MODULE SIX: BOUNDARIES
This module is about personal boundaries. The purpose of this module is to introduce and help participants identify their boundaries, describe what their boundaries are, and to analyze different communication styles. These activities will encourage participants to continue to explore their physical and emotional boundaries and to consider the personal boundaries of other people.
- Participants will describe their personal boundaries.
- Participants will critically think about the boundaries of others.
- Participants will demonstrate how boundaries and communication work together.
- Participants will be able to verbally communicate their relationship boundaries.
- Participants will understand various communication styles.
- Sign-In Sheet
Activity One: Defining Boundaries
Activity Two: Defining Your Communication Styles
- Communication Scenario Cards
Activity Three: Drawing Your Boundaries
- Drawing Your Boundaries Example Sheet
- Group Process Notes
INTRODUCTION: (5 MINUTES)
Have the participants sign in. Ask the participants how their week is going.
Open with the question:
- What is “personal space” and what does that mean to you?
Take a few minutes to explain that today you will be discussing boundaries which include personal space.
Review agreements established during Module One. Remind them of the importance of these agreements given the personal nature of the information that will be discussed.
Remind participants about the definition of violence that was used in the first meeting. “Violence is anything that denies human integrity and leads to hopelessness and helplessness.” —Dr. Martin Luther King. Today that definition of violence is going to be extended to personal relationships.
Introduce boundaries and what they are. Boundaries are guidelines, rules, or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how they will respond when someone steps outside those limits. Boundaries are formed from a mix of beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences, upbringing, environments and social learning.
- What are some examples of physical boundaries?
Mentor: Every day we see physical boundaries in our world; can you think of an example of a physical boundary?
Participant: Like a fence?
Mentor: Yes, exactly. When we see a fence we are seeing a physical boundary and even though it is just a fence, it is communicating something to people. What do you think a fence communicates?
Participant: I don’t know. Keep out.
Mentor: Exactly. But it also keeps things in too. Think about a farmer with cows. He needs to keep his cows confined and that’s what a fence does, it keeps things in. Humans have fences too, but we can’t always see them like we can a fence. They are called boundaries.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS ACTIVITY IS FOR PARTICIPANTS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT A BOUNDARY IS.
State that healthy relationships are based on mutual respect and equality. The simplest way to explain this is that in a healthy relationship, both partners treat each other the way they would expect to be treated. You all have the right to be treated in the ways you just described. However, if you expect others treat you in this way, you have a responsibility to treat them in the same way.
In order to have healthy, respectful relationships, we first need to understand ourselves and our values. We’re going to continue considering these things by thinking about what our boundaries and limits are.
What are some other types of physical boundaries?
- National borders;
- Canyons; or
- Lines on an athletic field.
What happens when these types of physical boundaries are broken?
- You may be arrested for trespassing.
- You may receive a sports penalty.
People have boundaries to protect themselves. Our boundaries define our “comfort zone.” You can make your own boundaries based on your comfort and values. Then you can decide who you allow to come close to you.
- You decide how you want to be treated physically, emotionally, verbally and sexually.
- You decide who and how you let others into your space.
- You decide when and how often you see someone.
- Allowing a person to come close, inside your boundaries, should mean you trust that
- Everyone has different boundaries for different people.
- Your boundaries change over time.
We all have different comfort levels regarding physical closeness. We regulate the amount of space we want to maintain between us and others by setting boundaries. The degree to which we know or like people affects how close we will let them come physically and emotionally. When you feel uncomfortable in a situation, it is important you pay attention to how you are feeling and say “stop.” You need to let people know in an assertive way that their behavior makes you uncomfortable. Being able to assert yourself, including saying “no” to friends or acquaintances, articulates your boundaries to them. What are some ways that you could say “stop” in a non-violent way?
If there are enough participants, pair them up and give each of them one of the following questions to ask their partner. Come back as a group and discuss.
- How close do you let others come to you? Physically? Emotionally?
- How is this different for family, friends and strangers?
- How is this different if the person approaching you is of the same or opposite gender?
- Which situations can make it difficult to ask for what you want or say “no” to what you don’t want?
- What are some advantages of speaking up when someone is breaking a boundary?
For example, you may hug your grandfather, but if you met an older adult man once and tried to hug him that would be uncomfortable.
Responses include: increase the sense of self-control over your own life, gain the respect of others, and feel safer.
When you speak up, you teach the person who is making you feel uncomfortable to respect your boundaries. It is important to know your personal boundaries clearly so if someone crosses them you can voice your discomfort to keep yourself safe.
It’s also important to keep in mind we have a responsibility to respect other’s boundaries. When someone tells you a certain behavior makes them uncomfortable, you have the responsibility to respect their feelings. If you choose not to, then you should expect to be held accountable for violating their boundaries. This is especially true if one partner does not consent to a sexual activity.
When addressing boundaries and physical activities consent needs to be considered.
