These are similar and yet different.
In a personal and individual way we’re all ‘limited’ in our self-concept, abilities and behaviour. These personal limits can be changed with self-awareness, intention and repetition.
Our boundaries are the limits we set by choice rather than from old habits or conditioning.
We can set new boundaries with ourselves – (e.g. our time management, eating habits, lifestyle and relationships), as well as creating boundaries with others to clarify how we want and expect to be treated by them.
The important part is the ‘choice’ - and the reason behind it.
Why do we need boundaries, and with whom?
As we come to know ourselves better, we need to assert what’s OK with us and what isn’t – what we’ll do and tolerate, and what we won’t.
For instance, how much time you’re willing or able to spend with someone. How much money you’re willing to spend. What you’re willing to do sexually with a partner. What effort you’re willing to put into a job. What expectations or demands from others that you’re willing to meet.
They will affect your feelings, how you manage your time and energy, and ensure that you get your own needs met, and aren’t being taken advantage of.
How do we create and maintain our boundaries?
Be clear with yourself and others about the boundaries you want to have in place.
Keep your boundaries in mind – do they need re-enforcing with someone who keeps pushing against them, or softening with someone who has learnt to have more respect for you?
You may have mixed feelings about creating and enforcing your boundaries.
Perhaps guilt at not being the push-over and people-pleaser any more - particularly if others are ‘guilt-tripping’ you into reverting back to meeting their needs without question.
Maybe you’ll feel some discomfort at asserting yourself, your rights and your choices.
It’s equally important to become aware of and to respect other people’s boundaries too, and their right to have them – even if you don’t agree with them, or they irritate and restrict you!
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
Maxine Harley has a masters degree in psychotherapy, has written two books, and created four new approaches to psychological, emotional and physical well-being. She lives happily in Chichester with her daughter and grandson.