Trusting and possessing empathy for others is valiant, but if a person’s good nature is exploited, it may be necessary to resurrect a healthy boundary. A personal boundary is usually a limit or guideline set by an individual who is avoiding mistreatment by another. Establishing a personal boundary after being taken advantage of, deceived, or hurt may preserve a person’s mental health.
For example, say Kayla assists a friend who asks for help with a work issue. Kayla finds herself doing the bulk of the friend’s work and discovers the friend has been claiming Kayla’s work as her own. Kayla decides to establish a healthy boundary with this friend. The next time the friend asks for Kayla’s help, Kayla politely states, “I am so sorry, but I need to protect my work. You can ask our director for help. I know she is an expert in this area.”
The way the friend responds to the boundary may be a barometer of his or her emotional health. The three responses that indicate the person may be manipulative include: