What are boundaries? Boundaries are the limits we hold in relationship with another person. These limits differ depending on the relationship and the level of trust and safety we feel. We can keep ourselves fairly closed off, or we can open up more if we feel okay. Our boundaries tell us when to say no and when to say yes. Healthy boundaries let us open up to others and experience intimacy without controlling or being controlled. We feel less fear in being vulnerable if we know we are able to draw the line when we need to; being able to say no means we can say yes fully when we mean it. And when we are confident in our limits, others respect them better.
Sometimes our limits are perfectly clear. But if we've been brought up pleasing others, or had our needs neglected, we may not have a real sense of them. We may find ourselves agreeing to things we don't want, or trying to control what other people do behind the scenes. We may feel miserable afterwards. Likewise, people who are aggressive to get their way have a poor sense of boundaries. Power dynamics can also affect boundaries -- it can be difficult to say no to your boss, for example.
How do we know our boundaries? Generally, they have been shaped by our families, friends and social norms, together with our personal talents. Someone with a naturally loud voice will have a different experience than someone who is naturally quiet. We can re-learn our strategies for dealing with other people -- when to take a new chance, when to make a move, when to separate ourselves from what someone else is doing. Counselling can help you figure out what you feel is an acceptable limit and identify whatever is holding you back. Then I can help you find new strategies, what to say in difficult situations, identify your bottom line, or practice new skills.