Types of Boundaries: Secrets To Protect Your Space

A photo of a cross-country ski trail near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. A big wide open space, which we sometimes need when learning types of boundaries and secrets to protecting personal space.
Wide Open Space Skiing near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Copyright © 2022 Lee Spirit

This past week, I have been venturing out more to join some in-person, indoor yoga classes. I realized quickly that my comfort-level isn’t the greatest yet being around unmasked people in a tiny, unventilated room! My personal bubble is currently sitting at around 2 to 4-metres! In one of my classes, there was this big, wide-open space in the middle of the floor, but a woman decided to come and put her mat within half a metre of mine! This triggered a bit of an internal response in me to the tune of, “WTF!?!?” This brought up the concept of “boundaries” – How do you communicate what your boundaries are to others in a kind way? Let’s take a look at the types of boundaries we can set for ourselves. After all, protecting your personal space is a big deal!

I chose this photo of my ski this weekend to an area near Lake Louise, Alberta, because of all the beautiful, wide-open space here. Whenever you feel like someone has violated one of your personal boundaries, it’s great to ground and reconnect with nature in these wide-open spaces! It will give you a huge feeling of, “Aaahhhh!” instead of “WTF!?”

Types of Boundaries That Might Get Violated

Personal/Physical Space Boundary

In my yoga class example, above, the boundary that was violated was a personal/physical space boundary. This studio does mention that they are still maintaining 2-metres distance between each mat, but this woman clearly didn’t know about that, and put her mat right beside mine.

Was it up to me to communicate my boundary to her, by picking up my mat and moving into the wide open space? Perhaps I should have said something to her? Or was it up to the yoga instructor to ask people to spread out as per their Covid policy? None of this happened, and I kind of festered about it all week, as well as being sure to laugh at my own absurdity about having a 4-metre wide personal bubble! Not to mention, I realized she may need community and connection even more than I do, and I could have kindly smiled and said hello!

Another related boundary I have is allowing people into my physical space, and for how long. I see my home as a quiet sanctuary. So rather than having visitors, I prefer going out to socialize. If people do come over, I don’t like it to be for extended times or days. It’s just a personal preference, as I know many others love to have company in their space to make it feel warm and welcome.

Boundary For Sharing Feelings, Thoughts, Actions

Even though I may be a bit closed off in personal/physical space boundaries, I tend to share my thoughts, feelings, and what I’m doing quite openly with various friends. But you may be someone who doesn’t like to share thoughts, feelings, and what you’re up to. You may be selective about who you share these things with. Maybe it makes you feel vulnerable to share too much.

Also, if you’re job requires you to interact on a certain level with people on the daily, or if you have many friends, you may want to conserve your energy for certain people. This may mean keeping tighter-lipped about your thoughts, emotions, and actions.

We want to come into a place of healthy sharing, and healthy vulnerability, so as not to overwhelm ourselves and others. So you may be more protective of your sharing bubble. If you’ve been hurt before by sharing too much, this is also a reason some walls may shoot up around you.

Types of Boundaries: Time and Energy

Related to the energy of sharing thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions is having a boundary for your time and energy. If someone is constantly approaching you for help when you have too much on your plate and can’t accommodate everyone, you may have to shut down your availability.

For instance, you may need to set a time for answering emails, texts, and personal messages if you’re not getting enough done.

You may feel overwhelmed with your responsibilities with kids or work, and you just don’t have energy for others. So you have to ask them not to call after a certain hour, or maybe you leave a party at a certain time.

Sexual Boundaries

When you’re dating or even while you’re in a long-term relationship, you will need to set and communicate healthy boundaries so lines are not crossed sexually. If you’re not comfortable with something, you have to say so, or your partner will not understand, and may keep pressing your boundaries. This may make you feel violated, or even abused.

Asserting yourself in this area is extremely important for your well-being, and the well-being of the other. Rather than pushing the other away, respectfully communicate so you can come closer together. In this way, you can know your boundaries are respected.

Types of Boundaries: Why Set Them?

Feel Better About Yourself

I’ve mentioned a few reasons you may want to set healthy boundaries, above. But you may also want to consider that setting and communicating healthy boundaries will also help you feel better about yourself. In turn, it may improve your relationships with others.

