During my childhood, some years ago, I really liked to play with my sisters. By the way, I have two sisters. When we played together I noticed that it was different with each one, not just the type of game we played but also the distance (physical distance) between the both of us, we had some limits. Surprisingly I became aware that “B” mi older sister didn’t adore to be hugged or to play near each other. My youngest sister “J” liked it a little bit more. At first I got angry when they moved away from me because I thought that I was doing something wrong or that they didn’t enjoy playing with me.
Afterwards I started to observe how they related with others. When they played together they also had a distance between them, “B” didn’t touch as much as “J” or myself. Also with my parents we acted differently. At first I couldn’t understand why my sisters didn’t like to be near each other, giving hugs or having physical contact.
Some years later, when I was at college, I began to analyse the situation once again. I comprehended that their actions had nothing to do with their love for me, or if they liked or not the activity we were doing. It was related with personal boundaries (limits).
You may be thinking, what are these personal boundaries? I asked myself the same question.
What happens to me is what occurs to most parents that bring their child to therapy, we think that limits (boundaries) are punishments and that they are linked with controlling the other one. But we are missing a very important part we don’t have the knowledge of.
What are limits for you? How would you describe them?
Some professions like Coaching say that limits are situations or thoughts that limit our selves to do an action. They describe them as personal and mental limits and limiting believes. In the educational and parenthood sector they are connected with permissiveness or authority. People tell some parents “your child doesn’t have well established limits”, “you are very permissive with your child” or “your child make a lot of tantrums“. We’ll stay just with these descriptions, but we can find a lot more.
I want to share with you today the part we are missing. The other day talking with a mother, we mentioned limits and the importance they have. I was telling her that limits are not just punishments for children, but they also teach them responsibilities, respect to others and to themselves, knowledge about learning until where they can get to, not just physical but emotional and psychological. They also teach values. They help us to be conscious that the limit starts where I end (physically) and the other one begins.
Limits or boundaries are the space we need for feeling comfortable and calm. Personal space can’t be touched but it can be felt. It’s the border that determines myself. It is what happened with my sisters. “B” needed a wider space; her limits within the other ones are more spacious than “J’s” or mines. It’s not a physical border. It’s something intangible. Everybody feels it but sometimes we are not conscious of it. We break our own limit so other will like us. This provokes sensations in our body creating feelings that we can’t comprehend or we just ignore.
How can we detect our “spatial” limit?
- Feel comfortable with others. The first thing that needs to occur is that you feel comfortable with the other person. You can be talking and your body is calm. If you observe that this is not happening, move around physically until you find the distance needed for being tranquil.
- Observe your body. Many times we ignore the signals our body send us. Your body is very wise and it’s going to tell you when something is bothering you. Detecting sensations inside us during those moments will help you to be aware of what you need.
- Detect your necessities. Previous step swill help you not just to start detecting what happens in your body but also the necessities you have to fulfil. Remember a necessity it’s not a desire.
- Trust in yourself. Do not doubt in what you are feeling or that you’re doing it wrong. Many times we can feel being disrespectful towards others or we may think that what we feel is not real. This can happen because of your own demand for pleasing others. If you succeed on the previous steps it’s important that you can carry out this step. Because without it all the work you have done will not function.
If you listen to your inside, you can teach your children to do it by their own. Let’s remember that limits or boundaries are necessary for everybody. They help us build our own identity and to create healthy relationships with others.