Healthy Personal Boundaries—What They Are and Why They Matter

Learning to set healthy personal boundaries is necessary for maintaining a positive self-concept, or self-image. It is our way of communicating to others that we have self-respect, self-worth, and will not allow others to define us. Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. healthy boundariesThey allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. Their presence helps us express ourselves as the unique individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.

Boundaries are tools for building cooperation in relationship.  Boundaries do not depend on fear or power.  They are for letting others know what you want. Know that you have a right to personal boundaries.  Their presence in your life gives you

  • An improved sense of self-confidence and self-concept
  • A deepened sense of your own emotional reality
  • A better ability to communicate with others
  • More fulfilling relationships
  • A greater sense of stability and control over you own life

It is your right and responsibility to identify a boundary’s usefulness (or non-usefulness) and appropriateness (or non-appropriateness). If you worry that this means you are being self-centered or selfish, please remember that such a thought is not true.  A certain amount of “selfishness” is necessary for having healthy personal boundaries.  You do not do anyone any favors least of all yourself by trying to please others at your own expense. Your awareness of your boundaries is important so that you can honor them by voicing them, setting them, or if you choose, letting them go.

Boundaries—defining for yourself what you want, what is appropriate—protect your well-being and nurture your “inner child.” Learning to say no when it’s no and yes when it’s yes is a valuable gift you give to yourself. Many of us are people-pleasers and often put ourselves at a disadvantage by trying to accommodate everyone. We don’t want to be selfish, so we put our personal needs on the back burner and agree to do things that may not be beneficial to our well-being.

Clarity and firmness and flexibility (no, we are not contradicting ourselves) are three additional characteristics of healthy boundaries.  Trust and believe in yourself.  You are the highest authority on you. You know yourself best. You know what you need, want, and value. Don’t let anyone else make the decisions for you. Healthy boundaries make it possible for you to respect your strengths, abilities and individuality as well as those of others. An unhealthy imbalance occurs when you encourage neediness, or are needy; want to be rescued, or are the rescuer, or when you choose to play the victim.

When clarity and flexibility are present you will have a good sense of when to relax the boundary or when to hold firm.  It’s important to remember that relaxing your boundary isn’t the same as giving into another’s demands and holding firm isn’t the same as being willfully inconsiderate.

Setting healthy boundaries—knowing and expressing your values and needs—also calls for being receptive to loosening your boundary (as is your comfort in the moment), allowing yourself to let in the experience of another person, place, thing or behavior.

When we do not honor our boundaries, will experience signs that are telling us with are acting against what is psychologically, emotionally and/or spiritually appropriate for us within any situation or within any relationship.  For example, when we

  • Give as much as we can for the sake of taking
  • When we value another’s needs more than our own
  • Let others define us
  • Expect others to automatically fill our needs
  • When we fall apart so someone can take care of us
  • When we feel bad or guilty when we say no
  • Fail to speak up when we are treated poorly
  • Accept physical advances or touches that we don’t want
  • Touch a person without asking

—When we do any of these behaviors it is important to remember that we are not acting in the best interest either for ourselves or toward another.

It is worth repeating—expressing and acknowledging our personal boundaries is honoring the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used or violated by others.  They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel from the thoughts and feelings of others.  Their presence helps us express ourselves as the unique individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others.

Joyce Lynne Juster, M.A., LP    Copyright @2012  Do not copy without permission

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 at 3:57 pm and is filed under Life Lessons, Psychology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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