Values Define Boundaries. I stated this without thinking about the implications as I was providing group supervision to the therapists in my Associate Clinical Social Worker group. I had been talking about the concepts of differentiation – or the ability to have a clear and healthy sense of self that is not constantly at the mercy of the thoughts and opinions of others. A sense of self that stays solid even in the face of adversity, dislike, and disagreement. The moment I said it one of the therapists wrote it down in that moment of “AHA!”. This opened up a window for her, someone who typically accommodates to others when people get upset; she has been practicing setting clear boundaries with clear and assertive communication. The challenge is – that to be able to do this you need to know your own values clearly. I have many areas in which my own personal preferences are mild. These are areas where my own values do not generally “define a course of action”. You can call me names all day long and I will probably just think you need some support since your sense of self seems to focus on attempting to exert power by trying to dis-empower another person. However, if you were to start calling my daughter names my value of reputation might emerge and if my sense of self is diffuse I might then choose to attack you and call you names – to create a boundary by wielding a bigger stick. Alternatively I might find my value of “Family” and “Protection” rise up and rush my daughter out of there and focus only on escape – and to create a boundary through physical space. However there is a third alternative where, if I saw clearly you were no physical danger, I could then assess that you were no actual danger to any of my values or boundaries and I could use that moment to enhance my own daughter’s sense of self – perhaps simply noting that while others might try to degenerate her through out her life, she has the power to remember that who she is doesn’t change because someone else wants her to believe she is less. And I could set a boundary using the value of Self-Respect without having to force the boundary on someone else or attempt to create run by escaping. Values do define boundaries. What I just wrote is the tip of that iceberg. How do your values define your boundaries?