I’ve seen people shudder when I say the word “boundaries.” Some associate it with control, others with being shut out. Boundaries actually don’t have anything to do with either.
Boundaries are definitions in your life. They say, “This is where I end, and where you begin.”  When someone crosses one of those boundaries, we have a right to say, “Nope, step back. This isn’t how I want to do relationship.”
As Cloud and Townsend write in the book Boundaries, boundaries are like a gate, letting in what is good, that which we need, and keeping out what is not good, that which is harmful.
The concept is an easy one to understand, but when you’ve come from a background where you don’t necessarily know how to have boundaries, they can be difficult to live out. Boundaries are not just a set of rules, they are skills needed to live a healthy life, often needing to be discovered and reinforced.
The simplest tool to maintain boundaries is the word “No.” I think it’s the most challenging tool, too.
The idea of saying no means to communicate what you desire. If you don’t want to do something, say no. If someone gets too close, tell them to back off.
At some point, saying no means we risk upsetting even the people closest to us.
This risk is one that should always be taken.
No external relationship is worth sacrificing your internal freedom. Fear of how the other person will react is a key marker a boundary does not exist in an area of your life. How the other person reacts is not your responsibility.
If you want to learn how to have boundaries, learn to respect others’. If they say no, back off. If you keep pushing, you’ve infringed their boundaries. By learning how to have value for another’s boundaries, you will learn to value your own and pick up some more ways to communicate them.
To truly live life, boundaries are required.
Learning how to say no and have healthy boundaries are an absolute key to living a mature, healthy, fulfilled life. With solid boundaries, no longer will you be worried about what someone else is going to say or how they will react to you, but instead will be free to manage yourself and allow others to do the same.
A fulfilled life is found not only in chasing your dreams, but in building lasting, healthy relationships. Boundaries help give you the tools you need to maintain the health and energy to keep your relationships thriving.