©Arlene R. Taylor PhD

The concept of boundaries is not new. The process of developing them continues to be challenging, however. Webster's defines boundaries as something that indicates or fixes limits. Personal limits are tools necessary for surviving safely in a frenetic world. It’s been estimated that at least half of all the problems humans encounter in life are of their own making based on the way they think. Often those problems are related to boundary issues. Individuals with healthy appropriate boundaries are able to know, understand, and state their personal limits as well as their family limits.

Although human beings are born with virtually no boundaries, they have the ability to learn to set healthy limits, a process that should begin at a very early age. Children absorb information about boundaries from watching their care providers and role models just as they learn almost everything else in infancy.

Think back to your childhood? Were you allowed, even encouraged to say the word no or was that concept relegated to the vocabulary of your care providers? If so, it may be difficult for you to use that word in adulthood. In fact, there are some who believe that it is relatively impossible to say 'yes' in adulthood with awareness and responsibility unless that same adult first learned how to say 'no' appropriately.

Were you expected to say yes to whatever your parents, teachers, or care providers wanted you to do? If so you may have found yourself agreeing to things you really didn’t want to do. Two of the shortest words in the English language are yes and no, and yet they’re often the ones that require the most thought before they’re said.

Creating and consistently implementing bona fide boundaries can offer many benefits. To list just a few, they can:

  • Help you achieve your potential
  • Promote healthier relationships
  • Allow for genuine intimacy
  • Offer some level of safety and protection
  • Decrease victim and offender behaviors
  • Diminish discomfort and dysfunction
  • Promote a more balanced use of your brain’s resources

Boundaries can to too tight, too loose, or nonexistent in any number of areas (e.g., physical, intellectual, emotional, sexual, spiritual, social, financial). It is critically important to evaluate, develop, and consistently implement appropriate personal boundaries. They are faces we show to the world.

Learning to develop, implement consistently, and live within appropriate personal limits is a lifelong process. This process and your own emphasis can differ based on your innate brain bent.

altPrioritizing Division

altEnvisioning Division


Individuals with a brain bent in this division tend to use boundaries as tools to help them achieve their goals.

  • They tend to set their boundaries based on the evaluation of available data. If the data is incomplete or does not exist, they may set boundaries that are inappropriate
  • They may act as if their boundaries are the gold standard, and expect others to conform (this may be especially true in an abuser stance)
  • They may implement boundaries objectively, decisively, and authoritatively (even coercively and abusively) and expect others to obey or conform to their position
  • They may be the most likely to be able to “just say no”


Individuals with a brain bent in this division tend to use boundaries to protect the self. They prefer to avoid conflict although can deal with it in situations when others raise objections about boundaries. If the conflict continues, these individuals often will take steps to distance themselves emotional and/or physically from the conflict (especially if they choose to maintain their own personal boundaries).

  • They tend to be somewhat unstructured about their boundaries and develop only those that they perceive to be absolutely needed
  • They may adjust their boundaries based on situational or environmental contexts so may appear inconsistent at times
  • They dislike and try to avoid boundaries that are perceived to be excessively rigid or even unnecessary and generally avoid pushing others to set boundaries (although they can be charismatically enthusiastic when trying to talk someone else into taking a specific boundary position)
  • They may say “let’s take the risk” (although they can be equally definite about refused to take the risk)


altMaintaining Division

altHarmonizing Division


Individuals with a brain bent in this division tend to use boundaries to maintain the status quo and to help them feel safer.

  • They tend to set boundaries based on what they were taught, learned on their own, or on what they have observed to exhibited traditionally or historically
  • They tend to perpetuate and honor established boundaries, and expect others to do the same
  • They tend to adjust their boundaries to fit into the established environment
  • They may be rigid and stubborn in implementation of their selected boundaries and may invoke “rules and regulations” in an attempt to get others to conform to their perception of what is necessary


Individuals with a brain bent in this division tend to use boundaries to conform to expectations.

  • They tend to set (or not set) boundaries based on what is happening in their peer group or with close family and friends or with what is in harmony with family and friends
  • They may violate personal boundaries in order to avoid disharmony or increase connectedness (victim stance), and can find it very difficult to “just say no”
  • They may underestimate the value of boundaries, and may struggle to develop appropriate boundaries (over a lifetime)
  • They may be affronted when others implement personal boundaries (especially if their perception is that this creates any type of conflict or interferes with desired connection) although they themselves can become 'offenders' in terms of imposing their preferences on others (sometimes in a perceived attempt to care for or stay close to family and friends)