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#WFH: Emotional Boundaries, What’s the Big Deal?

Emotional boundaries are a little more complicated. When you are at work, you think and act professionally. Why? Because you are a professional and you are at work. The overarching expectation for most work situations is that you act with the best interests of the company in mind and conduct all business accordingly. So you are cold, calculating and on task. Your behaviors are confined to what is appropriate and limited to those people who are part of your business circle. Lovers, family and friends are not part of this environment, so they are not included in how you act at work. These are outside of the scope of work; emotional behaviors are off-limits. You leave your private life at the door and bring only your professional persona into play.

This persona is your business identity or your facade. It is the mask you wear while you do the job. Some people’s business persona is much nicer than their private persona, while others hide private secrets behind their mask. You can’t always tell who is the gambler, the domestic violence victim, the lonely divorcee, the estranged father, or the financially strapped person. Virtual workers are constantly reminded of their situations because the mask is off.

Emotional boundaries are tough, especially with our inner circle. Emotional boundaries are about letting other people push our buttons. How much are you willing to give? How much do you want to be in control of what you feel? Setting emotional boundaries helps us establish healthy relationships and avoid unhealthy, dysfunctional relationships. Unhealthy emotional boundaries cause emotional pain, blame and resentment. When you have weak emotional boundaries, you are greatly affected by others’ words, thoughts, and actions. Weak emotional boundaries will cause you to blame others and give up responsibility for your own feelings. This is often a result of not being taught good healthy emotional boundaries as a child. Nevertheless, emotional boundaries are important when you are at work in the virtual world. You need to be able to say, “No.” Healthy emotional boundaries allow you to follow your own priorities, pursue your own goals and take responsibility for yourself. If you are feeling like a victim, a martyr or a scapegoat you might want to set some emotional boundaries.

We are afraid we will not be liked, accepted, admired, or perfect. We try to be too many things to other people and we forget the most important relationship we have, the one with our self. The more intimate a relationship, the more difficult it is to draw these boundaries. When we don’t establish these relationship boundaries with our clients, bosses, colleagues or family and friends, we put these relationships in jeopardy.

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