Personal Boundaries are the boundaries we choose to set in our interactions with others. When our personal boundaries are healthy, we have a clear sense of what feels right for us and what we want (what we feel a Yes to) and what doesn’t feel right for us and what we don’t want (what we feel a No to) in each new moment, and we express them honestly and directly to others.
Having healthy physical personal boundaries, for example, means that we honestly communicate our “Yes” or “No” to physical closeness or contact that is offered by another person. Healthy emotional personal boundaries allow us to say Yes and No truthfully, rather than doing or being what we think others want, to make them happy. Healthy personal boundaries are an essential foundation for experiencing healthy connection and closeness with ourselves and with others.
Say you own a piece of land; it has a boundary. The boundary is the point at which your land ends and others’ land begins and is usually marked physically by a wall or fence. Because of this fence or wall, both you and others can see the area that belongs to you and that is out of bounds to others, unless you invite them in. Unlike with a piece of land, when it comes to personal boundaries, we do not and cannot have a wall around us; our boundaries are not static, they change from moment to moment, depending upon a number of factors such as how we feel and who we are with.
As there is no physical fence or wall to indicate our personal boundaries, we need:
1. To listen deeply to what we are feeling inside and to trust our own inner sense of our true Yes and No in each new moment.
2. The willingness and skills to clearly communicate them assertively (see below).
Both our No and Yes are equally important – without having a clear and healthy No, it is not possible to have a clear and healthy Yes. Each time we express our true No, we are saying Yes to ourselves, thus building confidence and trust in ourselves. Both No and Yes can be expressed in a clear, open-hearted way.
Assertiveness is a communication skill and behaviour that supports our own personal rights and the rights of others. When we communicate and act assertively, we give ourselves and others right to:
* Clearly communicate our true, authentic No and Yes
* Ask for what we really want and need
* Express our feelings and views openly and honestly
* Be treated with respect and as an equal to others
* Be who we really are and live life the way we want to live it