Do you know what boundaries are? We’re not talking literal, actual, physical boundaries, such as those where one house ends and another begins. It’s psychological and behavioural boundaries that more and more people are addressing, carefully assessing themselves to see where improvement is needed. It can hurt and unsettle us when our boundaries are violated or disrespected, either by friends, family, colleagues or strangers. For healthy relationships, we need to build boundaries and also acknowledge other people’s. A male masseur in London will instinctively know where your boundaries are, but other people may be careless. That’s why it pays not only to know where your limits are, but to state them when necessary. If you’ve ever gone along with something that didn’t feel right because you were overpowered by a domineering personality, then your boundaries have been violated. It doesn’t have to happen again and the sense of integrity and identity you get from improving your boundaries is a real gift.
To begin learning about boundaries, have a good think about what you can tolerate and put up with and what is too much for you and leaves you stressed or in discomfort. Do you find you often go through the latter without saying anything? If so, it’s important to realise that not everyone can sense where you boundaries are and it’s ok to tell them when the moment arises.
Know, too, that it’s perfectly all right to be direct. In fact, it will be easier for people to understand your boundaries, the more plainly you state them. If, out of anxiety about what others will think, you state your boundaries in a circuitous and roundabout way, it will be harder to communicate them. Clear-cut dialogue is the way to go. Self-care, assertiveness, self-awareness, and support are all important parts of boundary building. Good luck – and remember that your male masseur in London may well be a fount of good advice.