Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person can create that that teach us acceptable and unacceptable behavior.  

It’s important to set boundaries in order to communicate what you will and will not tolerate from a person or a relationship. It’s a way of setting limits in a way that is healthy and allows you to practice self-care and self-respect.

The types of boundaries I will discuss are physical, emotional and intellectual.

Physical boundaries provide a barrier between you and an intruding force, like plastic gloves protect your hands from germs.  Physical boundaries include your body, sense of personal space, and privacy. An example of physical boundary violation would be a person who gets very close to you when they talk. An immediate response would be to step back to regain your personal space. By doing this you would be sending a non-verbal message that the person invaded your personal space. If the person continued to move closer, you might protect your space by telling him or her to stop crowding you. Other examples of physical boundary violation would be inappropriate touching, looking through someone’s person mail or reading someone’s journal. There are only a few examples of personal boundary violation.

Emotional and Intellectual boundaries protect you sense of self-esteem and ability to separate your feelings from others. When you have weak emotional boundaries, you expose yourself to being affected by others words, thoughts and actions and end up feeling wounded or bruised. Examples of emotional boundary violation would be sacrificing your plans and goals in order to please others; blaming others for your problems instead of accepting your responsibility; verbal abuse; assuming other know what you feel.

Healthy boundaries allow you to protect physical and emotional space from intrusion, separate your needs, thoughts and feelings from others; and empower yourself to make healthy choices.

If you or someone you know is having issues with boundaries and needs help please contact the Youth Crisis Center Hopeline at 1-877-720-0007 or 904-720-0002.


Adapted by the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center from, and Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine.