Every relationship has expectations, rules, and practices. Each person plays a part and depicts a role in that relationship. Ideally, when we accept these roles, rules, expectations, we agree with the nature of that relationship as it should be. What does this mean?
For example, culturally, we inform children that they can treat their aunt just as their mother ("maasi is like your mom"). A child gets confused and allows this relationship with his or her aunt to hold the same set of rules, expectations, and behaviour that s/he would exchange with the mother. Here we are teaching an individual to let loose of their healthy boundaries.
What does a healthy boundary teach in a relationship?
It isn’t incorrect or impolite for a young adult to expect their parents to knock at the room door before entering. It is respecting the private space of the individual and setting an example to do the right thing. Culturally, the extreme form of care nurtured in people may not come across as concerning, however, perceived as an intrusion.
Healthy boundaries sound like :
- I value your opinion, but for now, I need you to listen. I do not want suggestions.
- I understand you feel safe to share your emotions with me, but today I don’t think I could comfort you.
- Please don’t remark about my clothes, I don’t appreciate it.
- I am with my family, could we talk later.
- Please consult with me before inviting people over
- I’m working, could you please ask me next time before beginning a discussion
- Please ask, don’t assume for me
Healthy boundaries exist to allow both people in any relationship to put forth their expectations in an appropriate way where both are respected. It gives one of the people in that relationship less guilt when being assertive and not letting anyone violate their privacy.
Boundaries are necessary with parents, parents-in-law, partners, children, friends, and colleagues. It allows an equal exchange of energy, and it is not rude or disrespectful. It might not align with the cultural norms. So maybe let’s reflect, and begin the journey to unlearn and relearn!
P.S - the use of “I” allows one to take responsibility for oneself. Remember, people will address self-care as selfishness unintentionally breaking into your space.
Boundaries are protecting safety nets, not inappropriate barriers. They allow freedom!