Personal Boundaries

All prob­lems in life may be divided into ones we can do some­thing about and the prob­lems we have no influ­ence over. Every one of our prob­lems is either within the sphere of our con­trol or it is not , e.g. it is inside or out­side our per­sonal boundary.

Your per­sonal bound­ary marks the line between what you con­trol and what you don’t. Solv­ing prob­lems begins with the cre­ation and famil­iar­ity with a healthy, mature and inte­grated per­sonal emo­tional bound­ary, so that you can eas­ily dis­tin­guish what you can con­trol, and LET GO of what you can­not. Spend­ing your emo­tional energy on what you can­not con­trol is called emo­tional SUFFERING.

Space inside your per­sonal bound­ary is your safe space, your COMFORT ZONE. That’s where you feel com­fort­able and in con­trol i.e. per­form­ing rou­tine tasks, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with peo­ple you know well about things you are knowl­edge­able about, etc. What lies out­side of it is unknown, you feel UNCOMFORTABLE  and that pro­duces FEAR. Applied to your rela­tion­ship, if your com­fort zone is deter­mined by your rela­tion­ship, you will nat­u­rally fear a break up.

We often allow our bound­aries to develop HOLES. When­ever you get afraid of some­thing that is not an imme­di­ate threat to your life, your per­sonal emo­tional bound­ary has been punc­tured; you have allowed an out­side influ­ence that you have no con­trol of press your but­tons and let your bound­ary be vio­lated. When­ever you use the word SHOULD, you allow the out­side cir­cum­stances that you can­not have con­trol over pull your chain. Some typ­i­cal exam­ples are: “She should not leave me”, or “He should love me.” (Feel free to add those hun­dreds of your own.) Instead, con­cen­trate on what YOU can do about it now (within your con­trol and INSIDE your bound­ary) instead of what should be or, even worse, what should HAVE BEEN. What dif­fer­ence does it makes if you think that she should not have left or that the earth should be flat? Yes, you may wish, but you, unfor­tu­nately can­not change the past events or the present real­ity. So, con­cen­trate on what you CAN do about it and CREATE the future by expand­ing your per­sonal bound­ary. You can­not pre­dict  the future no mat­ter how hard you try. There are too many unknowns out­side of your boundary.

Your per­son­al­ity is deter­mined by your pref­er­ences, i.e. say­ing YES to some things and NO to oth­ers, con­sis­tently. Your likes and dis­likes deter­mine your per­son­al­ity. If you are wishy-washy about your pref­er­ences and what you like and dis­like you are open to punch­ing holes in your bound­ary, thus hav­ing a “weak per­son­al­ity”. Your per­son­al­ity is being invaded from out­side and that trans­lates into SUFFERING. When your per­sonal bound­ary is solid, capa­ble of say­ing NO and hon­or­ing NO (this is where your per­sonal integrity comes in, see The Game­less Rela­tion­ship on integrity), you are well pro­tected from STRESS. Say NO to stress and it goes away. Stress orig­i­nates in uncon­trol­lable envi­ron­ments, out­side your bound­ary. You can say no to any influ­ence from out­side of your bound­ary. Holes in your bound­ary are the places you have trou­ble “say­ing NO” or “hear­ing NO”. Say­ing NO to things that you don’t pre­fer and being able to take NO for an answer will only strengthen your bound­ary. Peo­ple who have “their but­tons pushed” or let­ting oth­ers “get under their skin” have very porous bound­aries. If you are being vic­tim­ized in any way, your bound­ary has been pen­e­trated. Peo­ple whose but­tons can­not be eas­ily pushed and peo­ple with “thick skin” have strong per­sonal bound­aries. Peo­ple who can eas­ily be manip­u­lated by SHAME, or made to feel GUILTY need to start seri­ously work­ing on their bound­aries. But, be care­ful. You may build imper­me­able WALLS around you.

Bound­ary WALLS may be just as detri­men­tal to your rela­tion­ship as bound­ary HOLES. Some­times we learn our lessons “the hard way” and plug the bound­ary hole too tightly. If your pre­vi­ous rela­tion­ship was “bad”, say, you were emo­tion­ally manip­u­lated, you might have promised to your­self “never again” and close your­self to inti­macy with ANYONE. Post-traumatic Stress Dis­or­der is a good exam­ple of how men who came from com­bat are “unable to feel” any­thing. It is not that they are unable, they just say NO to inti­macy and feel­ings. They have been hurt too many times and now build thick walls around them­selves that even the most lov­ing part­ner or any mem­ber of their clos­est fam­ily can­not pen­e­trate. You’ve also heard peo­ple get into gen­er­al­iza­tions such as: All men are_____, or women are______. That’s how walls are bul­let: mak­ing gen­er­al­iza­tions out of you own nar­row expe­ri­ence. Being a her­mit is just as bad as wear­ing your heart on your sleeve, as Paul Dobran­sky, MD would say.

