A Different View of Boundaries

Happy Friday, RISERS! It’s nice to be back from a little break. I hope the first half of September has been productive for you. Here in Knoxville, we are closing in on Fall Break…and I am so excited. But for now, enjoy the weekend, especially since it’s feeling more like autumn.

Quote of the Week: “Boundaries are what you say no to. Priorities are what you say yes to.” –Nick Chellsen

Song of the Week: What song immediately comes to mind when I mention the band Journey? “Don’t Stop Believin,” right? Well, this week, I want to draw your attention to another song by Journey, released in 1986: “Be Good to Yourself.” At that time the band’s lead singer, Steve Perry, relied on life-affirming messages to help him face the negative things happening in his life. Along with two of his bandmates, Perry wrote “Be Good to Yourself” to remind people that you need to take care of yourself no matter what is going on in your life. You may be overworked or be facing obstacles that seem impossible. Just hang in there. Don’t stop believing, and be good to yourself.

Nugget of Wisdom of the Week: Boundaries exist throughout societies—between governments and citizens, employers and workers, educators and students, landlords and tenants, parents and children, and even among siblings and spouses and friends. What is it about boundaries that often causes friction or discomfort in daily life?

I think many of us immediately take a negative idea of what boundaries are supposed to be and assume that they will prevent us from doing something we want to do. Instead, we should focus our attention on the flip side of this concept. In addition to telling us what we cannot do, boundaries make us comfortable accepting what we can and want to do in our lives.

A psychological boundary is the line we draw that protects our integrity and sets realistic limits. A solid sense of what we stand for makes it easy to identify situations that will draw us outside the parameters we specify for ourselves. For example, one time at school I had to decide whether or not to divulge information. Keeping that particular secret to myself made me uncomfortable, so I informed an administrator of the situation to ensure I was above board and completely honest.

A geographical boundary is a set of parameters regarding where you can be physically located. I remember getting into trouble as a kid for riding my bike past the points my mother told me I could go. She set boundaries, and I ignored them.

Personal boundaries cover physical space, time, sexual activity, spiritual/religious pursuits, and emotional expression. We all like to think we are invincible. I know I do—but the fact of the matter is that I am not as physically strong as I wish I were. There comes a time when I must ask for help. Knowing how you want to spend your time will keep you (hopefully) from getting overcommitted and physically drained. In relationships, know ahead of time how much physical contact you want to share in each stage and stand by those boundaries; don’t let someone emotionally manipulate you into compromise. Know what you believe about spiritual matters. And finally, you don’t have to touch people if you don’t want to. I was a hugger as a teenager because my home life was a mess. Not until I was older did I realize that I had unintentionally made people feel uncomfortable by being so focused on hugging them that I didn’t read their body language and respect their boundaries.

Boundaries are not always fun, but they exist for our benefit.

Recipe of the Week: This week, I want to invite you to share a recipe with other readers of this blog. If you have any tasty creations that bring smiles to the faces around your own table, please leave the recipe in the comment section below.

Shout Out of the Week: I want to take this opportunity to shout out to all of the counselors, life coaches, and other professionals who help people find and maintain personal boundaries. No one likes to feel taken advantage of by their children, significant other, boss, or coworkers. Thank you for helping us to be both safe and seen!

Have a great weekend. Remember, you are most awesome, and YOU ROCK!

Marion Rhines is a foster-turned-adoptive parent. She lives in Knoxville, Tenn., with her husband and five children. She has written and published two children’s books as well as two foster-care-themed novels. She has a Facebook blog, Tips from the FLIP Side, and enjoys working with children of all ages.

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