Maintaining healthy boundaries is about recognizing the point at which our principles, and those of our communities, no longer overlap.
As relationships evolve, lives gradually become entwined. We tend to have a great deal in common with the people who attract us, and our regard for them compels us to trust their judgment. While our lives may seem to run together so smoothly that the line dividing them cannot be seen, we remain separate beings. To disregard these barriers is to sacrifice independence. It is our respect for the fact that our lives exist independently of the lives of others that allows us to set emotional and physical boundaries, to explore our interests and capabilities even when people close to us do not understand our partialities, and to agree to disagree. Maintaining healthy barriers is a matter of recognizing the point at which our principles and those of our loved ones and peers no longer overlap.
Human beings must relentlessly fight the temptation to follow the crowd. Naturally, we want to be liked, accepted, and admired, and it often seems that the easiest way to win approval is to ally ourselves with others. When we assume that our standards are the same as those of the people close to us without first examining our own intentions, we do ourselves a disservice. The barriers that exist between us are a reminder that our paths in life will be unique, and we must each accept that “I” and “we” can coexist peacefully. Our reactions, our likes and dislikes, our loves, our goals, and our dreams may or may not align with those of others, but we should neither ask others to embrace what we hold dear nor feel compelled to embrace what they hold dear.
As you learn to define yourself as an emotionally and intellectually distinct individual, you will grow to appreciate your autonomy. However much you enjoy the associations that bind you to others and provide you with a sense of identity, your concept of self will ultimately originate in your own soul. The healthy barriers that tell you where you end and the people around you begin will give you the freedom to pursue your development apart from those whose approval you might otherwise be tempted to seek out. Others will continue to play a role in your existence, but their values will not direct its course, and the relationships you share will remain marvelously balanced and harmonious as a result.