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The Importance of Boundaries, Part 1 – Physical & Emotional


Boundaries are important. Most people don’t understand boundaries. Mostly, this is because they don’t have any themselves, so they feel insulted when someone else does. Boundaries allow you to define your space-mentally, physically, emotionally. Boundaries keep you from becoming overwhelmed, overpowered, and can help you remain calm, centered and healthy. Boundaries also keep you safe.

Physical Boundaries

Most people have a “comfort zone” around them. If you are with a stranger and get too close, they will back up. That is because you have entered their space. Some people’s “zone” is smaller than others’. You can experiment with it by going up to someone and speaking with her/him. Take very small steps closer to the person and notice how close you get before they back up from you. Try this with a variety of people: men, women, different age groups, different settings, and notice what happens. Notice how close you allow people to come into your physical space when you’re not doing this experiment.

When you teach young children about “inappropriate touching,” you are teaching them about personal space and physical boundaries. When you teach them about staying in the yard or the neighborhood or about not going off with strangers, you are teaching them about physical space boundaries.

There are other sorts of physical boundaries too. You might allow some people into the entryway of your home, but not the living room. You might allow them into your living room, but not your bedroom, etc. Your kids claim their bedrooms as their personal space, some more firmly than others, depending upon their age, temperament, etc. It is important to honor physical boundaries.

Just as you wouldn’t want a stranger barging into your home, or your kids barging into your bedroom without knocking, it makes sense and is respectful for you to knock and be asked in, before you enter your children’s bedroom when the door is closed.

You expect someone to knock before entering your office, bedroom, etc., yet you barge into your children’s rooms without thinking twice about it. You want the kids to ask permission to use something that is yours, yet you freely give siblings permission to use each other’s things, when those things are not even yours to give. Mixed messages all over the place! You are teaching them that they are not allowed to have control over their own space/property/lives. Oh, the government loves that! But is that really the message you want to give to your children??

Emotional Boundaries

Another type of boundary is the emotional boundary. When you are faced with emotions, yours or someone else’s that are overwhelming to you, it is important to find an appropriate way to deal with it. Likewise, it is important to teach this to your children.

If you are feeling angry, you need to consider the boundaries that have been crossed to bring you to that place. You also have to consider the boundaries you might be about to cross as a result of your anger.

When someone is all up in your face about an issue, sometimes you just have to put one or both of your hands up in front of you, palm facing them, and say, “Whoa!” It is a simple, physical action that expresses “STOP!” When you do this, and teach your children to do this, it allows for others to realize that emotional boundaries have been reached. It says, “Stop the action!” You can then back away from the situation and find another method to sort things out.

You might go into another room while tempers cool down. Think about what triggered the issue and consider if it was worth the level of escalation. (It rarely is!) Then, come back together to express love, apologize and discuss what got you heated up in the first place.

Oftentimes, fears of one or both individuals are the underlying trigger. Discuss how each person felt when certain boundaries were crossed. By centering the discussion on love, fear, and feelings, you can be more productive in moving your relationship forward.

Source by Faye Levow

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