Ideally, personal boundaries are limits that you set intentionally which then allows for the healthy receiving of input from others. Boundaries define the parts of your life experiences or your relationships that you are willing or are not willing to participate in. Notice that I am saying “ideally”. Our everyday management of life includes many opportunities for our boundaries to be unconsciously set or to be set inappropriately. This can result in participating in situations and relationships that leave you feeling drained, resentful and unsatisfied with the way you are living your life.
Tips for setting and keeping your boundaries
1. Notice Your Reactions and Emotional Responses. Reactions of anger, annoyance or frustration are indications of a boundary breach. Often anger, annoyance or frustration results from people allowing themselves to do something they have agreed with themselves not to do. For example: Have you ever experienced yourself saying, “I won’t do that again,” and then find yourself doing it again? That is a very common boundary breach, which may result in feelings of anger towards others or feeling overwhelmed.
2. You Always Have Choice. If you hear yourself say, “I have no choice,” that is also an indication of a loose boundary. Remember you always have choice. This can be a hard thing for some people to accept, but by setting good boundaries and cultivating compassion for yourself, you can effectively deal with whatever situation presents itself.
3. Use ‘I’ Statements. One of the most powerful tips I offer clients is the use of “I” statements. A boundary breach occurs when you blame someone else for what your experience is. Assertions like, “You made me feel angry,” or “He made me feel sad,” are examples of how using blame results in soft boundaries. Instead, share thoughts or feelings from your perspective, “I feel angry when you say that,” or “I feel sad when he did that.” The “I” statement is a powerful tool for maintaining and declaring an authentic personal zu.
Make Yourself a Priority- Setting and maintaining authentic boundaries is not for the timid. This type of personal work requires intention – to live a life of integrity and to make yourself a priority. Through consciously setting boundaries, you will find that you live the life you choose, not one filled only with things you feel you must or should do. This process requires the courage to face your edge, but helps you live a healthier, happier life of integrity and meaning.
Original article posted in August 2007 and printed in the New Spirit Journal: Click to read original article