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Boundaries: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

So what are boundaries?

Boundaries are everything. You’ll get what I mean after a few more discussions about this important topic. If you visit with a Trailtalk® therapist, you will come to understand how you do or don’t do boundaries, and how that works or doesn’t work for you.

Robert Frost once said, “Fences make the best neighbors.”

When I ask clients what that means to them, many say, “fences protect you.” In a way, they do. For example, prison fences with barbwire along the top or fortress walls will protect you, or rather keep you out. But, the average fence is more of a property identifier.

This means fences delineate my property from yours. It differentiates me from you. When we have a well-defined, functional fence line between us, we choose who and when others enter into our yards. A fence, like our personal boundaries, afford us choices.

Make sense? If not here’s another analogy.

Skin is another type of boundary. If you didn’t have skin on, your blood and guts would spill all over. Your skin defines your person. It gives you integrity, shape, form, and meaning. It affords you the freedom (choices) to get up and move around and be a human. Yes, your skin is a better example of protecting you. Yet, it protects you from infection and internal invasions, versus protecting you from other humans. Our skin, in term of relationship boundaries, is a most important tool to connect us to others, not keep them away.

Fences in good working order have an equal part of flexion and tension.

Fences need a measure of flexion in order to bend and adapt to weather changes. Flexion is necessary. Too much flexion and the fence gets flatten by heavy winds.

Fences need some tension to oppose the flexion so they don’t get flattened. Too much tension and the rigidity causes the same issue. Weather comes up against a resistant fence line and after a while the fence snaps.

Here are a few Tips from the Trail if you need some fence-mending done before the winter storms come your way:

  1. Consider how you do boundaries. Is your fence line too flexible? Is it too rigid?

  2. Notice how you interact with your loved ones and colleagues. Are you the easy going guy? Or are you known as the “my way or the highway” person? I’m not saying one is better than the other, I’m just suggesting the flexion and tension ratio in our fences significantly impact our relationships. We have to come to an awareness before we can make a change.

  3. Talk to a friend or family member about what boundaries mean to them. You might be surprised what you can learn from others when we broach these types of topics.

Hopefully this helps explain how important boundaries are and that you try a few of these tips! And reach out to a Trailtalk therapist if you want to learn more. Happy trails!

(Hey, fence builders out there: please feel free to correct me if I am wrong about how real fences work. I have never personally made a fence so your feedback is greatly appreciated!)


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