The difference between boundaries and rules
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The difference between boundaries and rules

There is a difference between boundaries and rules. Sometimes we get the two confused.

Rules tell others how to behave.

Boundaries tell others how we are going to behave.

The goals of boundary setting are to let someone know how we feel or to communicate our needs.

Sometimes people use their “boundaries” to create rigid expectations and concrete directives about how others can and cannot behave around them. These are better described as rules, not boundaries.

For example: “This behaviour you do is not okay with me,” (a boundary) is a different statement than “you’re not allowed to do this behaviour around me,” (a rule).

Creating rules and structured guidelines is necessary in a parent-child relationship. Children benefit from rules. A clear set of expectations helps them learn the limits and can teach them about their own behaviour.

Rules that are created to guide are different than rules intended to control. Adult relationships usually suffer when the rules we set are put in place to control others.

Rules create walls between ourselves and others. Boundaries show people where the doors are.

Rules tell people how to be. Boundaries show people how we’re going to be.

Rules tell others where to stand. Boundaries show others where we stand.

Rigid rules are not real boundaries.


By: Jake Ernst

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