Boundaries define our personal space. They help us create safety and take care of ourselves.
Depending on the family we grew up in, we may not have been given this important message: Only we get to determine what is acceptable and what is not acceptable within our personal space. In taking control of our personal space, however, it is important to remember that we do not have control over other people, although at times we may feel like we ought to or that the world would be a better place if we did.
It is rarely helpful to say to others, “You can’t do that” when indeed, they can. We can only let our loved ones know how their behavior impacts us, and how we plan to take care of ourselves around them from now on. We show them we are serious about our self-care by going for a walk when disagreements start escalating, or practicing neutral responses to defensive tirades. We start going to other people for emotional support when our loved one denies our reality, fails to respect our feelings or blames.
The first step in having boundaries is to know we have the right to take care of ourselves and to get our needs met.