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Boundaries

Boundaries are physical, mental, psychological and spiritual in nature. They define who you are as a person, as well as outline your preferences and determine your proximity to others. They are often learned, tend to be culturally determined, and include rules and guidelines regarding what an individual defines as acceptable and permissible in social interactions. Boundaries tend to be constructed out of past experiences, personal beliefs, opinions, and attitudes. They demarcate where you end and where another person begins.

It is important to view boundaries as existing along a continuum, from enmeshed (too close) or disengaged (too rigid, too far apart). It is also essential to understand that boundaries play a critical role in how we interact with other; consequently, both extremes prove unhealthy and problematic. In fact, many issues in close relationships arise from poor boundary construction. Some couples may have no sense of separateness or sense of self (enmeshed), whereas others may maintain a strict, unaccommodating stance towards one another (disengaged). When partners have varied boundary types, these differences can be misinterpreted and lead to significant conflict.

These suggested readings help highlight the boundary possibilities that exit between the two extremes. They can assist in helping you to identify your personal boundary system, their origins, and specific suggestions on how to best assert your personal needs and preferences. The books also can help create awareness of others’ boundaries, acknowledging opportunities to accommodate their needs, and strategies to find a healthy balance between both individuals’ preferences and wishes.