Do You Know Your Boundaries?

 I felt tense. It was early in the morning. I moved around on my chair to relieve my tension. The trainer gave the instructions for the next exercise. I knew I had to say ‘no.’ What would people say about me? What if I was the only one who didn’t want to do this exercise? I wasn’t sure what would happen. I just knew I had to communicate my boundaries.

Do you know your boundaries?

The day before, I had started another coaching training. We had made a new experiment to let go of a limiting belief. The instruction was: Yell as loud as you can. I don’t like yelling but I gave it a try. After that, I felt confused and full of doubt. It just didn’t feel ok to me. The instructors insisted that we would do more of it the next day. That night, I didn’t know how to handle it and meditated to find my answer. The answer was simple – just say no if you are supposed to yell again.

How can you empower yourself?

The next morning, the instructor told us the rules for the next exercise, “Yell at another participant who sits still in a chair without reacting to your words.” She looked at the group of about 40 people full of expectation and asked us, “Who will be the first one?” I did not want to do this. Yell at other people is a no go for me. Although I felt scared, I spoke up and said, “Sorry but I will not participate in this exercise. I do not want to yell at other people.” I felt relieved and thought that I was done. She looked at me disapprovingly and said, “Have you considered this thoroughly? If you don’t do it, you will never achieve the goal you have.” I didn’t like that she pressured me and I could feel how I shrank in my seat.

My inner conflict started again. My goal was important to me. I really wanted to accomplish it. My anxious part became afraid. What if the instructor is right? She felt tempted to change. I felt the eyes of the fellow participants staring at me. It would have been so easy and comfortable to say yes and fit in well into the group, but it just didn’t feel true to me. I chose to not give in to the pressure and took a risk.

I looked at the instructor and said, “No, I will not do it.” My tension released and I was relieved. I was proud of myself that I had resisted being nice and adapted. I had respected my boundaries and felt a new sense of empowerment.

Why are boundaries important?

Healthy boundaries are essential for healthy relationships. Unfortunately, many of us have never been learned as children what boundaries are and how to keep them intact. In my childhood, my boundaries have been continuously violated. As an adult, I learned to feel them and to set them in a healthy way. This has greatly improved my relationships and my sense of well-being. Boundaries are personal. They describe what is ok for you and what is not ok for you, or what you are willing to do and not willing to do. They are deeply personal, which means that my boundaries are likely to be different to your boundaries. And that’s perfectly ok. Important is that you become aware of your boundaries, explore and and respect them. Don’t allow other people to override your boundaries. Your boundaries protect yourself from emotional harm. Having healthy boundaries is an act of self-love and self-respect.

How aware are you of your boundaries?

Do you want to read more? Check out my memoir “A Brave, True Story.

Natalie Jovanic

Natalie Jovanic is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor. As a counsellor, she passes on what she believes in, but it isn’t just knowledge, theory, and professional experience. It is also her wisdom gained through her own transformational journey of healing violence and abuse.