Understanding Boundaries

One important way to take care of yourself is to set strong and healthy boundaries around yourself and your life. A Boundary is like an invisible line around you. It is the line between what you are comfortable with and what you are uncomfortable with, what is acceptable to you and what is unacceptable to you.

Without Good Boundaries
WITH Good Boundaries
Feel afraid, anticipate crisis, always expect the worst to happen
Feel secure, grounded, able to cope
Have difficulty saying “no”
Are able to set limits and say “no”
Change your behavior, plans or opinions to pacify partner-withhold your truth
Remain true to self and attempt mutually satisfying compromise that respects both
Make exceptions and excuses for partner’s behavior-even when appropriate
Are flexible and accountable and expect others to be flexible and accountable
Are unclear about your choices, preferences and opinions-wonder if you are right often
Feel clear and decisive and act to get what you want and need
Make others responsible for your good and bad feelings about yourself
Take responsibility for your own feelings and responses
Use guilt, fear, shame, intimidation or interrogation in attempt to change partner
Speak with “I” messages and attempt to hear and understand your partner
Are more focused on your partner’s needs, emotions and feelings than your own
Are in touch with your own needs, emotions, feelings and attend to them with self-nurturing
Are unable to get angry but often feel victimized
Can express healthy anger and refuse to be victimized by your partner
Feel you must physically separate to get space and feel safe
Can express healthy anger and refuse to be victimized by your partner
Often discount intuitive hunches
Listen and abide by intuition
Will comply with unwanted sexual advances in order to feel loved
Do not compromise your integrity for sex
Attempt to get your own needs met by constantly doing for other
Are direct about getting your needs met and do not attempt to manipulate others
Avoid knowing the truth in attempting to avoid pain
Willing to experience temporary frustration or pain as an accepted part of growth

If you have 7 points or more on the “Without Good Boundaries” side, you know that you need to work on setting stricter boundaries in your relationships.

Please continue with the next exercise:

Healthy boundaries allow us to control many things in our lives, including our own behavior and which behaviors we will accept from others. For example, a person may be comfortable with kissing her partner in public, but ‘draw the line’ at her partner touching her in a sexual way in front of other people. That ‘line’ is her boundary. Abuse happens when one person violates another person’s boundaries.

Think about your boundaries around physical touch, sexual behavior, language, morals and values. Write some examples of behaviors you are comfortable and uncomfortable with. (You may fill in the answers for your own use, but your answers will not be saved and cannot be submitted. No one will ever see your answers).

Boundaries I Am Comfortable With
Behaviors I am Comfortable With

Here are some additional things to think about:
1) How do you make sure other people are aware of your boundaries?


2) Do you think your boundaries are too rigid or not strong enough?


3) How can you improve on setting appropriate boundaries for yourself?

For more information, please call Advocates of Ozaukee at 1-877-375-4034.