How to Set and Protect Personal Boundaries?

Many life problems are associated with the fact that we do not know how to protect our personal space. Personal boundaries are a necessary element of protecting your psyche in the modern world. Most psychological problems arise when a person is unable to independently determine the boundaries of his inner space. Below you can read about why they are important and how to set and to protect personal boundaries correctly.

Why do we need personal boundaries

First, let’s try to figure out why a person needs personal boundaries. In psychology, there are several concepts, among which there are personal space and personal boundaries. Personal space is a sphere that includes several territorial zones: intimate, intended for those closest to you, and personal – for friends, as well as social and external space.

In addition, personal space is a set of living conditions that are comfortable for you, including certain rules, principles of existence that are your norm. If no one violates your principles of existence, does not go beyond your established boundaries, you feel good and harmonious. Otherwise, you experience mental discomfort that interferes with a normal existence in society.

When are personal boundaries violated?

Let’s take a closer look at examples of clear violations of your personal boundaries:

  • Calls and voice messages from bosses outside office hours and on weekends
  • Parents visit your room without knocking after you turn 10
  • Your mom comes to check your home without warning or invitation
  • Criticizing or teasing from your parents, expressing their dissatisfaction with you or your lifestyle
  • Attempts to teach how to live, to give unsolicited advice – this applies both to parents and simply to acquaintances and colleagues
  • Looking at your phone over your shoulder, peeping at your computer at work, reading personal correspondence
  • Surveillance, finding out the details of personal life, checking things

Who do you allow to violate your personal boundaries?

Most often, we allow the loved people to violate our personal boundaries – parents, children, partners. For example, you have plans for the weekend, but you are suddenly left with grandchildren or asked to look after the dog.

Another common category of offenders is friends. A close friend constantly complains about life, does not listen to your arguments or advice, makes the same mistakes finding herself in the same situations, while she can call you even at night without thinking at all about how appropriate it is. It is clear that she does not need your advice, she just needs a shoulder to cry on 24/7.

People who ask you for something, but you do not want to give it or do it, also violate your boundaries. Because you cannot refuse them. These can be colleagues at work, bosses, acquaintances, distant and close relatives. One reason most often leads to the violation of personal boundaries – you do not know how to say “no” and clearly define your boundaries. You fear that they will take offense at you and, on occasion, will not meet you halfway. You force yourself to agree to something that does not suit you. You do not like it because it is not convenient. This leads to the fact that you experience mental discomfort.

How do you protect your personal boundaries?

In fact, there is nothing wrong with rejection. It’s just your choice – to agree or refuse, because for a person who values and respects himself his time, opportunities and desires will always be a priority. Therefore, you need to start defending your personal boundaries with the main thing – learn to say a firm “no”.

By the way, refusal also serves as a good test for the interlocutor. If the person begins to beg, ask, come up with some new ideas (in other words, manipulate you) after hearing a refusal, it may be worth considering if you need to communicate with this person. They may well be offended by your “no” and stop communicating with you. This is their right and their choice. Feeling guilty about someone else’s choice is counterproductive. More often than not, a person hears your refusal, understands it and begins to respect the one who refused him. When one person has a firm position, others tend to listen to it.

After you learn to say “no”, you can move on to the next stage – to outline your personal rules of life. You can indicate everything that is most important to you, including the timeframe when you can be called and texted, the range of topics you want to talk about, household chores, and much more. Your set of rules may look the way you like and fully reflect your understanding of how you feel about your comfort.

Don’t violate other people’s personal boundaries

The next step is realizing that other people also have personal space. A person who has built personal boundaries does not violate others’: he does not manipulate others in order to achieve what he wants, does not expect sympathy, does not believe that what he needs is much more important than the comfort of another person.

Think if you have ever violated other people’s boundaries. Of course, you had the best of intentions to do so. Perhaps you yourself have not yet learned to respect someone else’s personal space.

There are a huge number of examples. It is important to understand that everyone has a right to privacy. You can’t take on other people’s responsibilities, take on someone else’s work – everyone should do their own thing. You need to respect the personal space of other people, even if it is your husband or child, who seems to be on the point of doing something wrong.

This is their life, their choice, so learn to respect it. Allowing others to act the way they want is the highest expression of respect for someone else’s personal space.