Exploring Personal Boundaries

Personal Boundaries. Do you know what they are?  How confident are you about your personal boundaries? Do you feel comfortable in them?

If you answered no to any of these questions, let's explore it together.

What are Personal Boundaries?

Personal boundaries are the rules you have for yourself for how you conduct your life and how you expect others to interact with you. 

I imagine personal boundaries as a container.  Everything inside the container is what you are available for in life.  Everything outside the container is what you are not available for. The container itself is the rules.

Boundaries help you to be able to say no when you mean no. On the other side, boundaries help you to say yes when you mean yes - to open yourself up and be vulnerable with the right people to intimacy and close relationships of all types.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Boundaries

There are 3 general types of boundaries when we look at them from the perspective of healthy vs. unhealthy boundaries:

  • Rigid Boundaries: These boundaries are the ones that keep you at a 'safe distance' from others.  Being overly protective, not being willing to ask for help, and not feeling really connected to people are all signs of rigid boundaries.
  • Soft Boundaries: These boundaries are the ones that keep you too close or too attached to others.  Oversharing, having a hard time saying 'no' because you fear rejection or anger, and being overly involved in others problems (trying to fix other people) are all signs of soft boundaries.
  • Healthy Boundaries: These boundaries allow for deep and meaningful connection with the right people, taking on activity in life that feels good and helps you live the life you want while comfortably saying no to everything else. Knowing and valuing your own opinion, being confident in speaking up for what you believe in, and understanding and communicating your wants and needs comfortably are all signs of healthy boundaries.
Exploring Personal Boundaries | Rachel Bolton, Life Coach & Mentor

What Informs Your Boundaries?

Each person has their own unique set of boundaries. Those boundaries get created based on a number of factors including:

  • Culture - where you live in the world or where your family is from will inform your boundaries. For example, in some cultures a lot of public affection is normal.  In other cultures, no public affection is normal.
  • Family - the boundaries you experience in your family are your first learning about boundaries. For example,
  • Values - your values will tell you a lot about your boundaries. For example, a person who has values of compassion, empathy, and trust will have different boundaries than a person who has boundaries of forthrightness, truth, and success.
  • Experience - the experiences you have had up to this point in your life absolutely inform your boundaries. How you have been treated by others, the health of the relationships you have had with your family, friends and romantic partners, and what you have learned by interacting with the world all shape how you understand your boundaries.

Personal Boundaries Homework

A lot of women tell me they don't know what their boundaries are when we first start talking about them.  But it's usually not true.  At least, not completely.

If you aren't feeling 100% confident in having healthy boundaries and knowing what your boundaries are, I've got some homework for you today.  Your homework is to write down all of the personal boundaries you know you have already.  You don't have to share them publicly (that would be an overshare!).  If you're willing to do this homework, I would love for you to leave a comment and tell me one thing you learned while doing the exercise. Leave your learning in a comment below.

Photo Credit: Max Pixel

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Rachel is a coach supporting women to rediscover who they are beyond the *shoulds* of life. To create and live life on purpose.

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