What I’ve learned about boundaries
Image: Nadine Shaabana Drzymtae | UnsplashSetting boundaries is essential for any relationship – monogamous, non-monogamous, colleagues, friends, and family.
by Tathra Street
"I believe that setting boundaries is one of the most important skills you can practise – not just learn, but regularly practise. It’s never finished; it’s always ongoing. And this will certainly be the case as we negotiate the post pandemic world, or even just post lockdown." After being limited in how much we socialise, setting boundaries is critical in creating safety for ourselves in what may seem like an unsafe world.

Being aware of your own limits and where the line is for yourself is the place to start – and communicating them is the next step.

Here's what I’ve learned about boundaries:
Nine helpful parameters
  1. Be responsible for communicating your own boundaries.

  2. Navigate the complexity and context-dependent nature of boundaries.

  3. Be gracious when someone is setting boundaries with you.

  4. Anger is an important signal, and may indicate you’re approaching a boundary. Respect it.

  5. A surge of energy felt in the body is your biology that is getting your attention. Ignore it at your peril.

  6. Regret can follow when boundaries are crossed without your communicating anything.

  7. If you’re feeling resentment, it’s likely because you didn’t set a boundary.

  8. You can set boundaries beforehand, but in the moment it’s likely you’ll experience it differently than you expect to. Balance being flexible with being true to yourself.

  9. Letting it slide to keep the peace only puts you at war with yourself. And sometimes you’re more capable of dealing with what’s happening than you think.
Moving forwardThink about what will be important to you as you re-engage with the people in your life; in real life. Some will be more concerned about protecting their health – respect this. We’ll all have different degrees of comfort in seeing people doing something as simple as hugging. I noticed myself bristle when I watched a scene on TV with people hugging earlier in the pandemic.

It reminds me of an interaction with a cousin. We met up for a run after restrictions eased last year. I hadn’t seen her for months. When I asked her if I could hug her, an enthusiastic no was the response. I respected her boundaries without question, but it didn’t stop me from wondering about it. But I knew it wasn’t about me, and that all there was to do was respect it.

Boundaries change over time, and will play a prominent role in the next year or so. Think about what your boundaries are and how you’ll communicate them. Practise with someone you trust. Know that in any given moment things may change, and that’s okay. Just be sure to check in with yourself afterwards. And remind yourself that you can handle the next interaction in a way that feels appropriate. Trust yourself and back yourself.
About the author:
Tathra is a Leadership Futurist, a coach, and facilitator, helping people align their impact with the intention. She specialises in skills development and behaviour change, and believes that taking collective responsibility is the path to an inclusive and sustainable future.
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