Setting boundaries are difficult and uncomfortable. It is no walk in the park for most of us, but setting boundaries helps us establish healthy relationships. It also allows us to build a strong sense of self-worth. Boundaries are essential for thriving relationships and overall healthy life.
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What does it mean to set boundaries?
By definition, boundaries are a “psychological demarcation that protects an individual’s integrity that helps a person set realistic limits on participation in a relationship or activity.”
Setting boundaries in a relationship or with someone are guidelines, rules, or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe, and permissive ways for others to behave towards them. It shows others what we find acceptable and unacceptable in their behavior towards us. The purpose is to protect and take care of yourself.
Setting boundaries isn’t selfish or mean
As aforementioned, establishing and maintaining boundaries with friends or partners can be challenging because we often think about what others may say or how they would react. We also worry about how they would feel or relate to us after we set these limits. To save face, we put on a happy face even though our energy is being drained on the inside.
Do not feel that having boundaries is selfish or mean; it is the opposite. Creating boundaries means honoring ourselves as a separate individual with needs and wants that differs from others. Without healthy boundaries, we allow others to invalidate our feelings and desires. Setting these limits is an integral part of establishing one’s identity and is a crucial aspect of our mental health overall well-being.
The word “boundary” can be misleading and interpreted the wrong way because it is perceived as wanting to keep to yourself. But boundaries help to provide healthy rules for navigating relationships, intimate, platonic, or professional.
Boundaries to set within yourself
The ability to know and set your boundaries generally comes from a healthy sense of self-worth and self-value. It is not based on people and the feelings they have towards you. Instead, you are saying to yourself, “This is okay me, and this is what I am not okay with. I will not cross this line.” If self-worth is something you struggle with, learning to set boundaries will help you find the value in who you are.
Here are some boundaries you can set:
- Set a routine to have “Me” time.
- Detox from social media periodically.
- Try to avoid people who hurt you, cause stress, frustration, and negativity.
- Understand that you cannot be everything and anything for everyone.
- Refrain from doing work after work hours.
- Try to keep a regular sleep and wake routine.
- Say “no” and be okay with it.
- Work on managing your time to avoid ‘burn-out.’
Can you think of other boundaries you can set for yourself?
Benefits of having boundaries
Everyone is unique and has different values, opinions, and beliefs. Therefore everyone’s boundaries will be unique. The boundaries you create and set for yourself will emulate your needs and priorities and ultimately positively impact your life.
So let’s get into these benefits, shall we?
It conserves your energy
When you are always on the go for others, you leave little to no time for yourself. Your energy is the power and ability to be physically and mentally active and healthy. With boundaries, you are setting a limit with others that will help you preserve enough energy to care for yourself after. Boundaries you set with others will vary depending on the situation or a person, but creating boundaries will protect you from draining your energy before using it on others. This will give your life the potency, power, and capacity to possess qualities like determination, passion, tranquility, dedication, patience, and persistence.
It helps you maintain your individuality
Your identity may easily get lost when you are in a relationship (professional, intimate, platonic). Your interests and goals may start to change and reflect that of the other person. Setting boundaries helps you to maintain your identity in any relationship. If you are not setting clear boundaries, the lines can become blurred, and your individuality will get lost.
Its shows growth and maturity
When you set clear boundaries and decide which situations you are comfortable with and which ones you are not, you learn more about your wants and needs, and how you can better take of you. This brings growth and maturity, and as a result, you will then be able to make decisions with confidence and turn your energy towards things that add value to your life.
You learn to put yourself first
Taking time out of your busy schedule to take care of you is not often easy. Life can get very demanding and overwhelming at times. Saying “no” isn’t easy, but it is necessary from time to time. Creating boundaries helps you to take care of yourself first. It shows that you value your feelings and needs and are not responsible for how others feel or behave. With boundaries, you keep yourself from overextending yourself.
It creates a safety net
As emotional beings, we can easily be hurt and disappointed by people and things in life. Having limits helps to creates an emotional safety net between you and others by keeping out what makes you feel uncomfortable and hurt.
It creates realistic expectations and limit resentment
Communicating clear boundaries can be challenging to do. But with practice comes permanence. When people know what to expect and what you are not comfortable with, it leaves little room for resentment and anger to grow. Boundaries are not set in stone, they are flexible, but once you are consistent in communicating clear boundaries, the easier it will become.
It’s not easy being taken advantage of. It is not fun! You feel betrayed and let down after someone you trusted wholly abused the relationship. However, you are responsible for deciding how you spend your time and who you spend it with. Don’t be afraid to set your boundaries; otherwise, if you don’t, you will become resentful to others, which will create an atmosphere of negativity, and it will drain your energy. Set that boundary!
It improves your relationship and helps to weed out toxic ones
Yes, I said it! Boundaries improve your relationship with others. It sounds like it may make the relationships detrimental, but it won’t. Trust me on this. It is paramount to keeping a relationship thriving. It is impossible to please everyone … all the time! There must be a balance. Setting limits helps you maintain your identity (as mentioned earlier) because it encourages you to acknowledge that others have limits. It creates structure, and it gives you time to take a moment to disconnect, reflect, and recharge.
On the other hand, not all relationships are meant to last, and with setting limits, you have to come to terms that not all relationships will survive these boundaries that you make. Guess what? That is okay!
It sounds harsh and cruel, but would you drain all your soul to continuously meet others’ needs that are not adding value to your life? I think not! If you have no boundaries in your life, you may have people around you who are just using you to their advantage. People who like to take advantage of others tend to cling to those with weak or no boundaries. So believe it or not, some of your friends are only with you because you don’t say no and you simply just go with the flow all the time.
You are deserving of a healthy and thriving relationship, so set those boundaries!
How can you go about establishing boundaries?
There is no rulebook on creating boundaries, because they are a deeply personal choice that varies from person to person. Your boundaries are shaped by many factors, such as religion, life experiences, family dynamics, culture, and your temperament. So making boundaries won’t always be comfortable and easy (understandably – we are only humans!), but here are some tips that can help you to start setting clear boundaries.
- Remember that your mental health is important.
- Understand that you have rights too.
- The only person you can control is YOU. You cannot control a person’s thoughts, actions, or feelings.
- Be clear about what you want, what you are comfortable with, and what lines you may not be willing to cross when communicating with others.
- Have a level of self-awareness of your values and beliefs.
- Be direct, be honest, and be transparent. Don’t feel like you have to apologize for your needs.
- Trust your gut. Your instinct can help determine when someone is violating or devaluing you.
- Understand that you cannot please everyone and be okay with that.
- Be assertive and safeguard your space.
- Expect resistance and negative feedback. If this happens, don’t let this break you.
- Setting boundaries is an on-going process that changes and evolves all the time.