Fences have been around for centuries. They serve more than one purpose, in many cases. They can serve to keep things out, but at the same time they are keeping things in as well. One function of fences is that they can represent a boundary. A fence doesn’t have to be razor wire with electricity running through it in order for it to be effective. It does have to at least exist and be monitored, and also effectively managed, however.

I would suggest that the nature and construct of the fence would be determined largely by its function. If its purpose is to simply serve as a reminder to those who will respect what it represents, then a small pile of stones every few feet would be sufficient. If its purpose is to prevent more, shall we say, persistent individuals from crossing into an area they aren’t welcome or permitted, then it may need to be of a more aggressive construction and management.

We all need to put boundaries, not walls, in place in our lives. Walls are a protectionist mechanism born out of fear and lack of willingness to confront or deal with an issue. Boundaries are not the same thing as walls. This is an important distinction and it is vital that you understand the difference when setting boundaries. Don’t supplant the word ‘boundaries’ as a means to justify any walls you may have in your life.

Every person on the planet has a set of stories which has brought them to the present. These stories create a world view and model in which they have determined what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. Since no two people have experienced the exact same stories, we find ourselves at a disparity as to what is appropriate or not. Sometimes we find the pressure of society bearing down on us as to what should be appropriate or not as well. The reality is, we set our own boundaries in our lives, but only if we choose to do so.

It is very well possible that one of your boundaries could exclude what society’s boundaries may include. That’s okay. It is entirely possible that one of your boundaries include what society’s boundaries exclude. That’s okay too. Keep in mind, your boundaries are there for you to manage your life and not infringe on the lives of others. Someone else not agreeing with your boundaries is not infringement, it is disagreement.

Is it possible that some people who disagree with your boundaries, and who may have authority over you, may try to push those boundaries? Absolutely. You will find yourself in a place of deciding to live out of conviction or by allowing others to dictate your boundaries. If you run from confrontation, your boundaries will not stick. It is extremely important that you communicate your boundaries, but try not to engage emotionally when doing so (especially the more negative emotions). People are more likely to respect your boundaries when they are communicated in a positive and non-threatening way. There will always be people who will not respect your boundaries no matter how non-threatening your boundaries are communicated. This shouldn’t deter you from maintaining your position, again without engaging emotionally. Remember, what you engage, you empower. That includes an irrational argument with someone who refuses to respect your boundaries.

Setting boundaries can seem a bit scary at first; especially if you are just beginning to do so. Here are some tips on how to begin:

• First you have to figure out what the boundaries need to be (which can be a chore in and of itself). ) Only you can determine what these might be. It would be helpful to find a friend or colleague who has already done this and discuss things with them.
• Decide which boundaries are firm and which ones are “circumstantially conditional”. Occasionally, a boundary may be relaxed due to unusual circumstances, such as tragedy or other extreme scenarios. Make sure that this doesn’t become an excuse to not properly manage your boundaries.
• Practice how you want to communicate your boundaries. Do this by yourself before you begin communicating them to others. This will give you an opportunity to hear them spoken out loud and give you the opportunity to critique how you are communicating them.

Once you have gone through these simple steps, you should be in a more empowered place to communicate your boundaries. Those around you, especially those with a stronger personality than you, who aren’t very adept at accepting the boundaries of others, may challenge you on your new boundaries. They will say things like, “You’ve changed” or “Why are you such a prude all of a sudden?” This can be a form of manipulation because, as humans, we aren’t too excited about change; especially when we view it as limiting what we are permitted to do.

Having overcome the strangeness of setting boundaries, you will begin to embrace the freedom and peace that you have from having them in place. It is an inner peace that is pleasant and nearly untouchable. Let me encourage you to begin this process right now. Begin to ponder what boundaries you should have in your life that you don’t have right now. How would you communicate them? Now take action and begin implementing them. You will be amazed at how confident you begin to feel and, eventually, you will find yourself much more respected by your peers for having done so. The best of luck and most importantly, have fun! You are actively managing your life.