Setting boundaries is about creating healthy emotional limits –
I’m not the owner of other’s feelings, worries or reactions.
It is not my job to fix them or to make life better or easier for anyone else.
I want to love and be healthy so I will let others fix themselves.
Boundaries set a person’s limits about what they will and will not let into their life – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They provide a protective barrier that secures one’s identity and ensures a sense of safety in life.
Everyone has the right to self-protection and the right to say NO to others’ advances toward them. Sometimes, however, you might be the one poking into someone else’s space when you weren’t invited.
How Your Actions can be disrespectful to another:
You might be surprised at some of the ways you can be invading other’s boundaries even if your actions are carried out with the best of intentions. You infringe on someone else’s boundaries when you:
- become physically aggressive with someone (hit or shove)
- physically touch, hug another without their agreement to it
- borrow money and don’t pay it back on time
- barge into another’s private physical space (bedroom, office etc.) without permission
- listen in on phone conversations or snoop in another’s personal information (diary, emails etc)
- jump ahead of others in a line
- bully, insult them or make threats
- show up late or early to an agreed upon meeting time
- decide you know what is best for someone else and give unsolicited advice
- dismiss or minimise someone else’s beliefs, feelings or desires (“Oh, just get over it.” Or “You worry too much”)
- interrupt when someone is talking
- gossip about others
- ask questions that are too personal for the level of the relationship
- take up their time without asking their permission to do so
- impose your beliefs and values on someone else – such as – everything has to be perfect, or only certain actions are worthwhile.
- share confidential information with a third party after promising discretion to another person
Other ‘invader tactics’ that might surprise you include:
- taking on the burden of another ‘s problems rather than letting the problem rest with its owner
- over-sharing of your personal information without others wanting to hear it
- stepping in to help another when you have not been asked to assist
- being condescending to another or acting on their behalf because they are incompetent
Three reasons why Boundary Invasion happens:
1] You learned it – were raised to not consider other’s boundaries.
2] You need to be in control of everything in order to feel safe
3] You aren’t aware that your behaviours matter – “It doesn’t really matter what I do or say”.
How not to be an Invader
It is possible to make changes in your respecting others’ space with a few simple steps:
Appreciate – each person’s boundaries will be different so there is no ‘one rule’ to follow. Bring acceptance and curiosity to any relationship as the first connection.
Respect – every human being carries with them a unique set of thoughts, dreams, feelings and protections. Everyone wants to be honoured for his/her pursuits.
Listen – set aside you own thoughts and biases so that you can truly listen and understand the other person
Accept verbal cues – step back without reacting when you are getting too close – both physically and emotionally. Hear the person’s desire to be respected when their discomfort sets up a boundary.
Be aware of subtle signals – let the other person’s body language (folded arms, tapping foot, looking away, stepping back from you etc) be a signal that you have pushed into areas where you are not welcome.
Try this ->
Can you identify 5 ways you invade the boundaries of another?
How might you change those actions to honour the other person’s boundaries?
When you understand your own, you can learn to appreciate the boundaries of others. Respecting boundaries in relationships allows each person in that connection to be free to evolve and grow in their own right. From that place, love can deepen and life meaning can develop individually and together.