Physical, mental and emotional boundaries are an important part of our lives. Without them, immense damage can erupt in our lives, hearts and minds.
When a child is little, you put up boundaries in their life to keep them safe. Things like gates appear in your home so that they cannot fall down the stairs for instance. Or a car seat to keep them safe while you are driving. These are boundaries that a child can perceive to be negative but you know that they are preventing something bad from happening.
In December 2008, I left a situation that was terrible to come to Scotland. To keep myself safe, I had to set up a number of boundaries. For example, I put in place a mail forwarding process for 6 months so that I could still be reached, but on my own terms. This was very much done as a preventative measure, even though at times I didn’t feel safe.
You can also set up mental boundaries. If you find dealing with a particular person draining, or discover that although you appear to get on well with them, you defer to them and their opinion even though you know what to do, it is wise to set up a mental boundary. Sometimes, as much as you love a person, they are not good for someone of your personality, it is wise to set up mental boundaries so that you can function to the best of your ability.
Emotional boundaries are more difficult. Not in the sense that you should cut off all feeling or emotion. If you do that, your emotions are shut down inside and it leaves you separated from the world around you. That is not a good thing to do at all. Internalising your feelings impacts you physically and you end up sick because of the strain this leaves in your body.
Sometimes a boundary is simply saying “no.” You can be so busy doing things for other people that you neglect your own self-care. I tend to find that I say yes to the wrong thing and my physical health suffers because of it. When we had the van, I kept saying to myself and others that I would drive it to get around, but it was draining all my energy and I was ending up sick. I am trying to view it as saying yes to myself and not as a no to others.
Do I get my boundaries right all the time? Not at all. I don’t think anyone does. However, it is something that can be worked on and developed in your life circumstances and situation. You can improve your quality of life when you do have boundaries in place.