Part of maturity is the ability to assert meaningful boundaries and not merely lose ourselves within the desires and expectations of others. But ideally our boundaries are permeable – still allowing for influence and not so rigid that we become stuck in the echo chamber of our own limited thoughts and opinions.
On the one hand, we’re unable to form a meaningful sense of identity without the ability to distinguish ourselves from others. And this explains a lot of the tantrums of toddlers and rebellion of teenagers; in their own way, they’re trying to find the boundary line between themselves and others. And these are lines we need to find and be aware of throughout our adult lives as well, though hopefully in a less dramatic fashion.
All the same, such relational boundaries are not intended to be brick walls of indifference. While developing a solid sense of who we are through setting boundaries, our growth requires an ongoing process of discernment. In short, we sort and filter the perspectives of others – readily accepting what’s good and true, and freely rejecting what’s not. This allows us to grow and expand.
When our boundaries are too rigid our growth becomes stunted. We automatically reject the opinions of others – leaving us only with our own understanding. And while we might proudly hold on to our identity such as it is, it’s fragile and weak at its core.
Permeable boundaries require us to wrestle through challenging new thoughts and ideas. But it’s here that we exercise our sense of self and can truly forge a solid place to stand throughout our life and relationships.
In the end, continue to set meaningful boundaries – clearly articulating your sense of self. But remember to keep these boundaries permeable – allowing others to still influence you for the good.