Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

Recently I have had a few conversations about boundaries…how we make them, how we keep them and how we react when they are violated. It’s never easy trying to figure out where your boundaries are, some things seem straight forward (e.g. I do or do not want people to shake my hand when we greet). Then there are other things that are more difficult (e.g. just how long and how loud do I allow the neighbour’s music to get before complaining when it is intrusive?).

I wish I had a magic wand that could create boundaries that were clear and easy for others to see. The Chinese did a marvellous job of saying “our space, keep out” with the Great Wall of China. It is an awe-inspiring sight to behold. However, its rather difficult to have a boundary quite like that about what topics are and are not OK to talk about; or when visitors should leave.

My advice to someone today I was talking with was that wherever you draw your boundary, it needs to be reinforced clearly and quickly whenever violated. Do not wait until someone is so close to your space that they are sitting on top of you. No, as soon as you see they have started climbing your wall, speak up. You needn’t be rude, but you do need to be clear.

Boundaries help us keep a healthy sense of self, a balance in our lives that gives us breathing room when we are stressed. Boundaries create a psychological safe place for us. We need boundaries.

What boundaries have you set? How do you maintain them?

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