the stairs where starting to sound. I have no doubt that those of you with children have had to put a stop more than once to a “s/he’s touching me!” complaintâÂ?¦a great example of having your personal space violated. So we understand now about the physical aspect of boundaries. Let’s discuss the more complicated mental and emotional elements of boundaries.

1) Setting boundaries is to set a line or limit of how intimate you will allow another person to get or what kind of behavior you expect of other people. The reason you won’t let anyone cross that line is because of the negative consequences it has brought you in the past.

Survivors of abuse may suffer from poorly defined boundaries due to the physical, sexual, verbal, and even emotional abuses they suffered. They were never allowed to protect their personal space. Their boundaries were constantly violated without their permission. Later in life these people go on to not know how to well define their boundaries to others. Unable to keep others from crossing that line, they end up with those who continue to cross those boundaries, keeping them in a state of anxiety and apprehension.

2) You must set boundaries in your relationships: You expect a level of respect and conduct from others regarding their relationship to you in order to keep you physical and emotional well-being intact.

3) You need boundaries so you know where you end and the other person starts. Keeping this vital distance keeps you acting in your true self and not trying to change to please others. There must be a healthy distance between you and another person to discourage the two of you becoming overly dependent, enmeshed, and or become seriously involved much too quickly.

A) There is a flip-side to this however because you don’t want to be too distant because then it becomes the opposite and you become overly independent and detach
B) It is important to find a balance here. You have need enough physical and emotional closeness to find a way to an interdependent relationship without either of you neither giving up nor changing your personal identities. This will keep the uniqueness and autonomy in the relationship.
C) Why settle for almost clone friends, when you can have friendships that are autonomous, creative, unique, free-thinking, and original? This allows you to feel free to be yourself. Feeling free to be yourself, not how others think you should act, think, and feel. What a relief!

Now, that you know what boundaries are, it is up to you to start building and maintaining some personal boundaries for yourself.

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