Conscious of them or not, boundaries indicate what we find acceptable and unacceptable in the behaviors and actions of others and ourselves. They are linked to our personal values and identity. And in a huge way they are linked to our integrated level of self-worth and self-respect. If we lack self-worth and self-respect, the 1 borders of our boundaries will range from weak to absent. We will compromise ourselves to please others in some way, or it can show up as various forms of self-sabotaging behaviors. With a healthy level of self-worth and self-respect, we are willing to face potential external conflict that can arise when we stand up for ourselves and for what is right — when called for. Most can feel, or in some way sense, when a boundary is crossed. It can make us feel angry, sad, frustrated, annoyed, disrespected, ashamed, betrayed, or some other negative emotion. Particularly, if someone that is close to us, such as family, friends, or a partner in some way crosses the line — we feel it, even if we are not conscious of our boundaries. We don’t need to be conscious about our personal boundaries for them to exist, but when we are unconscious about them, we don’t communicate them. That makes it very likely that these personal boundaries will be violated. I think that some boundaries should be common sense and shouldn’t need to be communicated. Like for instance verbally attacking and demeaning another person because they don’t share the same opinion about an important matter. Or crossing sexual boundaries. Or hitting a child. But common sense is not that common for everyone. For most people, emotions and mechanical behavior from negative subconscious programming is the driver of the car, while common sense is locked in the trunk. 2 Even if we are conscious about our own boundaries, some can still be subtle, and thus challenging to notice and to set. For instance, when Lisa calls her friend Erica to offload all of her drama onto Erica — without asking Erica first if she is open to listen? Erica wants to express that ‘now is not a good time,’ but might feel like an awful person for setting that boundary. Still, she chooses to set the boundary, telling Lisa, “I understand your need to vent. However, I am not mentally and emotionally available right now. I am in the middle of something myself, and I need to spend my time working things out on my end. Can I call you back tomorrow evening?” This response is honest, vulnerable, and compassionate. Still, it might trigger guilt in Erica, and it might trigger a feeling of rejection and hurt in Lisa. It depends on how mentally and emotionally mature and aware they are. What about Jennifer hosting her first Christmas? Jennifer’s mother tells her that she can help her make the Christmas dinner. Jennifer doesn’t want her mother’s help, because her mother has a tendency to invade her private space, maybe not so much to help, but more to control the situation. She wants to say no, but she’s afraid that her mother is going to feel hurt. Setting healthy boundaries starts with deciding to do so, and fully accepting that it can cause others to react with hurt, anger, fear, or some other negative emotional reaction. That’s just how it is. (We will 3 go more into this later in this course.) It takes strength and courage to follow through on our boundaries. It can be far from easy to communicate our boundaries, but it is our personal responsibility to do so. And it is good to know, that the more we do it, the more courage and inner strength is activated. We grow more self-assured and self-confident. It becomes easier with time to express ourselves and stand our ground. I honestly don’t know if it will ever become 100% comfortable to set those “hard to set boundaries”? But one thing is for sure: to develop skills and become good at anything, requires practice. So it is with the skill of setting boundaries. When you begin to define your boundaries more clearly now during this course, it is still nearly impossible not to encounter circumstances where your boundaries will get disrespected, disregarded, and challenged. Because, you cannot control others. Even if they know about your boundaries, they might still cross the line. This is where we follow up our boundary with action and consequences. We will get specifically into that later in this course.

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