The psychological meaning of personal boundaries is quite different from the physical boundaries of the world, but serves the same purpose of saving oneself from being manipulated or used.
Personal boundaries are the rules we set for ourselves and others in order to maintain healthy relationships with people around us. An example of a healthy boundary is the ability to say no to people/situation/things that are against our values or beliefs or choices. The person who has a strong sense of self, is good at creating and maintaining healthy personal boundaries. It is a simple way of communicating to others what is acceptable. Personal boundaries can vary from being healthy to rigid to being porous. A person with rigid boundaries always keeps physical and emotional distance from others. In case of people with porous boundaries the case is exactly opposite. However, a person with healthy personal boundaries knows how much or how little of physical and emotional distance should be kept.
Healthy boundaries look like valuing one’s own opinion, not compromising one’s own values and belief for others, sharing the appropriate amount of personal information and being able to honestly communicate one’s needs and wants. A person with healthy boundaries also understands the boundaries of other people and can accept a ‘no’ from others.
Love and respect in any relationship is built on the basis of healthy personal boundaries. There are several places where boundaries can be applied.
Material boundaries determine how many and how often we lend or give things to people. Sharing our personal belongings with our family and friends is normal. But when a person cannot say ‘no’ despite being used or manipulated into giving things have clear porous boundaries.
Personal boundaries are important as it determines who can enter our personal space. This becomes especially important in relationships, where we need to communicate with our partners how we would like to maintain some physical boundaries when it comes to our body or personal space.
Mental boundaries are determined by how easily our thoughts, values and belief systems can be manipulated by others. Having a strong sense of mental boundary enables one to stay true to their thoughts and belief systems.
Emotional boundaries require one to be clear about their internal boundaries, so that it is easy to know and understand your own feelings as well as feelings of others around you.
It is essential to know that the types of boundaries we maintain with people across different settings can differ, there is no one fits all phenomenon when it comes to creating personal healthy boundaries.
While setting boundaries it is important to know that we set boundaries for our well being and protection, and such decisions should be therefore made in the right state of mind after thoroughly understanding our own needs as well as needs of others around us. It is a gradual process that involves learning about oneself, being self-aware, building self esteem and most importantly loving yourself.
Authorship: Binita Vedak