Boundaries Define Us
By Joyce Mayberry
“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom.”
Merriam Webster defines boundary in this way:
- Something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent.
- A line that marks the limits of an area, a dividing line.
When we talk about boundaries, we talk about restrictions and not necessarily freedom. There are several types of boundaries: mental, physical, and emotional. What type of boundaries do you have in your life? I think of obeying the law. Most recently, I think of COVID-19 and I think of social distancing. I just got married, so another boundary is being faithful to my spouse.
Let’s look at what’s going on today. The first thing that comes to my mind is the tragic death of George Floyd. In this case I would think that the four officers lost sight of their emotional and personal boundaries. What about the boundaries of COVID-19? Do you feel that the coronavirus is creating stress? You may need to create mental boundaries that help to give you freedom from listening to all the news.
Are there areas in your life where things are in disarray? If there are, then you most likely do not have boundaries in that area. At the Georgia Center for Opportunity, in the impact area of Family Formation, we see regularly where people refuse to set clear boundaries. It’s important as we work to strengthen families and to see individuals flourish that we all seek to acknowledge when this does not happen. The Healthy Families Initiative has relationship education classes to help you to begin to experience that freedom that Dr. Henry Cloud talks about. Until you sign up for a class, here are some quick strategies that will help you to begin setting healthy boundaries:
- Know your value. Be clear about knowing who you are and where you stand.
- Say what you mean and mean what you say. Have your words speak for you!
- Trust yourself and have the courage to say no.
As Dr. Henry Cloud says, setting boundaries is key to knowing where you end and someone else begins, and it allows you take ownership. Individually, we each can begin to take responsibility for what happens in our state, community, and families.