Did you know that there are many different type of boundaries that you can have in your life? Quite often when you hear the word “boundaries” being used it’s in terms of feeling like someone has not respected you or your relationship. Boundaries don’t just come in one form. There are many ways that boundaries are expressed in our lives. As you consider where you might want need to be learning how to say yes and no in ways that help you have healthy and authentic relationships in your life, you may want to consider these six areas that they may be needed.
EMOTIONAL BOUNDARIES. Emotional boundaries are related to your feelings. This involves you choosing when you will and won’t share personal information. How much of yourself will you open up to someone? The “yes” side of boundaries in this area could be choosing to gradually share personal information as your relationship develops instead of revealing all of yourself to anyone and everyone.
Something to be aware of in this is that nobody is fully responsible for another person’s emotional responses. While you have an impact on others in your life and they on yours, we each have our own feelings based on our unique personalities and experiences, and you are responsible for your own emotions. This means that you also allow others to carry their own emotions and don’t take them on yourself.
INTELLECTUAL BOUNDARIES. These boundaries are related to your thoughts and ideas. If you have healthy boundaries in this area, you respect others’ perspectives. Intellectual boundaries are violated when you are dismissed or someone tries to control what you think or believe. You also violate boundaries if you put down someone else’s thoughts or ideas because they don’t match yours.
An example of an intellectual boundary would be someone’s faith beliefs. You have the right to practice your spirituality in the way that is meaningful to you, and a healthy boundary means that you respect others in your life who have a different faith system.
MATERIAL BOUNDARIES. These types of boundaries relate to your money, space and belongings. Healthy boundaries in this area would be about what you physically share with others or choose not to share. For example, you might choose to pay for dinner for a close friend, but not for a co-worker. Your boundaries can be violated in this area if someone steals from you or returns a borrowed item with damage sustained. Another example of violation in this area would be when someone pressures you to give them something…such as lending them your car or a membership number so they can get a discount on something they are buying.
An example of boundaries with materials would be how you choose to value your money. Who do you share your money with? What do you choose to spend it on? Consider what your values are in this area and why your approach is important to you.
PHYSICAL BOUNDARIES. This is probably the most obvious and outward expression of boundaries since this refers to your own personal space and how and when you want to be touched. A healthy boundary reflects an awareness of what is appropriate and what isn’t in the different relationships you have. Do you hug a friend or a co-worker? Who do you kiss? When is it appropriate to shake someone’s hand as opposed to give them a hug? Are you okay if someone touches your pregnant belly?
Something to note about physical boundaries is that your experience of physical space is unique to you. Your family approach to touch and physical space can affect your understanding of what is appropriate and what is not, along with your personality and culture. That’s okay and works for you, and you can be curious about what works for others as well.
RELATIONAL BOUNDARIES. This is probably the most common area that you may consider what boundaries look like in your life. These refer to the way that you express yourself and interact with others. These boundaries will vary depending on what relationship you are in. For example, if you are at work, you might only share certain parts of you, while your spouse gets to see all of you. Boundaries can be violated in this area when people don’t respect your wants, needs and sense of what is safe to share in a relationship.
Most of what I share in social media relates to how you can set healthy relational boundaries. Setting healthy boundaries in this area involves a lot of communication. You get to choose what your boundaries are in your relationships, but if you are wanting to have healthy relationships you need to be able to tell others what those boundaries are so they have the opportunity to show you that they have heard you and respond accordingly.
TIME BOUNDARIES. How do you choose to use your time? Where do you choose to give your time and energy? In order to have healthy boundaries in this area of your life you want to understand what you value and why. As you get a grasp on that, you will have choices of where you spend your time and with who. This can also be translated into self-care. Knowing that you are an introvert means that you make sure that you have an appropriate time each week where you choose to be on your own and do activities such as reading, listening to music or doing a hobby. This gives you the energy you need to be in relationship with others at work, in your family, and the friends you have.
Anne Katherine speaks to this boundary in this quote “We hurt ourselves when we give our time, the minutes of our life span, to pursuits that don’t match our own values. We each need to assess our own truths around the use of time, be clear about our own feelings and values, and protect our own time needs.”
Time boundaries are also associated with technology. How much time will you let your phone take up? Are you okay with the amount of time you spend flipping through social media? Is it in line with your core values?
As you consider these six different types of boundaries, which area do you feel stands out to you as the one that feels the most off balance? As you consider the changes you want to make in that area, remember that you want to start small and have someone who will help to support you and hold you accountable. This sets you up for the best chance for success in implementing the changes you want and need in your life.
If you would like help identifying where your boundaries are being crossed and how to start implementing new, healthy boundaries, you can contact me here. I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation for you to see if I am the best fit for you as you start down this new way of showing up in your life.