You may be familiar with the psychological term “boundaries,” but what does it mean and how does it apply to you?
Put plainly, boundaries are the line between where I end and you begin. Healthy boundaries define who we are in relation to others. They also help us to know what the extents and limits are with others. Personal boundaries are how we teach people who we are and how we would like to be handled in relationships. Boundaries help you to say, “This is who I am.”
Good personal boundaries protect you. Without them life feels scary and you may feel anxious. Having a sense of boundaries and limits also helps you to connect with your true self. They are based on your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices, wants, needs, and intuitions. They are clear, firm, maintained, and sometimes flexible.
Ultimately, when you don’t protect or overprotect your boundaries, your needs go unmet, which can lead to anxiety or compulsive behaviors such as overeating, addictions, or working too much. Setting healthy boundaries allows you to connect with yourself, your emotions and your needs. It allows you to feel safe, to relax and to feel empowered to care for yourself.
Loose Boundaries Lead to Emotional Drain
When boundaries are loose, you may easily take on the emotions and needs of others. There is a little sense of a separate self and you may experience difficulty identifying your own emotions and needs. People with loose boundaries often are hypersensitive to others’ comments and criticisms.
Common signs of loose boundaries include overinvolvement in others’ lives; perfectionism and people pleasing; trying to fix and control others with judgments and advice; staying in unhealthy relationships; taking on too much work or too many commitments; and avoiding being alone too much. When your boundaries are too loose you can feel responsible for everything and everyone, powerless, imposed upon, and resentful.
Unconsciously, loose boundaries may represent your own need for caretaking. Ultimately, however, they disconnect you from yourself as you’re not connected with your own emotions and needs. The disconnection can lead to compulsive behaviors such as overeating and working too much.
Rigid Boundaries Lead to Loneliness
For some people, too much closeness is anxiety-provoking. Intimacy may be frightening due to fears of being suffocated and the loss of independence. Some may also avoid connection with themselves due to a harsh internal critic. Feelings of emptiness and depression may be present, along with difficulty giving and receiving care and concern.