Boundaries can be thought of as personal rules governing what we will and will not accept from other persons in any given moment. Particular to the individual, they are tailored by themselves, though are often reinforced in social support networks, when the need to do so arises.
The limits set by boundaries are designed to protect the physical, emotional, mental, psychological and spiritual self from harm. For instance; psychological abuse and manipulation will almost certainly lead to mental distress and have a negative impact on a person’s emotional stability. Beyond these scenarios, such individuals may find it difficult to trust other people, withdrawing from mainstream society or seemingly uncomfortable in the company of others.
Although each person’s boundaries are likely to be somewhat unique, principally, they are protected by law. The most poignant example of this being the case would be in a scenario whereby an individual declines advances of a sexual nature from another individual, while their opposite refuses to acknowledge their limits and goes on to forcibly insist. This, being a primary example of the physical and emotional self being violated; essentially the committing of a serious crime against the individual.
Boundaries are also applicable to working environments. While individuals are required to sign an employment contract when taking up a working role, they are by no means under any legal obligation to carry out duties that they are uncomfortable with. In the most simple of scenarios, this may be apprehension with particular aspects of their role. Support and mediation may help to alleviate the individual’s concerns, but ultimately if the person refuses to carry out duties stated within their employment contract, disciplinary action may ensue.
Disciplinary action can range from the docking of wages to suspension, through to demotion; and in more extreme examples, termination of the employment contract. This being said, these are choices the individual is free to make. With some exceptions, all of us have these options available to us throughout our working lives.
In entering work-based environments, we all do expect, somewhat unconsciously, that our personal boundaries will be respected. Most of us will have at least a rudimentary awareness of our base human rights. For example, if somebody were to hold us against our will, we would intuitively know that this act would violate our human rights; our personal liberty. In law, this would constitute false imprisonment.
Clearly defined boundaries are at the root of all long-lasting relationships in life. I suspect all whom read this article know this to be true, for when somebody within our own life sphere is pushy, abrupt and refuses to take no for an answer in any given scenario, our relationship with them can become increasingly strained over time; or terminated altogether.
Boundaries go where we go. They are with us in the home, on the street, and within working environments. They are present when we go shopping, when we go to the cinema, or when we go for a dance at a nightclub. Boundaries ensure and reinforce a person’s sense of freedom and autonomy in their choices. They also aid in sustaining emotional and psychological well-being.
People may find it difficult to erect proper boundaries. Early on in life, many of us may have been over-relaxed with what we are willing to accept from others. This, in avoiding a potentially confrontational scenario arising. However, over time, and as we grow, it becomes clear to us that boundaries are a vital component of living a more balanced and peaceful life. Any short term negative response in the erecting of them, and the reinforcing of them when required, is far outweighed by negating potential long term negative and damaging scenarios from taking hold within our lives.
Essentially, boundaries are good for our physical and mental health. In my personal and professional opinion, our progress and happiness in life is limited without them.