DISCUSSION: CONSENT AND BOUNDARIES
When respecting your partner’s boundaries consent is given in a mutual and honest way. It is a process, meaning consenting once to an action does not mean it is agreed upon forever. Consent is never implied and cannot be assumed even if you are in a relationship with someone. Just because you are in a relationship doesn’t give you permission to be physical with your partner. The most important thing to remember is both people have to be involved in decision making in a relationship.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS ACTIVITY IS TO DEFINE AND UNDERSTAND DIFFERENT COMMUNICATION STYLES.
Chart the terms passive, passive aggressive, assertive, and aggressive under the heading My Communication Style. Write the brief description for each category that is in italics below.
Today we will discuss four types of communication: passive, passive aggressive, aggressive and assertive. Read each definition that you wrote on the chart board. After you read each definition ask the participants what they think this means. Then provide the explanation and example. Do this for each one of the definitions.
DEFINITION OF PASSIVE COMMUNICATION: THE PERSON TRIES TO AVOID CONFLICT AT ALL COSTS BY NOT EXPRESSING THEIR OPINION.
EXPLANATION: BY NOT EXPLAINING HOW THEY FEEL, THE SITUATION OFTEN GETS WORSE AND THE PERSON WHO USES THIS TYPE OF COMMUNICATION DOES NOT GET THEIR NEEDS MET.
EXAMPLE: KELLIE DOESN’T TELL HER MOM HOW SHE FEELS BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T WANT TO START A FIGHT.
DEFINITION OF PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION: THE PERSON SEEMS PASSIVE ON THE SURFACE, BUT THEY ARE REALLY ACTING OUT OF ANGER IN AN INDIRECT OR BEHIND-THE-SCENES KIND OF WAY.
EXPLANATION: THIS FORM OF COMMUNICATION DOES NOT RESOLVE THE PROBLEM OR ADDRESS FEELINGS. IT ONLY HURTS OTHERS.
EXAMPLE: MIKE TELLS HIS SISTER THAT HE ISN’T ANGRY THAT SHE LOST HIS CELL PHONE, BUT LATER SAYS SOMETHING HURTFUL ON PURPOSE TO GET BACK AT HER.
DEFINITION OF AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION: THE PERSON EXPRESSES OR COMMUNICATES THEIR FEELINGS IN A WAY THAT VIOLATES THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS.
EXPLANATION: AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATORS MAY NOT ALLOW OTHERS TO HAVE THEIR VOICES HEARD OR MAY HURT OTHERS IN THE PROCESS OF EXPRESSING THEMSELVES.
EXAMPLE: MR. SMITH YELLED AT THE CLASS BECAUSE NO ONE COMPLETED THE ASSIGNMENT.
DEFINITION OF ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION: THE PERSON CLEARLY EXPRESSES THEMSELVES IN A WAY THAT ALLOWS THEM TO SPEAK UP FOR THEIR RIGHTS AND NEEDS WITHOUT VIOLATING THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS.
EXPLANATION: WHEN YOU COMMUNICATE YOUR BOUNDARIES, YOU SHOULD COMMUNICATE ASSERTIVELY. THIS TYPE OF COMMUNICATION HAS THE MOST POTENTIAL FOR A POSITIVE OUTCOME.
EXAMPLE: WHEN ARMAND WAS UPSET WITH HIS FRIEND HE SAID, “I FEEL FRUSTRATED WHEN WE MAKE PLANS TO HANG OUT AND YOU SHOW UP LATE.”
Read each Communication Scenario aloud and have participants identify the communication style used after each scenario is read.
- Michael is upset with his class project partner because he feels like he always listens when she speaks, but she doesn’t listen when Michael speaks. Michael says, “I don’t like it when you don’t listen to my suggestions for this project because I feel like what I have to say is not important to you.” (Assertive)
- Natalya and her best friend Latoya are having a disagreement. Natalya is upset, but she keeps telling Latoya that nothing is wrong when she Later, she won’t answer her calls or return her text messages. Natalia knows it bugs Latoya when she ignores her. (Passive Aggressive)
- Chad recently started dating someone new. His new dating partner jokingly calls him her “little elf” because his ears stick out slightly. It really bothers Chad when she calls him that, but he doesn’t say anything to her about it. She knows he is sensitive about his ears. He doesn’t want to start a fight with his new girlfriend when she’s just trying to be funny. (Passive)
- Jose and his brother Tony are having an argument. Tony has been going on about how angry he is and has even called Jose a couple of names. Whenever Jose tries to speak, he tells him to shut up and wait until he’s done speaking. (Aggressive)
- Miguel always hangs out with his guy friends on Friday night. This Friday, his sister’s team is playing a game and she invited Miguel to come. Miguel said he didn’t want to cancel on his friends. She tells Miguel that this is important to her and respectfully asks that he Miguel changes his plans with his friends to Saturday night so that he can go see his sister play at the game. (Assertive)
DISCUSSION: AFTER COMPLETING THE ACTIVITY ASK THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS.
