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Personal Boundaries

Royal George, New River, WV 2016

Personal boundaries are the rules you set for what others may or may not do around you. Weak boundaries cost us our identity. Just as the havoc of a tornado invites looting by dishonest people, so too, weak boundaries attract needy and disrespectful people. Failure to set boundaries and failure to respect boundaries goes hand-in-hand.

Boundaries are complex and multifaceted.  A boundary is an imaginary line that defines, protects and establishes identity and scope (person, family, city, nation, culture, faith, time).  A plot of land without boundaries (fences, tree lines, highway, river) becomes an open plain for any and all.  

Without boundaries, its essence ceases to exist. Neither good nor bad of itself, a boundary provides essential limits.  Without personal boundaries, we lose who we are and become enmeshed in others; we cease to exist and in essence, anything goes. 

There are four essential areas in which to set personal boundaries:
1) Emotions - How will you communicate your needs or your feelings when offended?
2) Time - How much time and to what are you willing to commit? 
3) Values – What is your our highest ideal of you and how will you display it?
4) Possessions - What and how will you share?  Hint:  It is important to own before you can give. 

Give notice. Muster your courage and speak up. Inform of your boundaries and/or newly formed principles. Let people know you are learning new concepts and putting them into practice.

Enforce. When your boundary is disrespected, graciously make a clear request to stop.  Be firm, yet kind. Firmness shows respect for you and kindness shows respect for the perpetrator. Do not mistake kindness for weakness or passivity.

Disengage when necessary. It takes two to argue.  For the sake of wholeness, be willing to lay aside your opinions, your rights and your gloves. Do not be ruled by your emotions. Find the inner strength to detach from other peoples needs.  Not necessarily from the person, just from his/her neediness

Be assertive. Assertive is acting in your own best interest without harming another. Do not mistake assertive for dogma, anger or force.

Know who you are. When asked to prove his existence, the French philosopher René Descartes, responded, “I think. Therefore I am.”  Get in touch with the wonderful human being you are, think positive thoughts of overcoming and stand in amazement at your new existence. This is not to promote an over-inflated ego but a healthy self-love.

Change your environment. Indifference is contagious.  So too, success is contagious. It is not easy to change behavior.  It is easier to change your environment, which in turn will change your behavior. You decide what is normal by looking around you.  Keep an eye on your social environment, the one you are keeping and the one you are projecting.

The clean up after a natural disaster is time consuming and costly but well worth the effort. So to is the project of establishing personal boundaries; it is an investment in wholeness. 

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