The secret in maintaining healthy relationships and creating a friendly environment around you.
What Are Boundaries?
As we live in our modern world, we socialize a lot depending on our environment. Nonetheless, something that people should keep in mind is the boundaries they have. Everything is definitive when it comes to limits, a person knowing those limits is a person that will not pass over their boundaries.
What do I mean by that? Let’s start with a definition. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, boundaries can be defined as two things: “A real or imagined line that marks the edge or limit of something” and “the limit of a subject or principle.” Both definitions state that boundaries are limits of a physical object or a philosophical subject. This also means that boundaries will be defined as what people perceive as acceptable behavior.
Behavior patterns that show respect will be within boundaries, while behaviors that fall outside the boundaries will be considered as rude or inappropriate, exceeding the other person’s comfort level. This will be important throughout this blog as we will be discussing behavior patterns and ways to avoid overstepping boundaries.
Everyone Has Different Boundaries
As boundaries are defined by each individual differently due to cultural differences, personal experiences, or ways of thinking, the boundaries used with each person will be different. We can notice this by the way we talk with our peers. Friends can joke around and have fun with each other, while in certain cultures or situations, you would not joke around your boss even if you are on a friendly basis.
Boundaries are defined by society and changed by the environment. Making assumptions of what you can do is a mistake that people make frequently, because keeping the same state of mind you have in one place doesn’t translate to having the same outcome in another place. A change of perspective needs to be made before any action is taken, because people perceive the same events differently. An old saying I heard from my parents goes like this: “A person will see what they want to see, and hear what they want to hear.” That is why we need to create healthy boundaries for ourselves and let others have a clear understanding of them. An example could be a person whose culture allows for a closer comfort zone other than your own.You might feel uncomfortable with the lack of personal space, so letting the person know will allow them to reflect on their behavior with you and adapt to a more friendly environment where both of you feel comfortable.
Learning the Boundaries
Learning the behavior patterns in your environment will help you find what boundaries you and others feel comfortable with. Observing how people interact with each other and looking at their reactions will give you a sense of what behavior is acceptable to the people around you.
A mistake people make and don’t realize they are making is that they try to copy the way people behave without having any interaction with them. A person will be more accepting of people they already know than people that are not in their social circle. For example, most people new to the United States have the understanding that “How are you?” is a way to start a conversation, while most people living in the U.S understand that phrase to mean “Hello.”
One needs to observe the surroundings and interactions to understand the environment they are in. Find the general behaviors of people and learn the culture from analyzing them. Adapt some new boundaries to avoid making any misunderstandings. In case a misunderstanding is made, try to clarify the situation because people will view your actions differently from what you intended. Analyzing your own actions and improving yourself from the reactions of others helps you adjust your behavior while keeping your actions within your boundaries.
Make Your Boundaries Known
Having boundaries is for your own benefit rather than to help those around you; boundaries are a way to maintain balance mentally, physically, and spiritually. It benefits you physically because you don’t allow yourself to do things that make you feel physically uncomfortable. Boundaries help mentally because you know what you are doing and you don’t stress over it. It is a spiritual boost because you will not do anything that feels wrong, keeping your mind clear and conscience clean.
Making your boundaries known to the people around you will give them a clear view of how they should interact with you and will make it harder for people to take advantage of you. For example: a friend asks to borrow money, in the beginning you are fine with it and lend him some. As you start to notice that he is borrowing more money without paying back, you ask him to pay what he owes before borrowing more. If you are not firm on your decision and let him borrow more without paying, he will most likely not pay you back.
You want to make your stance clear and hold firm to them; if someone can make you disregard your boundaries one time, they will try to do so again in the future. This will make the person try to take advantage of you, which could be prevented by keeping your boundaries firm and clearly stated. Throughout life, boundaries will be necessary for your own good in all kinds of situations; make use of them in your personal life and work life to maintain healthy relationships and create a friendly environment around you.
|Ayavitl Acalli Gonzalez Navarro, who goes by Acalli, was born in Mexico and moved with his family to Singapore when he was 12. He is currently a student and International Peer Mentor at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.|
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