Lot’s of people wonder, how to set boundaries without feeling guilty or hurting other people. In answering that, I think it’s helpful to first understand what a boundary is. The term “boundaries” is something we hear about a lot, but many of us dont fully understand what it means. Drs Henry Cloud and John Townsend define boundaries in a way that I think is pretty easy to understand. They suggest we think about boundaries as property lines. Where I end and you begin. If I had a neighbor who wanted to let their dog roam the neighborhood and it came into my yard, frightened my children, and left a mess for me to clean up, I would be pretty upset. But what about the neighbor who may want to come trim my bushes, mow my lawn, and dig up some of my flower beds without my permission. That would probably feel wrong as well. Those things are within the boundaries of my property line and therefore shouldn’t be encroached on without my permission.
Personal boundaries are very much the same.
When someone over steps those bounds, regardless of how well-meaning their intentions may or may not be, we feel like something is wrong.
Our feelings and emotions are really good informers if we will listen to them. When we begin to feel upset over a situation, we can ask ourselves if a boundary has been crossed.
It is very common for us to think that if we set boundaries though, that we are being selfish and it would damage the relationship.
Clearly defined boundaries make relationships easier because boundaries solve many of the issues that cause conflict.
Boundaries, much like property lines, allow us to determine what becomes part of our life. They allow us to welcome friendly things in, as well as keep harmful things out. Sometimes it helps to think of boundaries more like picket fences, rather than concrete walls. They are not intended to isolate, but rather to provide opportunities for the best possible connections.
Boundaries are an integral part of emotional health. The better we are at setting healthy boundaries, the better our emotional health. The better our emotional health, the better are at setting boundaries.
If you are struggling with a relationships, ask yourself if it is time to clarify some boundaries.