In con­clu­sion: it is mat­ter of your integrity, men­tal health, and per­sonal devel­op­ment to con­stantly expand a healthy per­sonal emo­tional bound­ary that will not have holes in it, but be able to will­ingly open to pos­si­bil­i­ties that will allow growth of your per­sonal bound­ary and thus enlarge your abil­ity to influ­ence your life. The size of your healthy and mature per­sonal bound­ary will deter­mine how suc­cess­ful you are in all areas of your life, includ­ing your rela­tion­ships with loved ones.

Click HERE for The Rela­tion­ship Saver, The Fast Track Man­ual for Sav­ing your Relationship.


October 16, 2011

Posted by:

Category: Awareness, How to, Marriage


Comments (7)


October 20th, 2011 at 5:11 PM    

This is a great arti­cle. It really hit home for me. I have been strug­gling with a sit­u­a­tion in my rela­tion­ship where I have felt like he “should” talk to me about cer­tain things that he doesn’t want to share with me. It has eaten at me for months and grown into some­thing in my mind that is out of line with the real­ity of the sit­u­a­tion. Your arti­cle has helped me to see that the real prob­lem isn’t him, it’s how I feel about the sit­u­a­tion. And that’s the only thing that I have any con­trol over, I can’t make him talk to me, but I can change how I view the issue. I have been allow­ing fear to con­trol me and to cre­ate a prob­lem in our rela­tion­ship. After read­ing your arti­cle I feel like the huge bur­den I’ve been car­ry­ing for nearly a year has been lifted and there is a solu­tion to my prob­lem. So I want to thank you and let you know how much I appre­ci­ate your insight.

Steve Ross

November 7th, 2011 at 8:51 PM    

Great stuff as usual Radomir – straight to the core of the mat­ter.
From this I think some­one plagued with rela­tion­ship issues/doubts can do the fol­low­ing:
Accept that things beyond your influ­ence are just sim­ply the way things are, you don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to like them – these things are sim­ply part of yours’ and maybe every­one else’s lives. Prac­tice accep­tance first on the gen­eral then bravely focus on your spe­cific issues. Once done — your per­sonal bound­ary will have increased – pos­si­bly greatly. You will find your­self accom­mo­dat­ing more stuff will­ingly — be more in con­trol because you have addressed your dis­tor­tion of real­ity. Hap­pier, accept­ing the abun­dance of oppor­tu­ni­ties pre­sented.
If those nag­ging rela­tion­ship thoughts invade your mind, tak­ing on a life of their own – say: NO, “my bound­aries are whole, my mind-space is MY com­fort zone and I dic­tate what occu­pies my valu­able time here!”. Then just let it go, let it slip away till it just doesn’t mat­ter.
The next step is “uncon­di­tional love” Radomir elab­o­rates on elsewhere…


November 9th, 2011 at 6:19 AM    

Very well put. It is impor­tant to know your own bound­aries and know what you can/can’t change. That was a prob­lem I used to deal with try­ing to change things that I have no con­trol over. I’ve learned to take con­trol of what I can change and know to acknowl­edge the things I can’t. It is impor­tant to also open up to your bet­ter half if there is some­thing you can change but know you need their help with as well.


December 22nd, 2011 at 11:38 PM    

Your wis­dom is heal­ing. Thank you for sharing.


January 11th, 2012 at 4:54 PM    

What an insight­ful post. Per­form­ing an inven­tory on our own bound­aries and con­sid­er­ing the holes and walls in our rela­tion­ships is some­thing every per­son should take the time to do. Great thoughts.


June 23rd, 2014 at 9:32 AM    

Great speech about per­form­ing inven­tory on our own bound­aries, does say a lot about every sin­gle per­son with dif­fer­ent characteristics


September 2nd, 2014 at 9:30 PM    

Let­ting things go when they are out of my con­trol, is my biggest prob­lem. Good article!

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