“A boundary is a limit or border… boundaries relate to imaginary borders that surround each individual’s body, spirit, energy, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. We set boundaries to help insure our personal safety, comfort, and self-respect. If our boundaries are violated by ourselves or others, we experience various feelings of discomfort. Thus, we use our boundaries to care for ourselves and to be respectful of others.
We distinguish between external and internal boundaries. External boundaries focus on physical and sexual aspects. Internal boundaries concentrate on protecting our emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. If our boundaries are intact and functional, then we can say: ‘I know where I stop and where you begin,’ ‘I know what is my business and what is none of my business,’ ‘I know the difference between my emotions and others’s emotions,’ ‘I recognize what is and is not my responsibility,’ and ‘I am aware of what is and is not comfortable or safe for me.’
An example of a physical (external) boundary is a personal comfort zone: the distance of space that feels comfortable between two people. If we do not know a person, we might not feel safe if the person gets too close, tries to hug us, or physically touches us. When we close or lock a door for privacy, or tell someone we do not want a hug, we are setting a physical boundary so we can feel safe. Our physical boundary (comfort zone) can also be flexible. It can vary for different relationships and ti can change within a relationship because of circumstances. We are all unique and only we can determine what physical boundaries feel safe and appropriate for us.” From the book “Codependents Anonymous,” p. 109