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  • Writer's pictureStacy Taylor, LCSW

Maintaining Healthy Boundaries

These days we live in almost boundary-less world, so it’s hard to maintain personal boundaries. Before the Internet, when we left work, there was almost no way for coworkers to locate us. Now, our bosses and colleagues can find us through instant messaging or text or email. Facebook lets us know the regular whereabouts of our close friends, and Linked In announces to the world where we work. People can upload all kinds of personal information on videos via Youtube.

While this boundary-less world can enhance our lives, there are some possible drawbacks. As the expression goes, we can learn “too much information” about others, as well as offer too much information in return. We’ve all heard stories about people being turned down for jobs after prospective employers see too much wild behavior displayed on public Facebook accounts.

Some people have boundaries that are too permeable and loose. At the other extreme, there are those whose boundaries are overly strict and rigid. The latter group may have trouble being close to others, which can lead to loneliness and isolation.

And yet, appropriate boundaries are necessary for satisfying and healthy relationships. It is one way that we feel safe with people. Boundaries help us know where the other person ends and where we begin. While good boundaries make us feel protected and comfortable, lack of boundaries can make us feel vulnerable and powerless.

So what are some characteristics of healthy boundaries? Here are a few:

–Not over sharing information or under sharing.

–Being able to set limits with people who reveal too much personal information, and make us feel uncomfortable. Setting limits can range from saying something to the person to limiting our contact with him/her.

–Being able to intuit when we sense someone violating our personal boundaries.

–Keeping confidential information truly private.

–Having friends who will also keep our confidential information private.

–Not trusting others, even close friends or family, and keeping our world too private.

You may want to observe the state of your own boundaries. Are they too weak? Are they overly rigid? Do you feel comfortable setting limits when you need to? And are you willing to share parts of yourself with loved ones?

If you want to make some changes, perhaps start with someone with whom you feel comfortable, such as a trusted friend or family member. Perhaps you can tell the person that you are working on setting better boundaries, and enlist his or her help. With more awareness, you can begin to have more appropriate boundaries with the people (and the social media) in your life.

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