The Seven Types of Boundaries
By Lori Radun
The call came at 8:10 in the morning. "Mom, I forgot my baseball stuff in the car. Can you please bring it to me now?" My teenager had spent the night with his friend and inadvertently forgot to prepare himself for the baseball summer camp he was helping with in the morning. His baseball glove, shoes, and camp T-shirt were left at home and camp started in five minutes. Initially, I was irritated because I knew he wanted me to drop everything I was doing and bail him out of his predicament. That irritation prompted the lecture he received about responsibility. But then I realized I had a choice, and I had power. I needed to decide what my boundaries were.
I was not going to get upset and allow him to disrupt my morning. I was not going to drop everything I was doing so he wouldn't be late for baseball camp. I would drop off his stuff because it was on my way to my other son's day camp, but I would drop it off on my time and my terms. Had I not been heading in the direction of the baseball field, I would have told my teenager no. So I took my time and finished blow drying my hair. I made my six year old his lunch, gathered our things we needed for the day, and did so in a relaxing and unrushed manner. I was not going to be stressed because my teenager would be late for camp. This story is a classic example of how we can use boundaries to decide what we experience in our lives.
Boundaries define the limits we need to set in our lives to protect what is most important to us. I look at boundaries as part of the foundation that holds our lives in place. Without boundaries, everything can, and will happen. Our lives can slowly unravel, and before we know it, our lives are nothing like what we envisioned them to be. Boundaries establish clear lines and they keep life from becoming blurry or fuzzy.
I think it can be helpful to establish boundaries in terms of minimums and/or maximums. For instance, you may have a boundary that states you will work out three times per week at a minimum. The minimum is the boundary that defines what is considered "good enough" for your life. You can also set a maximum boundary around working out. This boundary might say that you will not work out more than five times per week - you will allow two days for rest. The minimum and maximum boundaries protect you from patterns of perfectionism and procrastination. If you go below your standard, you are not honoring what is important to you. If you go above your standard, it might mean you are placing unrealistic expectations on yourself.
Boundaries are designed to protect you and the life that you want to live, and there are seven types of boundaries to consider:
- Self-Esteem Boundaries
Self-esteem boundaries protect your sense of worth. These boundaries help you feel good about you. What is the minimum you need to do to maintain self-respect? Perhaps you need to follow through on your promises, or maintain honesty in your life. What are the limits you need to set with yourself and other people to make sure your self-esteem is not compromised?
- Body Boundaries
What do you need to do to protect your body? What physical limitations might you need to recognize? What standards need to be in place for you to protect your physical health? It could be that a certain minimum amount of exercise or a maximum amount of food or drink is required. It might mean you always honor regular health and dental appointments.
- Energy Boundaries
Energy boundaries obviously protect the amount of physical and emotional energy you have to operate from. What energy drains in your life need to be eliminated or minimized? Which energy refuelers must be present to help you maintain the energy you need for your life?
- Time Boundaries
Time is a precious commodity. Without the proper time boundaries, we lose something we can never get back. What non-negotiable boundaries must be in place to protect your time? What is the maximum amount of time you will spend on a particular activity, at a specific event, or engaging in work? Time management is all about having clear boundaries.
- Space Boundaries
Our space includes any environment we spend time in. We need to protect our spaces so they nourish us and enable us to live our lives optimally. Pay attention to your needs for organization or beauty in your environments. How do you know when your housecleaning is "good enough"? What does the minimum and maximum state of your environments need to look like?
- Money Boundaries
Just like time, we need money to survive in this life. Your money boundaries protect your finances. What are the limits you need to set on spending and saving? What is the minimum salary you are willing to work for? Consumer debt, for instance, is the result of unidentified or compromised boundaries.
- Relationship Boundaries
What boundaries need to be in place to protect your relationships? Our relationships are truly our greatest gift in life. How much time do we need to spend to nurture our relationships? What limits do we need to set on our behavior in relationships? Boundaries help ensure our relationships remain healthy.
Lori Radun, CEC is a certified life coach for moms.