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RESPECT co-author, Courtney Macavinta, blogs for girls and women about how to build your self-respect and spread respect for all! At The Respect Institute she teaches people of all ages how to integrate The Respect Basics into their lives, work and advocacy. More about About Courtney

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Boundaries, Girls

Bound-a-ries, Please

A boundary is a line—usually an invisible line you set that you don’t want others to cross. Your boundaries are defined by your personal limits, values, and life experiences.

If you’re in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or if someone does something to you that you don’t like, your line has been crossed. The boundaries you set can affect how a person talks to you, how someone treats you, how someone might touch you, and so much more. Here are some examples of situations and boundaries you might try:

Feelings. If you feel like someone’s trying to censor your emotions, try saying, “I’m really upset and need a few minutes to myself. I hope you understand,” or “Can you hang out with me and not say anything for a few minutes? I don’t really want advice right now. Just having you here is helping.”

Criticisms. Many people don’t hold back—they just let their words fly, especially when it comes to criticism. When people who are supposed to love you (like family and friends) are harsh, their words tend to hurt (and stick). The same goes for you if you’re dishing out criticism. If someone harshly criticizes you, filter it. Here’s how: First, try not to take immediate offense. Stop and ask yourself, “Is there some truth to that?” Feedback from other people helps you grow. So, in your mind, take the good (“Do I need to work on ______?”) but leave the bad (“The way she said that was rude. She didn’t need to say ______”). Next, tell the person how you feel. Try, “I appreciate your concern, but the way you said it hurt my feelings. Next time, could you try to tell me what I need to work on without saying ______?”

Teasing. Even when friends are "just teasing," it can really hurt. Set a boundary by sharing how you feel (not on everything your friend has done wrong), so she’s more likely to hear you out. Try, “I feel really hurt when you tease me in front of other people, even if you think you’re just joking around.

Pressures. Life is full of people pressures, especially those that come from friends and family. If a friend pressures you to do things you don’t want to do and then lays a guilt trip on you if you refuse, your friend isn’t listening to your boundaries, and she’s stepping on your rights.Set your boundary again in a firm voice, saying, “I told you that I don’t want to do _____. Please respect my reasons, even if you don’t agree with them.” You could add, “You’re not going to change my mind by making me feel guilty. Please don’t pressure me this way.”

Adapted from Respect: A Girl’s Guide to Getting Respect and Dealing When Your Line Is Crossed by Courtney Macavinta and Andrea Vander Pluym © 2005. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 1-866-703-7322; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved. llustration by Catherine LePage © Free Spirit Publishing Inc. 2005


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