There are many types of personal boundaries, some of which I will look at in later posts, but today I will talk about emotional boundaries.
A boundary is any kind of line or limit that marks the difference between two places. As in the phrase “good fences make good neighbours”, healthy boundaries can aid healthy relationships.
Do you take the blame for other people’s feelings and emotions? Do you feel responsible for ‘making’ them feel a particular way? Or vice versa? Do you find yourself easily influenced and unable to work out what you really feel, finding instead that you go along with what other people believe? Do you need to rescue others from their problems, or need them to rescue you? Are you often finding yourself caught up in other people’s drama?
Feelings of guilt, anger or resentment can be signs that something isn’t working. Perhaps you feel that you haven’t got the right to say no or to have any privacy. Possibly you didn’t learn how to have strong boundaries when growing up and are afraid of what will happen if you start asserting yourself.
You can set boundaries by learning to say no and valuing your right to do that, by spending time getting to know your own beliefs and feelings without the influence of others, by taking note of how you feel in the company of certain people (nourished or drained?). Ask yourself, are you giving other people more than you can afford to?
Meditation and grounding exercises might also help you to feel more secure in yourself.
Setting boundaries is part of self care and getting to know yourself better. It can be hard going, and you and the people around you might need time and space to work out and get used to where your boundaries lie. You may find it easier to start small. Boundaries also need regular maintenance – like regular repairs to that fence! Practicing asserting boundaries with a supportive friend or a counsellor can help you to work through this. Sometimes there will be steps backwards as well – that is okay! Building new emotional boundaries can be like breaking the habit of a lifetime, so be kind and encouraging towards yourself.
If you would like to make an appointment for counselling around this issue or others raised in this blog, please contact me.