The first article of this three-part series highlighted the importance of personal boundaries. The second article covered the steps to protecting them. In this final article, I'll outline ways for you to identify whether or not you are a boundary violator.
You may have the urge to stop reading right about now because you believe you have excellent boundaries. Resist the urge.
Why? There is a dissonance between reality and beliefs regarding boundaries. Many people assume that everyone's boundaries would be or should be similar to their own. That can be a mistake. People are unique, therefore so are their limits.
Boundary violations can happen even when someone has the best of intentions. For instance, Jane is visiting her sister Ellen for the holidays. Jane wants to be helpful and offers to do the laundry while Ellen runs a few errands. Ellen hates it when other people do her wash and suggests doing dishes instead. When Ellen returns she finds Jane sitting around the kitchen table with the rest of the family folding Ellen's stained underwear. Jane says, "No need to thank me, I just wanted to help!" Jane is a boundary violator.
It may be difficult to identify whether or not you accidently violate someone's boundaries. Read through the following list and if you answer "yes" even once you still could be an accidental boundary violator:
- You feel your intentions are misunderstood or that others are just too sensitive.
- You often wonder, "What's the big deal?"
- You often know what's right for someone even if he or she can't see it.
- You sense you make people feel uncomfortable and don't know why.
- You feel if you don't push you won't get your needs met or someone will disappear from your life.
- You see outdebating someone as entertaining.
- You often feel victorious when convincing someone to do something that you wanted such as having the holiday party so you don't have to, volunteering for a fund raiser, or organizing the annual pot luck dinner.
- You are an open book about sex, money, and just about everything else and don't understand why others are so closed off.
- You think social hugging and kissing are not only acceptable, but required.
- You feel your beliefs are important and should be equally important to everyone else.
- You offer your opinion or advice without being asked for it. (It is still a violation if you start with "No offense." Or, "I know you didn't ask." Or, "I hope you don't mind me saying....")
- You feel so at home that you'll
- eat from someone's plate without asking
- look in someone's closet or drawer without permission or without a particular reason other than curiosity
- go through someone's mail or email.
Although you may have good intentions and don't quite get what the big deal is - remember, it is a big deal to someone else. My advice? Be mindful of the subtle clues people give, listen when people talk, and take no for an answer.