Most people are really confused about boundaries and consider them limited to personal space or physical touch. We decide what seems to be acceptable when it comes to the things people say to us, how they treat us, or the way they touch us, but what about how we talk to or treat ourselves?
Boundaries are the limits and rules we set for ourselves in situations and relationships…including the relationship with ourselves. So when your inner shit talker starts telling you things you need to do for others, accept from others or believe about yourself, and it doesn’t feel right but you agree to it anyway, you are allowing that part of yourself to violate a boundary. MOST of the time, people are just throwing out their requests or expressing their feelings without any intention of harm. Then we attach meaning to their requests or expressions and when we feel like a boundary has been pushed we consider them to be inconsiderate perpetrators. Another example of attaching meaning to things is when someone asks us to do something or work late, we decide if we don’t fulfill the request it means that we aren’t a good person or hard worker. The mind LOVES to attach meaning to things and we do this subconsciously, but you have the ability to consciously recognize what is actually true and who’s job it is to know your limits. People will ask and your inner shit talker will blab, but that doesn’t mean you have to do, accept or believe any of it.
Let’s take a look at a few types of boundaries beyond physical and personal space boundaries.
- We all have busy lives with packed agendas. People WILL ask you to do things that you don’t have time for – do you want to do it? Or are you agreeing out of guilt or obligation?
- Sleep is self-care. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you may need to commit to a bedtime.
- How many times are you in a conversation way too long? Maybe you are enjoying it and decide it’s okay or maybe you aren’t, but if you struggle with time management you may need to set some healthy boundaries around how much time you give away.
- It seems obvious that someone stealing from us or stealing from another person violates a material and personal space boundary. But, in what ways might you be oversharing or giving away more than what feels comfortable for you? Setting limits on what you share and with whom fall under healthy boundaries.
- Obviously, there is intellectual property, respecting people’s ideas by not stealing their ideas is a boundary but also not shitting on their ideas. A boundary is violated by belittling someone’s ideas or thoughts.
- Thought boundaries with OURSELVES. This is where that inner shit talker gets called back into question. We are dynamic, full-spectrum, multifaceted beings so there are parts of ourselves that are not nice. That part of you is doing his/her best, they want to make sure you stay small so that you don’t become the target of someone else’s judgment but you don’t have to accept negative self-talk.
- Criticism, belittling, invalidating feelings – these are all examples of emotional boundaries. Chances are we’ve been violated by others, we’ve done the violating to someone else and we have all definitely violated ourselves.
- Knowing what to share and when can fall under emotional boundaries. If someone is really upset and crying about a loss, that might not be the time to start talking about yourself or the spinach in their teeth.
- Calling all empaths! Taking on other people’s emotions is a violation of your energy. I wasn’t sure if this should go under emotional or energetic because it is technically both but because it is an energy drain I put it here. Empathy is a wonderful thing, but know where you end and someone else begins. If you are allowing their pain to surge through your body, your energetic boundaries are being violated.
- This one we learn a lot about when it comes to physical boundaries but what about the emotional and intellectual aspects of this boundary category? Unwanted jokes or comments are a boundary violation.
Generally speaking, it is up to us to be our own advocates. If you notice discomfort or resentment coming up in a situation or relationship, you most likely need to set a boundary. When we don’t set boundaries it tends to be because we don’t want to make the other person feel uncomfortable, we don’t want to look like a “bad” person, or we don’t want to limit ourselves on indulgences.
Boundaries are a beautiful thing! They give us a sense of control, safety, predictability, productivity, and even freedom in our lives. Boundaries create a safe space for people to love us respectfully. Not having boundaries creates stress and tension in our lives and relationships because we are always trying to guess where the limits are. We waste energy second-guessing ourselves, “did I do enough,” “did I take too much?”. When we don’t set boundaries under the guise of generosity, the second-guessing and self-doubt environment has been created.
There is so much more to unpack on the subject and my next article on boundaries will be about boundary setting. But hopefully, this has brought you some new perspectives on boundaries and the importance of boundaries.