“Tolerance is nothing more than patience with boundaries.” ~Shannon L. Alder

“We can’t manipulate people into swallowing our boundaries by sugarcoating them. Boundaries are a “litmus test” for the quality of our relationships. Those people in our lives who can respect our boundaries will love our wills, our opinions, our separateness. Those who can’t respect our boundaries are telling us that they don’t love our no’s. They only love our yeses, our compliance. “I only like it when you do what I want.” ~Henry Cloud

“People who violate your boundaries are thieves. They steal time that doesn’t belong to them.” ~Elizabeth Grace Saunders

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing other.” ~Brené Brown

“We can trust ourselves to know when our boundaries are being violated.” ~Melody Beattie

I like to write about the real-life issues people face. I feel inspired by these topics because they keep coming up for me, either through clients or from my own personal life. The winner this week has been about personal boundaries.

person stepping across a dotted line

I have come to realize that a lot of people fail to have personal boundaries at all, or they are not even aware of them when they have them. This leaves many of us open to misunderstandings, drama, hurt, resentments, and over-reactions.

For instance, if somebody gets too close to you, or they touch you in a way that makes you tense up, then you feel uncomfortable. They have crossed a personal boundary. The person’s intent may have been completely innocent and to somebody else it may not have even been noticed. But for you, it caused a reaction.

Let’s look at four different areas where we can have personal boundaries regardless of where they come from. (Boundary origin is a whole other conversation.)

Physical

This is going to be different for everyone. We often hear the expression, my personal space. When people say these words, they are usually referring to are the personal physical boundaries they have set for themselves—either consciously or subconsciously.

If we are not aware of the boundaries set for ourselves or others, then we can get ourselves into some trouble. We either let people get too close and dishonor ourselves, or we innocently or unintentionally offend someone else.

Have you ever leaned in to give someone a friendly hug, only to have them back away?

It is not that hugs are wrong or bad, it’s just that this person has set a personal physical limit that does not include hugs.

It is not our place to judge it; it is only our place to respect another’s boundary.

We all want to be liked or loved and this is often when we either ignore our own boundaries or unintentionally cross the line of others’ boundaries.

  • The responsible thing to do is know our own boundaries, and when necessary, express them without anger, blame or shame.
  • We are also responsible for respecting the boundaries of others even if we do not agree with them or understand them.

Time

We all only have so many seconds in a minute, minutes in an hour, and hours in a day. This time is precious and valuable. Once gone we cannot go back and retrieve it. When you reach that point in life where you realize you may have more years behind you than you do ahead of you, then time is not to be taken for granted.

Unfortunately we don’t always respect time our own or that of others. We spend it on time wasters that are not adding any value to our lives. Again, we may do this to be liked or loved.

We frequently don’t respect another person’s time and intrude upon it.

Some example of time wasters and intruders may be early morning or late night phone calls (non-emergency), gossiping, social media, constant phone texting, or just talking too much.

  • Don’t steal other people’s time, and don’t let others steal yours.

Values

If you know what you value, then you also know when you are being asked to compromise those values.

For example, say you value your health and as a result have made certain lifestyle choices. If friends or family try to make you feel bad for those choices and you give in, going completely against your value choices, then your boundaries have been violated through coercion and shame.

We all want to fit in and belong to something: family, friends, an on-line or local community or a specific group. But when we are asked to go against our values or take on other peoples values to belong, then our boundaries have been crossed.

  • It is up to us to know what we value so we also know when our boundaries are being threatened.
  • It is also our responsibility to respect the values of others and not cross their boundaries; we do not ask them to compromise their values for our benefit.

Get to know and understand your boundaries. Know why you have them, where they come from and whether or not they are serving you.

Some boundaries may be there to protect us from perceived threats that are not real and they may be holding us back from enjoying life to the fullest.

Part of self-awareness and personal growth includes removing the boundaries we no longer need and keeping the ones that are in accord with self-love and self-respect.

So what are your Personal Boundaries?

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