Learning the importance of personal boundaries

Just like how most of the girls are brought up, I was also trained to be a “good girl”. A “good girl” in most people’s context is the one who cares for everyone, the one who is nice , kind, loving towards everyone and most importantly, the one who is obedient or in other words the one who follows the path decided for her by her family ,society and culture. Like most “good girls”, I have also been someone who derived a great deal of self-worth from how others accepted me. As someone who has been overweight from childhood and with not such a good looking face, I had to face instant rejections. I was a teenager then and didn’t know any better. So I would go the extra mile for people, stretching myself to extents where I fully forgot about myself. Result ? A little less than a decade later, I had become an emotional doormat. I was emotionally hurt, betrayed, drained and depleted. I knew it was time for deep transformation. I had to learn how to love myself enough to keep my cup full by myself. An important part of self love is learning to set personal boundaries. There is no love without boundaries.

As we know , boundaries are limits we set with others, which indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behaviour towards us. It helps us manage our energies better in a way to enhance our personal wellbeing.

Personal boundaries have two key features – Identifying your boundaries and setting your boundaries.

The ability to know our boundaries generally comes from a healthy sense of self-worth. Self-worth is valuing yourself in a way that is not dependant on how other people feel towards you. It involves being very mindful of your –

  • Intellectual worth and boundaries
  • Emotional worth and boundaries
  • Physical worth and boundaries
  • Social worth and boundaries
  • Spiritual worth and boundaries

Many people say that identifying your boundaries is the easier part and setting them is the tougher one. This was true in my case. But I have noticed that with people who have undergone a lot of emotional abuse from their early age, they are so use to pain that identifying boundaries can be a very tough task. In such a case, how does one identify boundaries ? An effective way is to observe the body sensations. You might feel a sense of contraction in many parts of the body or a sense of loosing energy or a feeling of crying in some intense cases. The moment you identify it, you have to be honest with yourself and tell yourself what you truly feel.

Two of the biggest hurdles I have faced while setting boundaries is fear and guilt. Fear of loosing people who might no more like me and guilt for making myself a priority. I’m also aware that these are most common hurdles faced by many. What helped me was asserting within myself that I can make better choices and a better choice was making myself the utmost priority. Of course since I also meditate, breathing in and out of these thoughts until they settle in without any resistance helps.

A big part of setting boundaries is communicating it in a way that doesn’t offend the other. I taught myself to be mindful of communicating only about what is ok and not ok with me instead of telling someone else what they should do and shouldn’t with me. I was fully aware that people might get offended anyway and they might reject or accept my words both of which were really OK with me. I fully accept any consequence of it as my choice and no one to blame. This worked like magic. I was getting into lesser fights with people, I was breaking older patterns with my friends and family which they had many a times no response to. It made such huge differences in my daily life. For the ones who don’t understand my words, my last resort has always been and is a stubborn silence.

Although still an ongoing struggle, learning to set personal boundaries was a blessing. I might not fit into the category of a “good girl” in many aspects, but I know within that I’m heartful in most of my interactions which comes from a space of expansion and not contraction.

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