We all have innate boundaries: how close to us should someone stand? How do we feel when we’re talked over or interrupted? Do we feel upset when someone disagrees with us? How about when they involve us in something that violates our ethics or belief in what’s right?
We’re more trustworthy to others when people know what they can count on us for—when we value our own boundaries and know why we have them. Children don’t feel safe when the behavioral boundaries parents set for them are variable or nonexistent—they’ll push until they can find them. In these ways, boundaries build bridges of familiarity, safety and trustworthiness. They can also become walls. Let’s consider how to use ours to build bridges.