For healthy relationships with ourselves and others we need to know our boundaries and respect the boundaries of others. A boundary defines what is ‘my stuff’ and ‘what is not my stuff,’ they help to define who we are and what our responsibilities are, they also stop us from crossing into other people’s personal space. Boundaries evolve during our lies as we interact with different people and learn about ourselves and the world. Our caregivers were the first people we learnt about boundaries from and we in turn modeled our boundaries from them and from other social experiences.
Boundaries are vital to protect ourselves, they separate ‘you’ from ‘me’ and without this we become co-dependent and vulnerable to being taken advantage of by others, we also lose our sense of identity. Boundaries are your invisible fences and your way of communicating to others your limits and what is and isn’t ok for you. An example of a boundary is ‘I am responsible for my own happiness’ and an example of a non-boundary would be ‘You are responsible to make me happy.’
There are primarily two types of boundaries, external and internal. Internal boundaries help us to take responsibility for ourselves and our thoughts, feelings, behaviours, hopes and dreams. Having internal boundaries keeps us from taking responsibility for other peoples’ behaviours and feelings and stop us from blaming others for the way we feel.
External boundaries give us control around your physical being, we chose whom we let into our physical space and who and how we are touched. We need these boundaries especially when deciding who should touch us sexually and setting our limits around touch.