Thursday, February 24, 2011


All of us seem to know when our personal boundaries are being violated -- we may not always be so sure as to when we are violating the boundaries of others. Oh, sure, we know about not getting into another's personal physical space....we know when we are standing closer than we should to someone, etc. BUT, what about violating another's psychological boundaries. For example -- when we ask someone to do something for us that we know that they do not want to do, but we exert some sort of pressure to get our way. "Yeah, I know that you had plans to do some gardening this afternoon, but is that really so important that you can't watch my kid for just a half-hour while I run to the store?" -- and, of course, the mother of the dear-little-one is gone for over two hours. That's a boundary violation! One has violated the "friendship" boundary.

Boundaries are what keep the world in balance. They define one country from another...they define one state from city from home from another....and, they set the line between one person and another. When one country violates the boundary of another country (enters without permission), countries go to war (just think about Iraq invading Kuwait back in the 1990's -- see where that took us). When our interpersonal boundaries are violated, we engage in some sort of "war" (even if that war is within ourselves, and not stated). Therefore, it is important that we learn the skills needed to allow each of us to set and maintain the appropriate personal boundaries that we need so that we don't feel put-upon, angry or hurt. As we first start to set interpersonal boundaries, we will probably feel quite uncomfortable ("He won't like me anymore....She may abandon me!"). Learning to say "No" when that word is appropriate takes practice. We don't have to be angry to set appropriate boundaries. We do need to know our bottom lines. Stay "tuned" for more on how to set appropriate interpersonal boundaries.

Sandy Fournier, M.A., LMFT

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