Achieving Healthy Boundaries

by | Jul 30, 2023 | Blog


You have to love and respect yourself enough to not let people use and abuse you. You have to set boundaries and keep them, let people clearly know how you won’t tolerate to be treated, and let them know how you expect to be treated.” 

– Jeanette Coron

As a therapist, it is such a joy seeing people make the shift towards achieving healthy boundaries. Just like a compass guides us through uncharted territories, personal boundaries help us navigate the intricacies of relationships and safeguard our emotional well-being. Understanding the  various types of personal boundaries, including healthy, porous, and rigid boundaries will empower you to create fulfilling connections with others while maintaining a sense of self-respect and autonomy. Achieving healthy boundaries is goal available to each and every one of us.

Types of Personal Boundaries 

  • Physical Boundaries. Physical boundaries refer to the physical space and touch limits that individuals establish for themselves. Everyone has a unique comfort zone, and respecting others’ personal space is crucial in building healthy relationships. Physical boundaries might vary among cultures and individuals, so it’s essential to be mindful and respectful of others’ boundaries.
  • Emotional Boundaries. Emotional boundaries involve protecting our emotions and inner selves. It’s about recognising and valuing our feelings and choosing when and with whom to share them. Having emotional boundaries enables us to maintain a sense of emotional independence while still being empathetic and supportive of others.
  • Intellectual Boundaries. Intellectual boundaries relate to our thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. It’s about respecting differing opinions and not imposing our views on others. Having healthy intellectual boundaries allows for open and constructive discussions without feeling threatened or attacked.
  • Material Boundaries. Material boundaries are related to possessions and property. Setting appropriate material boundaries involves being clear about what is and isn’t okay when it comes to sharing, borrowing, or using belongings.
  • Sexual Boundaries. These refers to emotional, intellectual and physical aspects of sexuality. Healthy sexual boundaries involve mutual understanding and respect of limitations and desires between sexual partners. Sexual boundaries can be violated with unwanted sexual touch, pressure to engage in sexual acts, or sexual comments.
  • Time Boundaries. Time boundaries involve managing and prioritising our time effectively. This means setting aside time for ourselves, work, relationships, and leisure. Respecting time boundaries fosters balance and reduces feelings of overwhelm.

Healthy, Porous, or Rigid Boundaries?

Healthy Boundaries.

Healthy boundaries are like the sweet spot between being too open and too closed-off. As such, People with healthy boundaries respect their own needs and rights while also being considerate of others. They are assertive, communicate clearly, and establish appropriate limits. Therefore, with healthy boundaries, you can form meaningful and fulfilling relationships while maintaining a sense of individuality and self-respect.

Characteristics of Healthy Boundaries.

  • The ability to say “no” without feeling guilty or overwhelmed.
  • Respecting personal space and privacy for yourself and others.
  • Being open to sharing emotions and thoughts, but at a comfortable pace.
  • Communicating your needs and limits effectively.
  • Valuing your self-worth and not relying solely on others for validation.

Porous Boundaries.

Porosity refers to the degree of flexibility in your boundaries. With porous boundaries, people may have a tendency to overshare personal information, lack assertiveness, and find it challenging to say “no” to others. They might feel responsible for other people’s emotions and have difficulty establishing emotional distance, leading to potential codependent behaviours.

Characteristics of Porous Boundaries.

  • Difficulty saying “no” and setting limits on demands from others.
  • Oversharing personal information with acquaintances or strangers.
  • Feeling responsible for other people’s emotions or actions.
  • Becoming easily influenced or manipulated by others.
  • Experiencing emotional exhaustion due to excessive emotional investment in others.

Rigid Boundaries.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, rigid boundaries are characterised by being overly closed-off and emotionally distant. People with rigid boundaries may struggle to trust others and find it challenging to form meaningful connections. They may appear emotionally distant or unapproachable, and their reluctance to open up might lead to isolation and loneliness.

Characteristics of Rigid Boundaries.

  • Avoiding emotional intimacy and vulnerability in relationships.
  • Struggling to trust others or fear of being hurt in relationships.
  • Reacting defensively or aggressively when someone attempts to breach their boundaries.
  • Difficulty in expressing emotions or being empathetic towards others.
  • Preferring emotional distance even in close relationships.

Personal boundaries serve as the compass of healthy relationships and emotional well-being. Therefore, by understanding the different types of boundaries and recognising the characteristics of healthy, porous, and rigid boundaries, we can develop stronger connections with others while maintaining a sense of self-respect and autonomy. Achieving healthy boundaries is a life skill available to us all.

 Remember, setting and maintaining boundaries is a skill that can be learned and practiced, leading to more fulfilling and balanced relationships in our lives.

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