Boundaries are the rules of engagement in all of our relationships . . . or at least they should be.
Boundaries are established to protect ourselves and others in our relationships. These rules of engagement may be written, spoken, or unspoken. They also cover a wide array of interactions such as physical touch, language and tone in communication, actions we will or will not take, and topics of conversation that we will or will not entertain. We should have different boundaries in different relationships as they are needed. For example you may welcome a hug from your mother but not your boss.
We will not always understand the personal history or choice of others in how or why they establish their boundaries, but these boundaries must always be respected. We must respect our own boundaries and the boundaries of others without condition or judgement. We should not use boundaries as a weapon but instead should speak our truth when setting boundaries and not demean their importance by using harsh or barbed language.
So how do you know when a boundary has been crossed?
Your body reacts.
Many of us have turned off this awareness over time. We received messages that we should not hurt the feelings of others, that we "shouldn't feel that way", that we are "over-reacting". Gradually, over time, the feeling in the pit of our stomach, the tension in our throat, the constriction in our chest is ignored. Sometimes this is so profound that our bodies turn on themselves and we start to have pains or in the most severe cases even the development of autoimmune disorders.
Start to pay attention to how your body reacts to interactions with others. Listen to it. Allow it to inform you if a boundary is needed. Study the situation and find a boundary that will address your need. No one can do this for you . . . remember, happiness is an inside job.