- What are some of the potential drawbacks of passive communication? One person does not communicate their needs or feelings. They are unhappy because their needs and feelings are not being met. If this continues over the long-term, one person may begin to resent the other person. Boundaries are not clearly communicated.
- How might passive aggressive communication be harmful to a relationship? The people do not understand each other’s needs. One gets mixed messages because the other does not communicate their feelings, but then does hurtful things. This may cause the conflict to get worse. Boundaries are not clearly communicated. This can also be a warning sign for an unhealthy relationship.
- What are the negative impacts of aggressive communication? One person feels like their rights and voice are trumped by the other. One partner may be made to feel bad or upset. This type of communication can cause conflict to escalate. This is when abusive behaviors can start.
ACTIVITY THREE: DRAWING YOUR BOUNDARIES: (10 MINUTES)
In order to have healthy, respectful relationships, we first need to understand our personal needs and values. Consider each when we discuss our boundaries and limits.
A boundary sets a border or limit. There are many types of boundaries. They can be used to define physical or emotional space, distance, or closeness between you and another person. People have boundaries to protect themselves. Our boundaries define our “comfort zone.” You can make your own imaginary boundaries to help you think about what things are important to you in a relationship. Then you can decide who you allow to come close to you. Your relationship boundaries can be your “deal breakers.” This activity is to decide what those “deal breakers” are for participants.
Review Activity directions while participants view the example:
- Create a drawing of what our personal boundaries would look like if you could see them. Start by drawing a picture of yourself in the center of piece of paper.
- Think about what your boundaries made of (e.g. paper, brick, concrete, fences, force fields, bubbles, words, signs, magic, etc.). How can you best represent your boundaries with colors, lines, symbols and shapes? Your boundaries can be anything and can take any shape or form you’d like. Draw them around the representation of yourself.
- While you’re drawing your boundaries, think about whom you let into your boundaries and who you keep out. Write the people or qualities that you value.
- On the outside, write the behaviors or actions you want to keep out of your comfort zone or the behaviors or actions you’re protecting yourself from by having boundaries.
Explain that everyone has their own boundaries and limits. If you understand your own boundaries, you can tell others when you are uncomfortable and protect yourself. When someone violates our boundaries, it doesn’t feel good. But that doesn’t give us a right to use physical, verbal or emotional violence against them. An exception to this would be if someone is being sexually or physically assaulted and they need to protect themselves. If someone violates your boundaries, you should communicate to them in a clear, calm way what your boundaries are and how it makes you feel when someone crosses them.
Take some of the examples given earlier and ask:
- How can you communicate if you see someone acting in a way that you don’t agree with?
If the person still chooses to disrespect your boundaries, first you should try and discuss it with that person and if that does not work then you should talk to a trusted adult. Remind participants to keep these conversations in mind while they are thinking of ideas for the Fotonovela/comic strip that you are going to create in a few more sessions. Take a few minutes and start to brainstorm ideas for the fotonovela.
PEAK AND PIT OF THE SESSION: (5 MINUTES)
As part of the closing you will to ask participants what was the peak and the pit of the session. Go around the group and ask everyone to say what they thought the best part of the session was and what the worst part of it was. Record the information in the Group Process Notes.
- Michael is upset with his class project partner because he feels like he always listens when she speaks, but she doesn’t listen when Michael speaks. Michael says, “I don’t like it when you don’t listen to my suggestions for this project because I feel like what I have to say is not important to you.”
- Natalya and her best friend Latoya are having a disagreement. Natalya is upset, but she keeps telling Latoya that nothing is wrong when she asks. Later, she won’t answer her calls or return her text messages. Natalia knows it bugs her friend Latoya when she ignores her.
- Chad recently started dating someone new. His new dating partner jokingly calls him her “little elf” because his ears stick out slightly. It really bothers Chad when she calls him that, but he doesn’t say anything to her about it. She knows he is sensitive about his ears. He doesn’t want to start a fight with his new girlfriend when she’s just trying to be funny.
- Jose and his brother Tony are having an argument. Tony has been going on about how angry he is and has even called Jose a couple of names. Whenever Jose tries to speak, he tells him to shut up and wait until he’s done speaking.
- Miguel always hangs out with his guy friends on Friday night. This Friday, his sister’s team is playing a game and she invited Miguel to come. Miguel said he didn’t want to cancel on his friends. She tells Miguel that this is important to her and respectfully asks that he Miguel changes his plans with his friends to Saturday night so that he can go see his sister play at the game.
Drawing Your Boundaries Example
- Module One: What’s Up?
- Module Two: Who Has the Power?
- Module Three: Healthy Relationships
- Module Four: Dynamics of Teen Dating Violence and How to Help a Friend
- Module Five: Being an Ally
- Module Six: Boundaries
- Module Seven: How We Feel, How We Deal
- Module Eight The Man Box
- Module Nine: Creating a Community Tool
- Module Ten: What can you Do?
- Mentor’s Toolbox