©Arlene R. Taylor PhD
The concept of boundaries is not new. The process of developing them continues to be challenging, however. Webster's defines boundaries as something that indicates or fixes limits. Personal limits are tools necessary for surviving safely in a frenetic world. It’s been estimated that at least half of all the problems humans encounter in life are of their own making based on the way they think. Often those problems are related to boundary issues. Individuals with healthy appropriate boundaries are able to know, understand, and state their personal limits as well as their family limits.
Although human beings are born with virtually no boundaries, they have the ability to learn to set healthy limits, a process that should begin at a very early age. Children absorb information about boundaries from watching their care providers and role models just as they learn almost everything else in infancy.
Think back to your childhood? Were you allowed, even encouraged to say the word no or was that concept relegated to the vocabulary of your care providers? If so, it may be difficult for you to use that word in adulthood. In fact, there are some who believe that it is relatively impossible to say 'yes' in adulthood with awareness and responsibility unless that same adult first learned how to say 'no' appropriately.
Were you expected to say yes to whatever your parents, teachers, or care providers wanted you to do? If so you may have found yourself agreeing to things you really didn’t want to do. Two of the shortest words in the English language are yes and no, and yet they’re often the ones that require the most thought before they’re said.
Creating and consistently implementing bona fide boundaries can offer many benefits. To list just a few, they can:
- Help you achieve your potential
- Promote healthier relationships
- Allow for genuine intimacy
- Offer some level of safety and protection
- Decrease victim and offender behaviors
- Diminish discomfort and dysfunction
- Promote a more balanced use of your brain’s resources
Boundaries can to too tight, too loose, or nonexistent in any number of areas (e.g., physical, intellectual, emotional, sexual, spiritual, social, financial). It is critically important to evaluate, develop, and consistently implement appropriate personal boundaries. They are faces we show to the world.
Learning to develop, implement consistently, and live within appropriate personal limits is a lifelong process. This process and your own emphasis can differ based on your innate brain bent.
Individuals with a brain bent in this division tend to use boundaries as tools to help them achieve their goals.
Individuals with a brain bent in this division tend to use boundaries to protect the self. They prefer to avoid conflict although can deal with it in situations when others raise objections about boundaries. If the conflict continues, these individuals often will take steps to distance themselves emotional and/or physically from the conflict (especially if they choose to maintain their own personal boundaries).
Individuals with a brain bent in this division tend to use boundaries to maintain the status quo and to help them feel safer.
Individuals with a brain bent in this division tend to use boundaries to conform to expectations.