Throughout the history of mankind, boundaries of all kinds have played an important role in human interactions. Ancient kingdoms, towns and villages marked their territories by building various structures such as moats, walls and forts.
It seems that our ancestors instinctively sensed the need to protect their communities against external threats such as potential predators who were constantly on the prowl. These predators included soldiers and nomadic barbarians from other regions, who were ready to loot and plunder.
In today’s day and age, we live in a relatively more civilized world where political boundaries are respected and adhered to. However, this does not imply that it is safe enough to completely eliminate the need for protective structures in our global diaspora.
Just as countries need to maintain defined, political boundaries to protect their citizens, we too need to establish personal boundaries to safeguard our individual interests and shield ourselves against harmful influences.
In fact, learning how to create healthy boundaries is one of the most critical social skills. It’s important to find a balanced approach, because if we create too many boundaries, we risk living a life of isolation and fear. But when we create them from a place of self-love and wisdom, boundaries can serve us well.
Yet many of us falter in applying this principle in our interpersonal relationships. We were raised to believe that we should give people the benefit of the doubt and strive to see the good in them. The media perpetuates this notion by setting unrealistic standards for relationships and friendships.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a utopian society where every single person is balanced and evolved enough for us to be completely open and vulnerable. The reality is that human nature is unpredictable and we can never know what kind of neurosis or unhealthy behavior patterns other people might be harboring within them.
Just think about the countless stories you’ve heard of people who placed their trust in others, either in their workplace or in their personal life, and were eventually hurt, betrayed or even physically harmed by them. If they listened to their intuition and created boundaries, they could have prevented any of this from happening.
Now I’m not saying that we should all become paranoid every time we encounter new people. That will certainly not give off a pleasant or friendly vibe to others! Instead, we should balance a friendly disposition with some cautious pragmatism. By becoming more conscious of our interactions with others, we are securing both ours and our loved ones’ safety.
Even in relationships where there’s an implicit sense of love and trust, boundaries are still required – but for a different purpose. We need them so that we can carve out some personal time and space to pursue our unique interests (and allow the same for the other person). This helps preserve our sense of identity and fulfill some of our needs that our partner is unable to meet.
For example, let’s say that you enjoy attending personal development seminars, while your partner would much rather go to sporting events with his buddies. You could occasionally do both of these activities together, but you will need to spend some time away from each other if you would like to pursue these interests more often.
Creating boundaries so that we can engage in personal activities will always prove to be healthy for any relationship in the long run. If we don’t, it could result in feelings of resentment and restriction, and therefore ruin the dynamic within a partnership.
So building personal boundaries is not only an essential act of self-care but also a way of maintaining the quality of our relationships. It will ultimately preserve, protect and enhance our wellbeing.
Here are some thoughts on how you can build boundaries effectively:
- Take your time when getting to know new people. Use your instincts to help you discern others’ motives and intentions before opening up and making alliances. We often get caught up in the first flush of love or friendship, which makes us lose our sense of objectivity. Observe and assimilate the other person’s behavior patterns before deciding how close you would like to get to them.
- Always be strongly aware of your true identity when merging in a new friendship, group or relationship. If you are not aware of your values, strengths and purpose, you will find yourself being easily influenced and made to follow another person’s script. For this reason, it’s vital to never lose touch of who you really are.
- Have at least one person in your life with whom you can openly share your feelings with. Everyone needs an “emotional cushion” to fall back on whenever things get tough. Choose someone who you feel safe with, who has earned your trust, and has your best interests at heart. This person could be your partner, a family member, a friend, or even a coach or therapist.
- Make “me-time” mandatory. Create time away from the hustle and bustle of life to reflect and rejuvenate. During this sacred time, you can engage in activities that nurture you. When you get comfortable with spending time on your own, building boundaries will feel more natural to you.
The world is filled with wonderful people from different types of backgrounds, races and nations. By learning how to interact with others from a place of love and strength, we build our capacity to create fulfilling and diverse relationships that will enrich us and open our eyes to other dimensions of living on this beautiful planet.
All my best on your journey,
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