a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line

Understanding Boundaries 

Life requires us to have personal boundaries, which are limits we set to protect our emotional and physical space. They can be very different from one person the next, and when healthy are designed to be impenetrable.

Think of it like a glass of water – we may not be able to see that there is a boundary there, but the glass keeps the liquid in, and anything on the outside cannot enter.  

Ideally, this is how we want our boundaries to work: we set them and they protect our personal emotional and physical space. They keep us safe, healthy, and balanced.

Boundaries & Trauma

When we experience trauma in our life, our boundaries are violated. This creates a constant state of “fight or flight” as well as an elevated need to protect our own safety. With this shift into protection overdrive, our boundary system is impacted.

When our safety is violated it can leave us feeling powerless. Those feelings translate into our inability to assess, identify, and enact a healthy boundary system, leaving us vulnerable to emotional and physical imbalance.  

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Boundaries

Usually, there should not be a grey area with your boundaries. They should be clear so that they can be communicated in such a way. But, for many of our clients, they often feel those grey areas more than they feel areas of clarity when it comes to boundaries.

Here are some examples of unhealthy and healthy boundaries:

  • Not interacting with clients/patients outside of the work setting.
  • Accepting clients/patients as friends on social media when unethical to do so.
  • Not holding ourselves responsible for the behavior of others.
  • Blaming ourselves for others behavior.
  • Keeping our personal lives confidential from clients/patients.
  • Sharing personal information with clients/patients.
  • Allowing others to make their own decisions.
  • Attempting to control or direct the decision of others.
  • Dictating your own feelings about a person or situation.
  • Allowing others to dictate our feelings or otherwise sway us from being authentic.
  • Asking for space and using it to protect our emotional health.
  • Letting others invade our need for space, allowing it to become detrimental to our needs.

These are just some very basic examples of unhealthy and healthy boundaries to demonstrate the limits created.

NO! – It’s a one-word sentence.

One of the clearest, precise, unquestionable words we can use when setting a boundary is NO. However, many of our clients report this being one of the most difficult words in the English language.

It was not fair that we experienced the trauma that we did. Nor is it fair that it continues to impact our lives. Unhealthy boundaries are fixable, even when it seems like they may not be.  

Change is possible, and that is what we do at The Bridge to Recovery. We help heal all aspects of trauma, which includes learning to identify, assess, and re-establish healthy boundaries. To learn more, we invite you to reach out to us today. Healing and happiness are available to you.