A boundary is any limit that promotes integrity.
It’s an indicator of what we decide is acceptable and what is not, and what allows us to make meaning in accordance with our cherished life values.
The secret is knowing that there are two types. Internal and external.
The former are physical boundaries that we set. They allow us to monitor and regulate the quantity and quality of other people’s interactions with us.
Here are few examples from my personal experience.
Cutting off contact with exes, confidently saying no to toxic people, choosing not to participate in gossip, turning off my phone at nighttime, or leaving the party early when people decide to start snorting cocaine off the living room table.
Pretty straightforward. Difficult to set, but simple to understand.
Internal boundaries, on the other hand, are much more complicated.
Melody’s groundbreaking work on codependence called them invisible and symbolic fences to protect our thinking, feelings, and behavior. These boundaries help us to separate our emotions and responsibility for them from someone else’s.
If you’re someone who is hypersensitive to other people’s feelings, problems, criticisms, to the point that you take them on as your own truth, you have weak internal boundaries.
If you give up your integrity in an effort to please others and keep conflict and confrontation at bay, you have weak internal boundaries.
If you are the kind of person who is easily manipulated and carelessly give away your heart and soul to the wrong people who end up hurting or taking advantage of you, you have weak internal boundaries.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Join the club. My internal boundaries were nonexistent for the first three decades of my life. It’s still something that requires deep, daily work.
A practice that’s been helpful for building my internal boundaries is creating a filter for incoming information. It’s a micro practice for checking the incoming information against what I know about my own truth. Figuring out where I stop and others begin.
Typically, in form of a question.
Is this message mine, or the desire of someone else?
Does this piece of feedback register anywhere in my body?
How well does this incoming information match what I know of my true self?
This way, if the incoming message has merit, it can be explored. If not, it can slip off my back.
All boundaries, whether external or internal, are the keys to dropping through to a more authentic self.
Learn to understand them, set them, accept then, enforce them and evolve them.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Who is currently violating your boundaries?
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