Business, Community & Government, Wellness

Establishing Boundaries

Esther Perel

Lesson time 14:15 min

Boundaries define our relationships. Esther describes the different types of boundaries and how to identify and negotiate them in both your personal and professional lives.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Identify Your Personal Boundaries • Identify Boundaries in the Workplace • Accept Others’ Boundaries • Be Aware of Dysfunctional Boundaries • Negotiate Shifting Boundaries • Try This Essential Practice: Reflect on Your Own Boundaries


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Every relationship is defined by its boundaries. Every human being is defined by its boundaries. What is me, and what is not me? What is inside of me, and what is outside of me? In this chapter, we're going to talk about personal boundaries and work boundaries. So what is a boundary? A boundary is a container so that you know what stays inside, what belongs here in terms of content, material, feelings, information, secrets, you name it. It's a container. And at its best, a boundary becomes a safe container so that I can comfortably live inside of this. That is the most important definition around boundaries, is about connection and separateness. It's about letting people in and opening up or about limiting and creating separateness and knowing where you stop and where the other starts so that not everything becomes a part of you. Sometimes there is this misconception that if people have boundaries, it prevents them from connecting. But actually, it is because there are boundaries between people that there is a sense of how the connection actually gets made as these people come closer to each other. If there were no boundaries, it may be one person melding into another, but that is not a connection. That is a fusion. [MUSIC PLAYING] What does it mean when people say I have good boundaries or I don't have good boundaries? It's a colloquial thing, but what do people actually mean with that? Is it a matter of I take responsibility for things that I shouldn't, or I remain too indifferent about things that actually should be my responsibility, but I stay away from them? Do I take on other people's feelings too much, as if they are my problem, or do I actually stay away, and I don't know enough how to connect and blend myself with another person's experience because I am so separate? I think the best image for a boundary in relationship is our skin. If our skin didn't have pores and couldn't breathe and take things in from the outside, it would dry off and die. If our skin is opened, it has wounds all the time, then it cannot function either because it gets hurt. So it needs small holes that allow the external environment to feed it. And at the same time, it is tight enough that it can protect everything that is inside. I use the skin because it is the most important boundary that lives on us. A relationship has a boundary. It is the skin that envelops it. And sometimes, that boundary can be very porous, very permeable. Everything can enter-- everybody else's opinion, everything can suddenly shake it. And sometimes, it has a good membrane that something comes in, you check it, you decide if it's going to go in, or you decide to not let it come in. Or relationships can have very tight boundaries around it. Nobody can enter, no other opinion, no other person. It's really close to the world outside. So boundaries are either permeable or soft, flexible membranes or very rigid envelopes. ...

About the Instructor

Known for her innovative approach to love and relationships, Esther Perel is sharing her methods for building deeper connections with every person in your life. Whether it’s with your partner or project manager, you’ll learn how rethinking the basic principles of intimacy, communication, and trust can improve the quality of your life in the bedroom, boardroom, and beyond.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Esther Perel

Renowned psychotherapist Esther Perel teaches you the power—and the art—of connecting with others.

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