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Blurred Boundaries

What ever happened to people respecting boundaries? We live in a world where boundaries are frequently blurred, ignored, and/or violated. Social media is a prime place for people to step on others' toes and disregard others' integrity and character. And since our internet presence can be anonymous or protected we may be inclined to share things we wouldn't normally say in a face-to-face conversation. Among the four types of boundaries (physical, emotional, mental, and relational), the most common type crossed is emotional. In a healthy relationship, the parties respect and adhere to each other's boundaries. In unhealthy relationships, one person is often the boundary violator while the other has a difficult time setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. The violator or bully consistently oversteps or ignores the boundaries set by their partner, justifying their actions by asserting that the other person wasn't clear or secure in their boundary. On the other hand, the people pleaser has a difficult time saying no and doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings so they allow behavior that clearly violates their boundaries. We often allow others to speak in disrespectful ways without any regard for its appropriateness.

Have we lost our ability to filter our comments or think before speaking? We've taken our freedom of speech to unadulterated levels in all aspects of life. When we say and do things that push limits and press against boundaries, we're left with anger, fear, and conflict which creates higher levels of stress. In the past we were ruled by social norms and political correctness that maybe went to the extreme. But today the pendulum has swung completely to the opposite end of the spectrum. Our society allows our politicians, media, and others in positions of power to speak freely and sometimes inappropriately with total disregard for the ways it might offend others. People violate our boundaries everyday through words and actions. We are assaulted with spam emails, robocalls, unsolicited messages, and privacy breaches. So how do we set better boundaries and avoid getting consumed by these violations?

When possible, block unsolicited and aggressive parties from your social media sites, email, and phone. We can also confront violators if we feel this will deter their efforts, but sometimes ignoring them proves to be a better tact. We can spend less time on social media or completely shut it down for a period of time. If you find yourself getting so worked up over someone's post that you feel compelled to respond, depending on the relationship, it might be best to talk to the person directly via phone or in person since texting or posting can be easily misinterpreted. We can demonstrate respect and consideration with others in an effort to model healthy boundaries and reinforce appropriate interactions. And we can enforce our own boundaries by speaking up when someone ignores them. The golden rule is one to live by; treat others the way you want them to treat you. Let's all make an effort to engage in constructive and positive interactions and let's decide not to contribute to the negative, angry, and cynical mood of our society. Choose to lift others up rather than tear them down.

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