Boundaries we set for ourselves set a line between areas which we are comfortable allowing others to access and areas of no-entry where our self-worth and dignity are tread upon. Without boundaries, people can easily take advantage of us and cross into areas which would harm us or cause offense. It is healthy to have boundaries set. It defines the person and helps others find it easier to be more respectful.
Without realizing it, boundaries exist with expectations we have. Unless these are clearly stated, it is likely these boundaries will be breached because each individual’s definition of what is permissible is completely different. Usually, it is when these are crossed, and we are offended, that we finally state what our expectations are. It may take having these boundaries crossed by others before we even know how to define them. Likewise, it may take having boundaries crossed to learn to redefine our limits we have and adjust them.
For those who already have a good idea of their own personal boundaries, vocalizing these helps clarify them to others. The most common areas we have boundaries for are:
- Affection/Sexual (unwanted touches, sexual molestation, rape, sexual boundaries, boundaries of relationships with those outside of relationships, acceptability within relationships)
- Dignity/Self-respect/Worth (verbal statements, actions of disrespect, public humiliation, disowning, belittling, slander, stripping of clothes, comparing to shun, insulting mental, physical, or intellectual ability, insulting physical features, degrading, stating incapability or unworthiness)
- Financial (discussing financial information, addressing wealth or poverty, discussing paycheck or salary information, worth of property)
- Beliefs (religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual beliefs, ceremonies, or opinions especially which one feels strongly about, respecting the practices of religions and ceremonies)
- Sensitive subjects (anything which might not be openly discussed or the party is hesitant to talk about, personal matters, family matters, etc)
- Property (cars, electronics, houses, assets, or what a person does not have)
- Knowledge of personal information (relationship, medical, personal, social, private information, hygiene, showering, bathroom and toileting, weight, anything sexual related, habits, addictions, struggles)
- Respect to elders or leaders (parents, senior level family members, managers, political or religious office)
- Respect to party and minors (adjusting the nature of conversation for the parties intended of any age level, determining what is appropriate for minors, and children of certain age levels)
- Spying and Eavesdropping (eavesdropping and snooping on someone’s life, spying, using a remote application to view another person’s life, reading other’s correspondence or accounts written or electronic, gathering information of any kind without permission by witnessing, reading, or listening)
- Failures and successes (losses, relationship breakups or divorce, miscarriages, addictions, bankruptcy, foreclosures, job loss, successful gains especially which put a person at an advantage over others)
- Associations (associations of any kind for the sake of gossip, wealthy associations, less fortunate, mixed racial, or those which may be controversial)
- What we share being shared to others (sharing information you were given to others)
- Generosity (charitable givers may want to remain anonymous)
- How we are spoken to by others (speaking respectfully to others)
- Intangibles we value (beliefs, values, ethics, love for God, love for others, family bonds, friendships, reasons for why, rapport, business acumen, attitude, your process, reason for thoughtfulness, ability to lead, separating business and personal)
Boundaries are limits. It is a stopping point which must be observed or else an offense is committed as the person trespassing crosses into an area which is off limits without permission to access.
The more prominent the individual, the easier it is to acknowledge their boundaries, because of their position and for an individual’s own benefit or recognition. For the rest of those in society, we consciously make a decision to respect other people’s boundaries because we value them and find them important simply because of their human existence. Respecting boundaries is a way to give dignity and self-worth to the person. If these are crossed by accident, then an apology is due, as the offender makes haste to return back to what is acceptable either acknowledging that the boundary was crossed, or to ask for permission for an exception to be made. This is good etiquette.
In an idealistic society there would not be any boundaries at all. For the free-spirited person, this is an enchanting idea. However, this utopia can only exist if basic respect is practiced by all, in a society of clones. As unique individuals we all approach “free-will” differently. Some are more conservative, while others will live more liberally. With different life experiences, each person has different boundaries. The common ground can only be found in respecting these boundaries to give worth to the person’s human existence as a unique creation that deserves respect.
—Clean Up Dallas with Culture and Kindness
This month’s topic “May I”, addresses the importance of boundaries and asking permission in everyday life situations, dating, when borrowing property, observing others, and the effects when boundaries are tread upon. Boundaries and privacy are important! Good etiquette asks “May I” and respects others!
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Learn more… Search for these on Amazon!
Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition:
When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life
by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Invasion of Privacy: How to Protect Yourself in the Digital Age
by Michael Hyatt
Saving Face: How to Preserve Dignity and Build Trust
by Maya Hu-Chan
Starring: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega