Boundaries

Posted on July 30, 2012
Filed under Columns & essays | 10 Comments | Email This Post

Good fences make good neighbors.” — Robert Frost

One of our neighbors is building a stone wall at the edge of his property.

Watching his progress, I’m reminded of my childhood road trips to historic New England. From the back seat of my dad’s Chevy Impala, I’d count miles and miles of curvy pastoral roads lined with rambling field stone walls.

Guarding cemeteries or defining farmland, those venerable stone borders conveyed a sense of authority — though some were barely tall enough to stop trespassers on a mission. Sections of the walls dated back to the American Revolution, when our young country was in the process of defending and defining its own boundaries.

Everyone needs boundaries. While most humans crave social connection, there are times when we all need to draw invisible lines between “us and them.” Healthy personal boundaries help protect our own space and identity. They remind others that we have a right to privacy; that we are not accessible to everyone at all times.

Women seem to have a tougher time setting limits and boundaries. Hard-wired to nurture and assist, we often answer the needs of others before our own, whether we’re caring for small children or elderly parents.

But our personal boundaries start to blur when we spend too much time meeting the needs and expectations of others. When this becomes a pattern, we must stop saying “yes” to every request for our time and attention.

Today, thanks to cell phones and the Internet, most of us are over-connected and readily available. While I consider myself a people person, I’m easily overwhelmed by the constant chatter and demands of social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and blogs — not to mention the never-ending stream of email to read and answer.

Sometimes, all it takes is a long, solo bike ride through the neighborhood to restore my equilibrium.  It also helps to declare “time out” from social media for a day or two.

Building a metaphorical fence around my time is the best way to restore my sanity when everything feels like “too much” to handle.  What about you? Do you find it hard to create or maintain your own boundaries? – Cindy La Ferle

Comments

10 Responses to “Boundaries”

  1. Lynne on July 30th, 2012 10:36 pm

    I, too, have been finding myself taking a “time out” day (or two) as well. Sometimes I just need time to be still; to think and reflect :-)

  2. Cheryl Wright on July 31st, 2012 5:38 am

    Yes I do Cindy. It’s a daily struggle I endure, babysitting my grandchildren but like you, I regain my sanity by claiming my need and my right for personal space and privacy.

    Over the years, I’ve learned to do so non-verbally. My family has learned to recognize the signs and to acquiesce to my silent and invisible boundaries. They, too, have begun to set their own boundaries.

  3. Sharon on July 31st, 2012 7:32 am

    I used to find it hard to create boundaries but not any more. In mid-life I am making up for lost time, I think. Yesterday I got an invitation to coffee with a group of women in town that I enjoy spending time with…but I didn’t say for sure I would be there because I haven’t been home much and have a lot to catch up on. Some of that catching up is me wanting to catch my breath. My need for quiet time is now as much a priority as anything I might be able to do to help someone else. That’s progress!

  4. Cindy La Ferle on July 31st, 2012 7:37 am

    Sharon, I love how you said “Some of that catching up is me wanting to catch my breath.” Bravo!!

  5. Cindy on July 31st, 2012 7:38 am

    Sharon, I would love to hear about those “non-verbal” clues!

  6. Mary Ellen Warner on July 31st, 2012 8:18 am

    One of the blessings of my hearing loss is my need to limit phone calls! Email works so much better for me and establishes boundaries.

  7. Pam Houghton on August 2nd, 2012 2:21 pm

    I think social media is a huge culprit. It steals away so much time…I find myself lately avoiding Facebook and yet, when I go back on, I feel bad if I don’t try and catch up on all that I’ve missed. Which could take hours! I probably should just not care and leave it be without playing catch up. But yes, boundaries are important. This is a good reminder. Thanks, Cindy!

  8. Cindy on August 2nd, 2012 2:30 pm

    Totally agree with you, Pam !!

  9. Jan Smith on August 2nd, 2012 5:06 pm

    What I’ve run into is a problem with everyone else setting their limits and leaving it to me to take up the slack. This applies mostly to family problems and emergencies, but leaks over into other areas as well. It can be overwhelming.

  10. Cindy on August 2nd, 2012 5:08 pm

    Jan, the last thing YOU need right now is to take care of others while YOU are in recovery. Take care of you, my friend!

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