Healthy Boundaries: Bridges to Authentic Connection

Apr 30, 2024

Greetings to all fellow seekers of healing and self-discovery,

Establishing healthy boundaries is an important aspect of healing developmental trauma and making authentic connections with others. As children, we’re often not taught what empowerment entails or how to freely express our needs without fear of punishment, control, or belittlement. On top of this, we’re frequently shamed for our authentic expressions; we’re told we’re not good enough, too loud, too much, or too energetic. This shame hinders our ability to communicate our truths. It also often intertwines with other emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and immobilization, which obstruct our capacity to freely see and express who we are and what we want.

Shame freezes us. It prevents us from speaking up, and can manifest in overwhelming bodily sensations such as heat flushing the face or constricting the breath. In this state of shame, we view ourselves as unworthy and lacking self-esteem. This leads us to withdraw or shrink ourselves, essentially believing we don’t deserve to be empowered beings.

Understanding and maintaining boundaries in relationships is a skill that requires practice and awareness. Psychologically, boundaries serve to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Similar to how the earth isn’t naturally marked by land borders, it’s up to each person to set their own boundaries. This can be as straightforward as saying “No.” As social beings, we’re instinctively driven to find our place in society; our relationships – with friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and romantic partners – are of paramount importance to us. As innately social beings, it is our responsibility to unearth and (re)discover our voice, and express who we really are.

In the following sections, we will explore different types of boundaries. This will prompt you to consider what you need and want, as well as how you can effectively establish and express your boundaries.

  1. Emotional Boundaries: These boundaries separate one’s emotions from those of others. They involve recognizing and respecting one’s own feelings while also setting limits on how much others’ emotions influence them.
  2. Mental Boundaries: Mental boundaries entail differentiating between one’s own thoughts, beliefs, and values and those of others. It involves maintaining clarity in one’s thinking and not allowing others’ opinions to overly influence one’s mental state.
  3. Time Boundaries: These refer to the ability to manage and allocate time effectively, setting limits on various activities, prioritizing tasks, and respecting one’s need for rest and personal time.
  4. Material/Financial Boundaries: Managing resources such as money, possessions, and personal space involves setting limits on shared belongings, managing finances responsibly, and respecting others’ ownership and boundaries when it comes to their material possessions.
  5. Internal Boundaries: These pertain to maintaining a sense of self and personal identity, recognizing and respecting one’s own needs, desires, and values, without compromising them for others’ expectations.
  6. Physical and Sexual Boundaries: Recognizing and respecting bodily autonomy and personal space is key, setting limits on physical contact, intimacy, and communicating consent in sexual interactions.
  7. Conversational Boundaries: Communication and interaction with others involve setting limits on conversation topics, respecting privacy, and asserting oneself when feeling uncomfortable or pressured.


When we suppress our expressions, we struggle to set clear boundaries. This suppression manifests in our bodies, often stored in our throat, neck, shoulders, jaw, or chest. All the times we wanted to say “No,” or to assert ourselves, this suppression often boils inside. Locked inside, it entwines with anger or rage, it can easily bind with shame, and this makes it even more difficult to express ourselves, because we fear our own boiled up response.

That said, anger can be a constructive emotion if we learn to separate it from shame and harness its pure energy. By embracing anger without fear, we can establish healthy boundaries, speak our truth, and voice our dislikes.We must befriend anger, allowing ourselves to feel it without shame, checking in with what we need in the moment. When anger arises, it could indicate that our boundaries were crossed, prompting us to assess the situation and assert our needs. Setting boundaries also requires self-awareness, understanding our needs and desires. This is important for us all, but it is vital for those with a history of abuse, as it takes time to establish healthy boundaries and awareness.

Shame often accompanies interpersonal traumatic events inflicted upon us by others. Healing involves expressing the trapped feelings in a safe space within our bodies, creating a counter-vortex of resourcing, grounding, and centering with our inner adult. Unbinding shame from trapped emotions allows for their expression and release, connecting with the wounded child’s needs to complete the cycle of past experiences. This process requires a compassionate and supportive environment, facilitated by skilled therapists, either individually or in a group setting, to foster interpersonal connection and healing.

Now, let me share some additional tools I personally use for working with boundaries within the framework of Stroke Economy. Healthy Stroke Economy is eloquently described by Eric Berne, the founder of Transactional Analysis, who coined the term “stroke” as a unit of recognition. This means that every time we make eye contact with someone and acknowledge them, we give them a stroke, a unit of recognition. Strokes can come in various forms—positive or negative, verbal or non-verbal, conditional or unconditional.

  1. Give Strokes to Others.
  2. Ask for Strokes You Want.
  3. Accept Strokes You Want.
  4. Reject Strokes You Don’t Want.
  5. Give Strokes to Yourself.


Understanding my Stroke Economy through this practice has been instrumental in mapping my boundaries. Coupled with unbinding shame from anger and fear, this practice can be transformative. It can empower you to reclaim your power too. Reflect on your own “Healthy Stroke Economy” over the next few days, take notes, which aspects feel comfortable and which ones less so.

With heartfelt compassion and dedication,

Nisarga Eryk Dobosz – BBTRS, BCST, CI, MER, LOMI

About Nisarga Eryk Dobosz:

Nisarga is an esteemed member of the BBTRS®️ faculty and holds expertise in Compassionate Inquiry, along with being a practitioner of Myofascial Energetic Release and Biodynamic Craniosacral techniques. His passion lies in global teaching and group facilitation. Nisarga reveres the human body as a sacred temple, advocating its treatment with the highest degree of respect and admiration. This philosophy underpins his work, resulting in a pinnacle of true craftsmanship rooted in a profound desire to comprehend and trust the body’s boundless potential for self-regulation and self-healing.

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