Wanna Teach People How To Treat You Better, Jane? Try Boundaries.
Updated: Mar 17, 2020
How Knowing Your Personal Boundary Style Can Help Mend or Invite Healthier Relationships.
Do you have a hard time saying “no” to people in your life?
What about staying in relationships long past their expiration date?
Maybe you’re scared to tell certain people in your life how the way they speak to or treat you makes you feel?
Ever heard that saying “You gotta teach someone how to treat you”? Well it’s true!
Personal boundaries are limits and rules we set for ourselves in relationships. A person with healthy boundaries can say “no” to others, yet are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships.
But what if they aren’t healthy? What if you identify with the questions above? It’s likely that those reading this have experienced some form of trauma in their lifetime and as a way of managing and coping with said trauma(s), you’ve picked up some not so healthy personal boundary techniques along the way to cope. We get it. Arming ourselves with this information is necessary to change it, though.
Different Types of Personal Boundary Styles
A person who avoids intimacy is said to have rigid personal boundaries, while the over-sharers of the Universe fall into the category of having a porous personal boundary style. Someone with healthy personal boundaries likely has healthy relationships and a strong belief in their values.
Avoids close relationships and intimacy for fear of rejection
Unlikely to ask for help
May seem detached, even to romantic partners
Extremely protective over private information
Difficulty saying no
Over-involved in others problems
Accepting of abuse, disrespect
Dependent on the opinions of others
Knows personal wants and needs and can communicate them
Doesn’t compromise values for others & values own opinion
Shares information in an appropriate manner, neither “under” or “over” sharing.
Accepting when others say “no” to them
While some of us may resonate with one so much so that we cringed while reading the above lists, many people rely on a mix of personal boundary styles and will choose which to employ depending on the given circumstances. For example, someone may have healthy boundaries at work, porous in their romantic relationship, and move between the three in their relating with family members. While the setting and specific relationship type vary and influence our chosen boundaries, other factors can influence our personal boundary style in relationships. The setting and social dynamics (power, racial, cultural, socio-economic, gendered) will also influence which personal boundary style one might use in a given situation and should not be glanced over with a minimum of concern.
Not commonly listed: trauma. We believe that trauma can certainly affect how we interact with those in our lives and that if we challenge ourselves to confront said truth with grace and rigorous honesty, we’ve positioned ourselves in the best posture for healing! It just feels scary.
Trauma and Personal Boundary Styles
For those of us living with PTSD, or any trauma-related condition, learning to set healthy personal boundaries is both critical and extremely difficult. Plagued by feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness for trauma survivors setting boundaries can feel like the end of the world. Literally.
For this reason, it’s imperative that trauma survivors first educate themselves on trauma.
What is it?
Do I have it?
What do I do next?
One thing about trauma that we must understand is that it can come in ALL sizes.
"Small to gigantic, trauma is very personal and can be almost anything that negatively impacts us in a deep way." Bri Smith
Licensed Mental Health professional, Judy Crane, poignantly describes trauma as “visceral, Sensory, cellular.”
"It’s a Soul Wound that impacts the very core of who we are, what we believe about the world and our place in it. We experience trauma with all of our senses; taste, touch, sound, sight, smell and our 6th sense, intuition."
Still wondering if you have trauma? Check out this article on Jane’s Journal about the differences between “little t” and “Big T” trauma to help you decide.