Boundaries They simplify life.
Every person has boundaries even though they may not consciously realize it. Boundaries can be related to what you allow to be done to you/for you, what you are willing to do, and how you choose to live your life. Some people are very clear about their boundaries and make them known to the people around them while others allow the boundaries to be porous and may even be unclear themselves as to where the boundary lies.
An example of boundaries is when someone walks up to you and stands so close to you that you feel uncomfortable. In this case, you will likely take a step back to add space between the two of you because they have crossed into your personal space. The boundary defining your personal space varies by culture and experience, but it always exists. Additionally, it will vary with family, friends, co-workers, and strangers.
Another type of boundaries is keeping personal and work relationships separate. The degree of friendship you can develop with co-workers and clients depends highly on the type of job that you do. For example, a psychologist can not become friends with their clients as all kinds of issues would arise. This is why it is always necessary for a psychologist to refer friends to another psychologist. Other professions may not require quite as strict of boundaries and may allow for some friendship and interaction with clients. However, at some point, you may need to decide if the person is a friend or a client because having them as both gets tricky or leads to ethics dilemmas.
Boundaries extend to work and social interactions in other ways as well. For instance, politics might be something that you define as off-limits for workplace discussions, you might have boundaries about acceptable behaviors (e.g. you don't hang out with people when they are treating others badly), or you may have boundaries set for your children (e.g. There are certain things that they aren't supposed to do, but then there are boundaries that don't dare cross.).
Boundaries can also be defined for how your time is spent. The most common time-related boundary is work vs. personal time as a part of achieving work-life balance. However, it can be extended to personal time, family time, etc.
Boundaries can make life easier, especially if you are consistent and clear with those around you. They help you maintain order and stability and are particularly useful when interacting with children, difficult people, and and trying to manage a busy life. To me boundaries are stronger and more powerful than rules. Loopholes are always easy to find with rules. For instance, the mom says that the teenager can't go out after 8 p.m., so they leave at 7:59 p.m. The conversation ensues that it wasn't 8 p.m. when the teenager left and the mom replies with the typical, "But, you knew what I meant." Setting a boundary or expectation instead can be much more difficult to manipulate.
Boundaries are not, however, meant to be rigid and never bending. Flexibility should be maintained, but you should be clear about the boundaries and understand when you are making an exception and why. Clarity, consistency, and a little flexibility of boundaries makes life so much easier.
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Copyright 2016 L. Thomson - All Rights Reserved