Your personal boundaries are sacred. They define who you are, how far you’re willing to go, and how you want others to treat you. No one but you can say what your boundaries are. No matter much others may try to cajole you into adopting their way of thinking, their behavior, or their perspective, your boundaries remain your own. The choice and responsibility are yours.
We’re living in an age when our boundaries are being challenged almost constantly. Every time we notice someone else’s behavior at work, at home, on the road, or in social settings, we are subtly being influenced. Everything is moving so fast that we have make instantaneous choices to imitate others or to show up in the world with integrity.
I’ve created the following tool to help you discover and clarify your personal and professional boundaries. Boundaries are most likely going to be based in your core values: the beliefs and qualities you are willing to live and to die for.
1. Begin with your core values. What are they? Write a list of the five to ten beliefs, relationships, activities, or personal qualities about your life that you admire and value the most, that are absolutely necessary for you to live a fulfilling life. Write them in a column at the left margin of your paper.
2. Describe how it feels for each of these values when it is being respected and affirmed by you and others. Assign a score using a scale of “0-10,” with “0” being the most negative feeling possible, “10” being the most positive feeling possible, and “5” as neutral next to each. Ask for each value: “When <value x> is being RESPECTED I feel (0-10).”
3. Describe how it feels for each of these values when they are violated or disrespected. To the right of the first number, assign a score for each value using the scale of “0-10,” with “0” being the most negative feeling possible, “10” being the most positive feeling possible, and “5”as neutral. Ask for each value: “When <value x> is being VIOLATED I feel (0-10).”
4.Start a new column to the right. Subtract the number you assigned to each value in column 3, when it was VIOLATED or disrespected, from the number you assigned to each value when it was RESPECTED and affirmed. Write these results in the fourth column. Each value will have a possible score of “0-10.”
The highest scored values indicate the core values that touch on your most important boundaries. These are the boundaries you wish to uphold. They will cause you to feel the most hurt when violated. Knowing about them will help you speak up in your own defense. The lowest scored values are neutral or not as central to your life and personal boundaries.
© 2017 Michael Parise
Portions excerpted from Michael’s book: Life Interrupted, Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed
Since 1979 Michael has worked with individuals and groups to take full advantage interruptions and changes to balance responsibilities, simplify their lives, and find greater productivity and peace.
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