Every week until the winter solstice, I am going to write about living with the seasons and their affect on us. I hope it might help someone. Just know that I love you.
I need to start this post out with the trigger warning. I will mention assault & family boundary violations.
Boundaries are about protecting yourself. Your boundary is a physical, emotional space around you. It can get larger or smaller depending on the situation, your comfort, the other people nearby.
Most people learn about boundaries from their family of origin (not-chosen family). Or I might say that we don’t subconsciously learn. You pick it up from the people around you when you are young. You learn what’s okay and what’s not. This includes what you say and try to communicate about your own boundaries, and how you are with respecting other people’s boundaries.
In this theory, there are also ‘boundary violations’. I know this is abstract but I’ll try my best to explain in ways that are more practical too (for the folks that learn that way). Your physical boundary can be crossed, like when someone stands too close to you and you feel crowded. It can also be emotionally crossed. This is sometimes harder to pinpoint. An everyday example might be when a stranger tries to talk to you in public and maybe you don’t feel like talking but they keep going.
Boundary violations go both ways. By this I mean that you can give someone not enough space or too much space. A lot of times people have trouble with both. I know for myself while I work on boundaries, I sometimes swing between the two directions.
Everyone’s boundaries are different and our boundaries change all the time. This is why it’s important to think about the second part of the equation which is respecting other people’s boundaries. They will not be the same as yours.
The best things we can do for our relationships is to ask others what they need and communicate our needs. This is the part you can control.
Physical & material boundaries
A physical boundary is the limit on space around you that feels like yours. Maintaining this boundary requires you to be able to choose if you want to touch, stand or sit near, hug or kiss anyone else (YES even relatives. This should not have to be specifically said. But it really, really needs to be said.)
Examples of physical boundary violations:
- touching anyone at any time without their consent
- someone standing too close, sitting to close
- people making children hug everyone even if they don’t want to
- physical abuse
- sexual assault
- neglect (not giving a child enough physical attention)
Emotional & mental boundaries
An emotional boundary is an imaginary line that separates your identity, thoughts, feelings from others. Maintaining this boundary requires you to be able to acknowledge and enforce your needs, and recognize those of others.
Examples of emotional boundaries: needing ‘space’, time to yourself, sharing emotions when you want to, telling people when you feel hurt
Examples of emotional boundary violations:
- asking intrusive or overly personal questions (when your relationship does not warrant it)
- abruptly talking about something upsetting with no warning
- reading someone’s text, emails, or journal
- giving someone too much advice or telling them what to do
- yelling, taking anger and other emotions out on someone
- commenting on someone’s body
- sharing personal information without asking if that’s okay
- taking on responsibility for someone else’s feelings
This is a complicated topic and there are many steps to take to build healthy boundaries. I hope to keep talking more about that here.
Important things to remember:
- The first step of boundary setting is to know yourself. This takes time and a lot of personal reflection.
- A part of this that a lot of people struggle with is feeling like they deserve to get what they need. In order to set and maintain a boundary, you must believe that you deserve that. It’s a self love journey that I’m on.
- Boundaries are not about punishing someone or manipulation. They are about protecting yourself and loving yourself. You deserve to be safe and loved.
Some more resources: