What are Boundaries?

By Christina Herron, MS

Barrier to Everything by Andrew Stawarz
Flickr [Barrier to Everything by Andrew Stawarz, November 4, 2007, CC BY-ND 2.0]
Boundaries are present throughout our everyday life. Property boundaries. Speed limit and traffic boundaries. Social status boundaries. Boundaries for our indulgences. Legal boundaries. Cultural boundaries. Financial Boundaries. Ethical boundaries. But…

How do we set healthy boundaries in our personal life?

Jonice Webb, PhD, a clinical psychologist, illustrates what the 4 types of essential boundaries are and how to use them to strengthen and create healthy boundaries in your personal life in her blog series titled, “Childhood Emotional Neglect with Jonice Webb, Ph.D.”

So what are the 4 types of essential boundaries?

Dr. Webb states the 4 types of boundaries are:

    • Physical Boundaries – This boundary tells you when to set limits and when to protect yourself, by making you feel comfortable.
    • External Boundaries – It serves as a filter that protects you from insults and injuries that come from the outside.
    • Internal Boundaries –This is the boundary which protects you (and others) from yourself.
    • Temporal Boundaries – Your temporal boundary senses when you are dwelling too much on our past experiences. It senses when you have gone too far back or forward, and pulls you back.
How to we build our boundaries?

6 Step Boundary Building Exercise, by Dr. Webb:

  1. Close your eyes, and count to ten in your head, while breathing deeply and calmly.
  2. Imagine yourself surrounded by a circle. You are in the exact center, surrounded by the exact amount of space that you feel most comfortable with.
  3. Turn the circle into a visible wall. That wall can be made out of anything you like: clear or opaque plastic, bricks, smooth cement or something else. It can be anything you want, as long as it’s strong.
  4. Although the wall is strong, you and only you have the power to flex it when you want. You can remove a brick or soften the plastic to allow things inside the wall or out of the wall whenever you need to. You hold the power. You are safe.
  5. Stay inside the wall for a minute. Enjoy the feeling of being in control of your world.
  6. Repeat this exercise once-a-day.

You can find further information in Dr. Webb’s blog series, Childhood Emotional Neglect with Jonice Webb, Ph.D., posted on Psychcentral.com, here.  

This post was written by Christina Herron, MS, a member of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on TwitterYouTube, and on LinkedIn.

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