Let me share a true story with you. When I was going to graduate school, I was working part-time as a bartender. In the city I was living, all bartenders were required to have a bartending license. To obtain a bartending license, a bartender had to pass a test that included questions on the local municipal code including the rules for serving alcohol to the public in bars and taverns.
One of the obvious rules was not to serve alcohol to anyone under age 21. Another rule was determining when someone was intoxicated so that person would not be served any more liquor. Another rule was that “package goods” including liquor could not be sold after 12:00 midnight.
These rules for serving alcohol to the public in bars and taverns represented a set of legal “boundaries.” These legal boundaries are similar to our own personal boundaries.
A “boundary” is a set of limits we establish to protect ourselves from being violated, used or manipulated by others.
Boundaries allow us to separate what we think, do and feel and separate who we are, from the thoughts, actions and feelings of others.
The bar in which I was working had several large coolers including six-packs and twelve packs of beer and large single bottles of beer. Since the place I was bartending was a local neighborhood bar, many of the bar patrons would grab a six-pack on the way out to drink at home.
Every night at 12:00 midnight, the lights in the coolers were turned off, so no package goods were sold at the bar after that time. To make sure none of the local municipal rules were not violated and the bartenders where doing what they were required to do, the local police force would send in undercover officers to the bars and taverns on a routine basis.
One of the things the undercover police officers would do was to make sure that the package goods rule was complied with. The undercover officers would enter the bar at about 11:45 pm and grab a six-pack from one of the coolers and place it on the bar for purchase. Then they would sit at the bar until after 12:00 midnight.
At that point, the undercover police officer would attempt to purchase the six-pack. If such a purchase was made, it would violate the local municipal rules and could result in a fine for the bartender or the bar owner and could also result in the bar losing its liquor license.
The undercover officers would try to persuade the bartenders to sell the six-packs after 12:00 midnight deadline. They would use arguments like, “I got it out of the cooler before midnight so I can still buy it, its just a few minutes after midnight, no one will know that you sold it to me, I always buy it after midnight, if you won’t sell it to me, I will buy it from someone else,” etc.
The 12:00 midnight rule for package goods is very similar to the concept of other people trying to violate the personal boundaries you have established for yourself and by trying to manipulate you with arguments based on their own personal agendas.
So, how can you enforce your own personal boundaries and prevent others from violating those boundaries or manipulating you and trying to “buy a six-pack after 12:00 midnight?”
- Understand and Define What Your Personal Boundaries Are. Your personal boundaries include your own individual internal and external physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and spiritual boundaries. Your personal boundaries are actually a set of behavioral constructs that define and predict how you will react to every situation you encounter in your daily life.
- Understand Why Personal Boundaries Are Important. Personal boundaries are essential for creating personal integrity and a healthy self-image for yourself. Personal boundaries are also important for establishing, upholding and communicating your self-respect and self-worth to others. Personal boundaries are your own personal safe zone in which you feel secure, at ease, in control and without stress.
- Recognize When Your Personal Boundaries Have Been Crossed. Your personal boundaries can be crossed by words and by intrusion on your personal space. If someone has crossed your personal boundaries with words it typically will make you feel discomfort, resentment, stress, anxiety, guilt, fear, shame, etc. If some has crossed your personal boundaries by intrusion on your personal space, the person may be calling you, texting you, stalking you on social media, may be standing too close to you when they talk to you or may be even physically touching you, hugging you, etc.
- Take Immediate Action When You Recognize Your Personal Boundaries Have Been Crossed. When you recognize any of your personal boundaries have been crossed, be assertive. Immediately communicate to any person who has violated one of your boundaries that what that person is doing is not ok and it makes you uncomfortable. Use assertive statements to define your personal boundary and how it was violated. These assertive statements can also be stated in a way that is not offensive to the person who has violated one of your boundaries. For example, “I feel uncomfortable when you use that language around me. If you desire to talk that way please do not do so around me,” etc.
Maintaining strong and clear personal boundaries allows you to maintain healthy emotional and physical controls and make a positive impact in your own life.
I still never let anybody buy a “six-pack after 12:00 midnight.” How about you?
Out There on the Edge of Everything®…
Stephen Lesavich, PhD
Copyright © 2019, by Stephen Lesavich, PhD. All rights reserved.
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