Boundaries come in all shapes and sizes: continental plates, country borders, state lines, property fences, and locked doors. Then there are other, more abstract boundaries: meniscus, the plane between water and air, and penumbra, the line between light and shadow.

These boundaries are crucial in defining and regulating different aspects of our lives, including the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms. They determine the extent to which we impact and are impacted by others and shape how we interact with the world around us. But why are boundaries essential?

They are both protective and adaptive.

Boundaries serve both a protective and an adaptive function. Expressions such as “I’m not going there” or “They have crossed the line” are frequent reminders of the significance of having limits. We regulate our behaviour to coexist harmoniously in our relationships and society.

They are learned.

Childhood informs how we see and imagine dependence, independence, and co-dependence. We need to be aware of whether the boundaries we have in place are useful, mature, and relative to now – or are they leftovers from a younger/other life phase?

Our understanding of dependence, independence, and co-dependence is shaped by our childhood experiences and upbringing. The boundaries we set for ourselves are a product of these experiences and may not always suit our current life phase. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate whether our boundaries are useful and relevant to our current situation or are simply artifacts of a previous time and place.

They can change.

Boundaries are not set in stone (even if they feel that way when working with self and others). Just like how houses have doors and fences have gates, our personal boundaries have access points that can be evaluated and adjusted through trust, insight, and patience. This process allows us to define our identity, understand our limits, and create opportunities for personal growth and deeper connections with others.

In therapy, it is important for individuals and couples to define, explore, and assess their personal boundaries. This includes understanding what you expect from yourself and others, including your therapist. Knowing where to draw the line when dealing with the challenge of being an individual in a relationship with others is essential.

Building interpersonal awareness is a crucial aspect of therapy, which also involves developing a deeper understanding of boundaries. If you find the article above relevant to your situation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS THE VIEWS OF THE AUTHOR AND IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR THERAPEUTIC SUPPORT. PLEASE REACH OUT TO A REGISTERED THERAPIST IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING DISTRESS AND REQUIRE ASSISTANCE. © Reed Everingham Consulting