Understanding Boundaries Part II: How Do I Know I Need Them?
In our previous blog post, we explored what boundaries are and the different types of boundaries that we may experience or utilize in our daily lives. Consider the question “What do boundaries mean to me and my life?” As you engage with this blog post- formulate your own ideas and beliefs surrounding this topic- you may choose to free-associate ideas in a journal or notebook for future reference. For this blog, we will explore the function of boundaries as they relate to our needs and values.
What do boundaries do?
Boundaries function as a way to protect ourselves and for others to protect themselves. But, what exactly are we protecting and what are we protecting ourselves from? As noted in the first part of this blog series, there are different types of boundaries that address different aspects of our lives that we may encounter limits. These boundaries may be related to our spiritual lives, sexual lives, emotions, psychological health, physical bodies, time, and material items. Limits are meant to protect our rights as humans to different aspects of our lives that we deem valuable and important to us. Most importantly, they are meant to protect our needs- emotional and physical.
Understanding our need for boundaries
This is the key to understanding our needs for boundaries: how does this situation, experience, interaction feel to me and to what intensity am I experiencing this emotional response?
Identifying boundary issues
In order for us to recognize that a boundary is either being crossed or is needing to be established, we must first be able to 1.) identify how we are feeling 2.) identify what may be triggering this emotional response within us and 3.) identify how intensely we are experiencing that feeling.
Awareness of our feelings
If we begin yelling at someone, but we are unaware of what we truly are feeling or what triggered that behavioral response to yell, it becomes very difficult to communicate what we are needing. It also becomes difficult to resolve the situation in a way that is healthy for the relationship and maintains our own self-respect. If I understand that I am angry, but am having difficulty understanding what triggered that emotional response, then it also becomes difficult to communicate to the other person what they said or did that was difficult for you to experience or hear. It also becomes difficult to establish your own limits in these interactions, as you are unable to express what you are comfortable or uncomfortable with.
Here is a list of emotional needs that may be helpful to read over and journal to.
Safety Awareness Mourning Community
Love Learning Equality Companionship
Connection Partnership Harmony Challenge
Choice Understanding Movement Purpose
Affection Stimulation Food Meaning
Comfort Self-Acceptance Shelter Balance
Adventure Empathy Touch Hope
Play Friendship Humor Acceptance
Joy Inclusion Clarity Order
Growth Closeness Challenge Peace of Mind
Contribution Communication Creativity Faith
Presence Belonging Discovery Space
Progress Appreciation Efficiency Self-expression
Authenticity Care Relaxation Support
Trust Warmth Nurturing Inspiration
Spontaneity Freedom Shared Reality To be Seen/Heard
As you go through this list, pick out ones that you believe are most important to you (3-5 to start) Think about what it feels like to have these needs fulfilled in your life and what it feels like to have these needs ignored, neglected or taken away in some form. By going through this process, you are able to build a deeper understanding into your core needs and core triggers for emotions, such as anger, hurt, shame, discomfort, insecurity, fear and guilt- emotions that we tend to want to place limits on.
Decide what is important
Once you have established what is important to you, it is easier to then decide that these needs are worth protecting. At times, our shame seeps into our core beliefs and we lose sight of what we inherently deserve as a person despite our mistakes or shortcomings, or areas of improvement. This exercise is meant to help you understand that you do have needs that are important and are worth protecting because you are worth having these needs fulfilled in your life.
In our next blog post, we will explore the steps needed to establish and communicate effective boundaries so that you can actively work towards establishing healthy relationships with others and maintain your own self-respect in the process.
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