Boundaries define our identity and benefit our relationships

Tuesday, September 25, 2001 at 1:00am

I thought you cared about me. How could you do this to me after all I have done for you? When I am dead and gone, you will be sorry! Someday you will understand. You think only of yourself.

These statements are signs of relationships in which boundaries are not very clear. But what are boundaries? Dr. Henry Cloud, author of the book Boundaries, says they are limits we set to protect ourselves from being overwhelmed or run over by others. Boundaries help us define our own identity and keep others from taking advantage of us. Boundaries tell others what they can and cannot do in a relationship and what they can expect.

When we fail to set boundaries, other people are free to dump their problems and/or their emergencies on us. A lack of boundaries impacts our privacy, our space, our time, our job and, above all, our relationships. We end up feeling overwhelmed, disrespected and even violated by the demand of others. They want what they want, when they want it, and we refuse to say no to them because of fear of loss of love, respect or status. Fear is the optimum word here.

Lack of boundaries can be manifested in many ways. It could be children who refuse to go to bed on time, don

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