• Jamie Neville

Where you end and I begin

Who thinks about boundaries? Counsellors? Teachers? People who read 50 Shades of Grey?

The thing about boundaries is that we have all got them and they’re everywhere. But we’re very rarely explicit about them. Situations like work and school have boundaries: a start and an end time, a very clear policy about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. The sanction for transgression of those boundaries is agreed and accepted in advance of a transgression taking place. In the most part, people know what to expect and what is expected of them.

Boundaries are more and less rigid depending on the environment and the people within it.

But social life is different, and so are family relations and friendships. They tend to be more freeform and negotiable. Sometimes, the nature of relating to each other tends to result in one or more people overstepping the mark, maybe in a power imbalance – and this is where a lot of conflict comes from.

But conflict isn’t always inherently bad, and when it comes to understanding your own personal boundaries, it can be a good indicator of where they lie. Don’t forget, these will be different for each person you interact with. It’s worth spending a little time thinking on what the limits of your boundaries are with each person and in each situation, in advance. We’ve made the following little worksheet to help you work out where yours might be.

Take a moment to imagine what it will be l