The Buck Stops Here: Boundaries (The Personal Side)

Oh, boundaries! There is so much I could say about them, when I think back over my life from now to my first memories. There are family members I learned excellent boundaries from while growing up, and others who, as my friend affectionately says, “wouldn’t know a boundary if it jumped up and hit them in the face.”

What I have learned is how important (and helpful) boundaries are in all life relationships. And I think I started learning it best in grad school. In the practical piece on boundaries, I talked about grad school and one of our professors encouraging us to set boundaries with our closest family members and friends, because it would make our lives and relationships easier over the next four years.

And so, I tried it. I told friends and family members exactly what I thought I could and could not do over the next several months and years. I found it easier than usual to share my feelings because it was my “homework.” Some of my boundaries changed as the semesters progressed, but nonetheless it was extremely helpful to have and refer back to these boundary discussions.

I love the quote from the practical part of this piece:

I don’t set a boundary to offend you. I do it to manage the goals and priorities I have set for my life.

This was so true for me during that season of my life and continues to be so. I had specific (and demanding) goals as a grad student, and my boundaries were never meant to hurt or offend anyone. They were put in place to help me on my journey.

The same is true for me today. When I set a boundary, it is more about me than the other person. Setting healthy boundaries helps me take care of myself and manage my life well.

Boundary identification and setting is important and ever evolving. What I needed in one relationship 10 years ago is vastly different from what I need today. I still begin new friendships, start new projects and take on new responsibilities. Thus, it is important for me to regularly revisit and sometimes revise my boundaries. I need to make sure I am clearly defining them in my mind AND communicating them well to others.

Perhaps you could benefit from help with this too, especially as the holidays approach. You may be preparing to spend time with friends and family members—some of whom are not good at honoring boundaries. If you would like to speak with an Orlando mental health counselor about boundaries or any other emotional issues including stress, anxiety or depression, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.


Yolanda Brailey