“Boundaries are the lines we draw that mark off our autonomy and that of other people, that protect our privacy and that of others. Boundaries allow for intimate connection without dissolving or losing one’s sense of self.”
– Amy Bloom
I love this definition of boundaries by Amy Bloom – psychotherapist, author, screenwriter and probably my new shero.
Boundaries make it safe for us to engage with others, without compromising our independence. They separate us from each other, while at the same time allowing us to be close. Rather than a barrier to relationship, boundaries give us the means to connect authentically.
But what if we don’t know where they are?
If our personal boundaries aren’t respected in childhood, we struggle to find them in adulthood.
Without an understanding of our own and others’ boundaries, relationships are tricky. What happens if someone wants more from us than we’re willing to give? How do we say no?
Boundary violations can become so habitual we never stop to consider what’s OK with us and what’s not – we just accept without question and sleepwalk our way through our interactions.
It’s hard to define something that’s invisible. But while we can’t see our boundaries, we can feel them. Rather than ignoring what it feels like when someone steps over the line, we can use that sensation as a guide to identify our line. Then, instead of sleepwalking, we can wake up to our personal boundaries and begin to define them clearly.
Ultimately, we can learn to engage with others in a meaningful way while still protecting our autonomy, our integrity and our sense of self.