Boundary issues can be “psychic”, in terms of having our energy invaded; physical, in terms of having our body or our space invaded; or emotional, as in being manipulated through guilt or fear. Weak personal boundaries are often caused by childhood abuse, or by situations in which the child is trained to believe it’s their responsibility to take care of everyone else. Culturally, girls are more subject to these kinds of situations, which is why more women more often tend to have boundary issues than men — or at least to be the ones on the receiving end of the invasion.
When I work with individuals on boundary problems, one of the first things I look into is whether the person can even say the word “no” with some degree of emphasis. I’ve had clients who were raised in Eastern cultures who were so subservient in nature that they were unable to say “no” above a whisper. I sometimes have people do an exercise at home where they walk around the house by themselves, and point to things, and say “no”, or “I don’t like that” out loud, just to get some vocabulary into their system!
There are many aspects to developing good, healthy boundaries, and it’s an individual process. But I’ve recently put together a guided imagery program that covers much of this. The program helps us consider what needs to change, how to begin making changes, and find the inner strength and support necessary to make the changes. It’s not easy changing a pattern that’s dominated one’s personality for years.
On the page of this site about Areas We Cover are seven questions to help you determine if you are “boundary impaired”. Check it out, if you feel so inclined.