If you hold something inside of you because of your fear or rejection, it just boils and bubbles inside of you until one day things burst wide open. This can lead to a negative reaction rather than a response. Fight or flight. It may ruin a relationship, and make you run away from something that could have been easily resolved though proper communication. One person may feel controlled or manipulated.

Healthy communication will put your mind and heart at ease. You will feel so much better about who you are, and what you’re here to do. You may find yourself getting even closer to others because of this mutual respect you have for each other.

Create A Bigger Energy Reserve For Yourself

When your batteries need recharging, it’s because you have too much stimulation in your life. Too many people are asking things of you, and you have too many responsibilities to take care of. When you’re running low on energy, it’s time to set some boundaries in your relationships so you don’t feel overly taxed. When you do this, you’ll find new energy stores you never even knew you had. Who doesn’t want an abundance of energy?

How To Create Boundaries

It may seem like a lot of work to set and communicate our types of boundaries. For the benefits you will receive, it is worth it! Saying no can be tricky when you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. You may also see yourself as a benevolent being, kind to all, and not wanting to upset the applecart. This can turn you into a “people-pleaser” really fast.

The problem with people-pleasing is that while it settles things temporarily on the outside, there’s a continual internal struggle. This is because you’re letting someone else’s needs override your own. Eventually you may explode or have to distance yourself from the situation.

Being Assertive About Your Needs

Being assertive about your needs is different than being aggressive. Assertive communication does not make the other feel threatened and shouldn’t feel harsh.

For instance, instead of getting up with an exasperated sigh and evil glare with my yoga mat and moving to the empty space in the room, I could choose instead to say: “Hi, I feel a little uncomfortable still having our mats closer than 2-metres apart when we’re unmasked – Would you mind moving a bit further away? Or I can move?” This is a little less aggressive than huffing and puffing and making someone feel bad about where they decided to put their mat.

Part of being assertive is learning how and when to just say “No”. For more on this, I encourage you to read this great article on People Pleasing and How To Set Healthy Boundaries. This will give you some ways to say no, be assertive, and set boundaries.

Schedule Time For Yourself

As mentioned previously, it’s important to make time for ourselves, and there’s no need to feel selfish or guilty for taking care of our own needs. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to schedule time for you where you can be alone, or doing what you love. Time in nature is one of the best ways to recharge your batteries. Turn off your phone for extended periods, and don’t check social media if it’s sucking your time and energy.

Try my free meditation on Releasing Emotional Pressure. If we don’t set and communicate boundaries, things start to really build up inside like a pressure cooker! This will help!

Detect and Be Sensitive To Others’ Boundaries

When looking at types of boundaries that we all have, it’s good to keep in mind whether or not you are respecting others’ boundaries. Not everyone communicates or wants to communicate their boundaries to make them clear. It can be tricky to navigate through what another person’s boundaries may be. So it’s good to develop the skill of “spidey-senses”, or just paying attention to social cues that someone wants you to back off.

I have a colleague at work who likes to step right into my personal bubble to speak up close in my face. I can’t help but move my chair backwards whenever she approaches or gets too close. It feels rude, but it’s a way of communicating to her that she’s in my personal space, and I’m not comfortable being so close!

Another way to know you may be violating someone’s personal time, space, or comfort level is to notice when someone gives limited information about themselves, even when you are open to sharing. You may not understand why they are so closed off, but it’s at least a cue that they don’t feel comfortable sharing things about themselves for whatever reason.

If you can’t tell by someone’s body language, gestures, or lack of sharing, you may just want to simply ask them. Ask if they’re okay with a hug, a ride-share, an indoor event, or how many people they’re comfortable gathering with. Maybe you just ask, “Do you mind if I ask a personal question?” It’s a direct way to find out types of boundaries for different people and situations.

Secrets To Protecting Your Space

Hopefully by now you have a good idea about how to protect your space and to set and communicate healthy boundaries with yourself and others. This will surely improve your relationships, and give you satisfaction by having time, energy, and respect for yourself and others.

Lee Spirit is an avid outdoors adventurer with a love for nature, photography, health & fitness, wellness, and spirituality. She helps those who suffer from anxiety & negative thinking to become healthier in mind-body-spirit. Her own personal journey has led her to the  study and practice of mindfulness, health, wellness, yoga, spirituality, sound healing, meditation, and personal development for over 20 years. Get mindfulness, meditation, and personal development tips in her Free Natural Mind Healing Report.

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