Boundaries in Relationships

You have no control over another person, but you always have control over how you choose to respond to that person.
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Boundaries in Relationships

We must not underestimate the importance of healthy personal boundaries in all of our relationships: in the workplace, with our family and close friends and with community or social groups. Understanding the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries may be the best personal/professional development work we can do to enhance our career.

Personal boundary violations, at their best create confusion and disappointment, and at their worst result in anger, resentment and occasional dissolution of a relationship. This is less likely to happen when people are clear about their boundaries.

In the physical world, boundaries are easy to see. Fences, walls, hedges etcetera,are all physical boundaries that send the message this is private property. An individual's personal boundary, however, is invisible, nevertheless, it distinguishes that person as separate from another.

When an individual's boundaries are not healthy and strong, the result can be a fusion of herself with another person or persons. This can range from minor interference in daily activities or life decisions, to significant imposition of control in the life of another.

The purpose of personal boundaries is to protect and maintain the intregrity of the person. Healthy boundaries keep what might harm us, outside our fence. But healthy boundaries are not solid walls; they are permeable enough to allow good things in, yet strong enough to keep danger out.

Ideally, people develop healthy mental, physical, emotional and spiritual boundaries which help them define the extent of their responsibility to themselves or to others,over the course of their life. For example, healthy boundary development keeps me
from overfunctioning in my work roles, from taking inappropriate responsibility for the well-being of another and from not protecting my own personal well-being.

The development of healthy boundaries begins within the parent-child relationship.
When children are young and helpless, parents are responsible for their safety, security and well-being. During the various growth stages of the child, psychologically healthy parents adjust their role from protecting and controlling when the child is young, to one that allows the adolescent and developing adult to learn self-responsibility. Healthy boundary development is integral to the growing person to learn to take responsibility for her life.

When a person is experiencing boundary dilemmas, she may be asking questions like "Why do I feel guilty or afraid whenever I consider setting boundaries?" "Can I set limits and still be a loving person?" "What if someone becomes hurt or upsetwhen I maintain my personal boundaries?" "Am I being selfish when I set boundaries?"

It's never too late to do personal boundary work. A good place to begin is being clear about how you want to be in relationship with others. Examine your values, beliefs and priorities, and monitor your behavior to ensure it consistently and congruently reflects how you want to live. If there are changes you need to make,start small. For instance, try saying "no" the next time someone asks you to do
something that you honestly are not interested in doing.

Assertive communication is important for personal boundary development work. Check out your assertiveness level and then if needed, set some boundary development goals for yourself.

Take good care,

Kathleen

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