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Having Boundaries For Other People

November 19, 2013

Many people are oblivious of the existence of boundaries, either their own or other people’s, but you can develop this awareness. The first step is to develop an awareness of your own boundaries, so that you can maintain them. The next step is to develop an awareness of other people’s established boundaries, so that you can respect them. The third step is to develop an awareness of other people’s unestablished boundaries, so that you can observe them.

People who are unaware of their own boundaries often have the experience of having other people transgress them, then wonder why they feel violated, hurt, frightened, or angry. This is why having an awareness of other people’s boundaries is important; it keeps you from becoming an unwitting violator. Just because someone doesn’t recognize or maintain their own boundaries doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. As your awareness develops it can extend from self-protection to other-protection, keeping you aware of where other people’s boundaries are, even if they don’t clearly establish them themselves.

Awareness is the key, because imagining where other people’s boundaries are can keep you restrictively confined, and circumvents doing the actual work of paying attention. If you’re just “playing it safe” and trying not to offend anyone, it’s guaranteed that you’re missing out on many opportunities for connection. It’s only by actually being aware of where other people’s unspoken boundaries lie that you can bridge the gaps that keep us insulated and isolated from others.

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