“Daring to set boundaries is about the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” – Brené Brown
Tracy Darling-DeMarcus, Prevention Program Manager
In the simplest terms, a boundary is what’s okay or not okay. Often when I’m speaking with young people about boundaries, they say things like “it’s drawing a line someone shouldn’t cross”, or “boundaries are telling someone what not to do”. Rather than framing boundaries as a way to keep other people out, I try to turn the discussion to how boundaries are a tool to keep us safe and secure in our relationships. For example, rather than saying “You need to give me some space”, saying “I need time for myself to feel my best in this relationship.”
One of the many reasons why people don’t set or keep boundaries is because they are afraid of being met with rejection, guilt, disappointment or anger. But setting and maintaining boundaries is an act of self-compassion. When we talk about boundaries as an act of self-love, we are saying that setting this boundary isn’t about keeping you out; it’s about me and what I need.
Learning to set boundaries and enforce them can be a challenging and long-term process. Like any skill, assertively communicating boundaries can take practice.
The Compassion Project: Let us be the ones who transform our world by allowing compassion to lead our action. Throughout the year, this column will feature the various ways to have compassion for others, for our specific organization, and for yourself.
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