Why do we need a personal boundary?
"Good fences make good neighbours."
Have you ever felt uneasy when someone is too close to you (physically or emotionally or mentally)? Are there certain person(s) whom you can connect immediately although that was the first time both of you met?
Personal boundary is a personal space (literally and metaphorically) that gives us a sense of safety and acceptance within ourselves when interacting with others. Personal boundary defines the limit of our personal space, our likes and dislikes, sets out rules of engagement for others and, in the process cultivates understanding for one another.
Sometimes, someone whom you felt very close with might feel very distance due to changes in ideologies. Other times, a person whom felt very distanced can become closer...
In a way, the boundary acts as a fence to keep others' out. This fence is not permanent nor fixed and can vary under different circumstances.
Are there certain persons whom you feel very close to regardless of physical distance? Are there persons whom you cannot connect with even when being physically present?
Personal boundary includes different types e.g. physical, psychological, emotional, mental, spiritual, energetic, etc.
Why do we need a good personal boundary?A good personal boundary defines your personal space, limit and threshold. It let others know how to behave around you and interact with you.
More importantly, this is a process of taking full responsibility in yourself, your life and what is yours. When you know what is yours, there will be no blame. You cannot be a victim when you know what are your options. You are free and autonomous. For example, you cannot control what happens to you but you can control what you are going to do about it. If someone yells at you out of the blue, you can walk away, accepting that everyone has his 'off days' and it is not your responsibility to fix him or make him happy. Once you understand that it is not yours (fault) that someone yells at you, you are able to walk away without getting into further potential trouble or unnecessary engagement. Hence, a good personal boundary gives this clarity of choices and responsibilities.
Another key learning of a good boundary for myself is not to take up what is not mine. We will not be able to digest what is not ours and that would cause issues in our digestion and energy levels. For example, if I were perpetually worrying our another's problems in a manner that it compromise my sleep and health, it will not do me any good. Not just my energy levels will suffer from the lack of restful sleep but also my overall health and wellbeing, and mood. If I am in a bad place myself, it is not going to help anyone else. In addition, if my 'concerns' (unsolicited) become overpowering that I meddles into another's life, that will hamper that person's own development and learning (or opportunity to learn). On the other hand, if the 'help' is solicited, I have the autonomy to say 'no' if it is beyond what I feel is good for that person.
A good personal boundary sets the foundation for cultivating healthy relationships, with yourself and others. When one has good personal boundary, self-care becomes something important. When one is nourished, one can share the good energies with others. This means that everyone can have his 'off' days and it is ok not to feel ok. That is why you need personal boundary to retreat, recharge and do some self-care. It can be simply taking the time to catch up on sleep debt. Here, saying 'no' to others mean allocating time for myself - and that is part and parcel of having good personal boundary.
Being firm on punctuality is also a form of healthy boundary. Time is a personal asset. This is especially important for more formal settings. That said, the concept of punctuality varies drastically across different cultures. Personally, I do have occasions where I am late, and there are times where I exercise flexibility during exigency or during less formal gatherings and would usually state so.
How to set a good personal boundary?
Knowing your rights and needs is the first step. Then, making it known in your interactions with others. This means saying 'no' when the situation calls for it, and telling the truth.
We figure out where the boundary is along the way as we encounter different situations in life. However, a set of right values will help anchor you regardless of the circumstances. We cannot control the outcomes but we definitely should have clarity over our intents. Right values and intents will prevent us from being swayed or manipulated by propagandas. As we become clear of our own values, intents and boundaries, certain relationships will end. The good news is that the new relationships formed and built will be more robust based on healthy boundary, right intents and values.
Sometimes, it is as simple as having the intent to take full responsibility over one's life, responses and happiness; and not to take up others' burdens. Setting a clear and simple to follow intent help align your thoughts, words, actions and energies. Do spend some time to think about it. The above can be one good and powerful intent. Another simple intent can be to conserve energy (leaks) for better vitality.
Click here to find out what it means to have a good personal boundary.
Click here for the series of practices on healthy personal boundary and space.
Click here to find out how is having good personal boundary being kind.