The most powerful expression of a boundary is the word "NO." For many it's an easy word to use. For others, it can be tremendously challenging.
For many, the word "NO" typically started early, around 1-3 years old, when we began to walk, talk, and realize that we had this independence and how this phenomenal word "NO" could be so powerful.
Using the word "NO" gave us the opportunity to drive adults and caregivers to a state of madness. Ever heard of "the terrible twos?" How that expression of boundaries was received was very different for each of us.
If the word "NO" was received in a healthy way, then it may have been honored and reinforced in a way that we learned that it was okay to set a boundary. An "I can" seed was planted for us to cultivate.
On the other hand, if "NO" was not received in a healthy way or not allowed, then boundaries may have been avoided and foreclosed upon. An "I can't" seed was planted.
As we continued our individuation and development across our stages of life and interacted with broader and more complex opportunities to express our boundaries with the outside world we continued to experience reinforcement that cultivated the "I can" or "I can't" seeds of boundaries.
Our relationship with boundaries didn't just evolve with the outside world. We also developed a practice and comfort with setting boundaries for ourselves.
In addition, beyond physical boundaries, examples of internal boundaries that may have developed or been foreclosed upon involve our desires, attitude, feelings, choices, limits, thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, and self-love.
The ongoing challenge that may have existed for many is how internal boundaries were modeled, exchanged, received, validated, or reinforced.
If the "I can't" set boundaries narrative was validated then both internal and external boundaries may have become difficult to implement and practice. Therefore, many may have been left feeling confused and left questioning themselves.
If the "I can '' set boundaries narrative was supported and encouraged then the path to healthy relationships with others and oneself was more than likely.
However you may fall on the spectrum of setting boundaries it can be a helpful exercise to take pause and review any opportunities that may exist where practicing boundaries with yourself or with others may be beneficial.
It's always the right time to plant the seeds of healthy boundaries for yourself and with others.