A boundary is a limit defining you in a relationship with someone or something. They can also be physical or emotional, tangible or intangible; at work, the boundaries tend to fall into the emotional end of the scale. Work-related boundaries go much deeper: these define how much of myself is shaped by my career and work and in discovering and forging relationships with your coworkers, colleagues and managers.
Emotional boundaries are distinguishing your very own emotions from someone else's; what you will or will not allow and tolerate for your emotional state such as opinions, beliefs, behaviours and feelings, whilst not compromising to and being subject to the issues of other people. Learning how to filter and weed out what are considered to be my and their issues, the hugely negative aspects, as well as implementing what you will and will not allow and accept.
Boundaries exist as a safe-haven to help protect ourselves by clarifying what is our responsibility, in addition to the other person's. Of them respecting my space and of myself respect theirs. Boundaries intend to preserve our physical, psychological and emotional energy, as well as one's personal and individual values and to maintain social dynamics in the workplace.
You are not responsible for the other person's happiness, emotions; one is not accountable for them. Some can't and may not help themselves for specific reasons -, yet you can't change and put a stop to how they act and behave towards you and others, rather you need to be aware of their personality traits so you can decide what is the best course of action to take to guard yourself, to take care of yourself and to put you and your needs first and foremost. If someone is having a bad day and s/he is taking their frustrations out on me, then that is their problem, their worry. Rather than to change them.
Once you put your foot down and state ''that's enough'', people will respect you; when you have boundaries and people intend to challenge, invade - or even violate them, when you put your happiness first, you know what's best for you. People of whom have good mental and emotional boundaries are self-aware about what they are feeling and when and they have a strong sense of identity and self-respect. They tell it as it is by saying ''no'' and not allowing and bowing down to others' moods and emotions, which would easily influence or affect their own's. As women, we are conditioned to believe that with traits such as being empathetic, supportive, caring and emotional, the needs of others are thus more important than our own's.
Therein lies an emotional trigger, a massive red button, a thing that when pushed, sets it off that you and I become activated or are provoked by somebody else's comments and actions. These could be in the form of words, people, situations, opinions or the environment that you are in. When this happens, afterwards I withdraw from him/her, emotionally and keep a (physical) distance and give them space and refrain myself from having any contact with them until I feel ready and able to do so.
Feelings of guilt tend to creep up on us that we feel obligated to him/her and is something us people-pleasers do instinctively. We find it almost impossible to say ''no'' that we agree to things and say ''yes'', because we don't want to feel guilty, nor be seen in a bad light and in letting these people down. We want to feel validated, respected, to be valued, appreciated, and I'd add understood as well. When really this isn't necessary.
There was one time at work last year whereby my emotional triggers got the better, or be it worse of me; I felt I was being dismissed by her, so I reacted instead of responding to the situation, and as a result, the outcome wasn't a good one by any means. Over time and to this day, in reflecting over the incident, it wasn't until I realised and identified where this emotional trigger came from that I sought to recognise why I reacted the way I did: she downplayed something I said. I felt as if I wasn't of worth, I was feeling ignored by her, I was trying to seek her 'approval', whilst she was practically speaking to pretty much anyone she was around. It left me feeling devalued, disrespected, devastated that in a separate incident, I lashed out in anger, which I deeply regret. I took on and was feeding on her pain and anguish as my own -, and in doing so, I broke down and struggled enormously with my emotions.
It taught me a valuable lesson... and that if I ever continued going down this path by reacting in situations, and dealing with emotional hurt through anger that leads to hatred, it would hurt me emotionally in the long run. Thankfully, and as of today, I have come to learn to better control my emotions and by placing these boundaries to prevent myself from being emotionally wounded; to take myself out of situations or not say a word during times when I dreaded that s/he would say something stupid or rude to either get under my skin, offend me or to hurt my feelings. I had to acknowledge that by reacting to situations instead of taking the time to analyse, reflect and address them and by making it a personal thing against her, I wasn't being a good person: that I was being spiteful and selfish: two terms I dissociate myself with.
Nowadays, when someone is being sad, angry, toxic, negative, I choose to remove or detach myself from their presence - that or to respond in a conscientious and proactive or benevolent manner that says 'well, okay' and from there onwards, think of and say something to offset any negative emotions that may develop. And with the boundaries set in place, there is a greater sense of relief and protection that I deem of worth that their words, actions can't and won't hurt me, or won't hurt me as much. I stay silent, calm and not react emotionally and focus on my job role and doing the work the best I can.
Thankfully, being empathetic and compassionate and kind, as well as being kind to myself keeps me connected, grounded and sane amongst the difficult and toxic people I am surrounded by and whose paths I cross throughout my daily life.
Life isn't always easy and straightforward as it comes with its sets of challenges, hurdles, difficulties, issues - though sometimes the most painful, stressful, difficult situations that occur and challenge us at work and in our personal lives, the mistakes we can't undo and the lessons we learn through by going through them can become the catalyst for thriving work and personal relationships, introducing and setting boundaries and limitations, healing, change within ourselves internally and externally, and especially making us become better human beings.