“When someone expresses a boundary to me, I say thank you for being authentic, vulnerable and transparent. Thank you for modeling personal integrity. Thank you for helping me to understand how to love and care for you. Thank you for this opportunity to grow more in intimacy.” – Maryam Hasnaa
Many people have heard the word “boundaries”, but they have no idea what boundaries really are. You might think of boundaries as a property line, a fence, or a STOP THERE sign to keep people out.
So, what are boundaries anyway?
Personal boundaries are the limits you decide work for you on how people can treat you, how they can behave around you, and what they can expect from you. Boundaries are a way to take care of ourselves. When you understand how to set and preserve healthy boundaries, you can avoid the feelings of bitterness, disappointment, and anger that build up when limits have been pushed.
Boundaries are the standards you set about your expectations, accessibility and energy. They are drawn from your core beliefs, your perspective, your opinions and your values.
Boundaries communicate how you feel, they prevent you from overcommitting, and they are your guide to help others know how you want to be treated.
Why do I need boundaries?
- Do you feel like people take advantage of you?
- Do you hate drama but seem to always have it around you?
- Do you feel like you are constantly having to “save” people or be the “nice one” because that’s just “who you are”?
- Do you feel like it’s your job to fix other people’s problems?
- Do you feel like you have to explain yourself or defend yourself for things that aren’t your fault?
If you answered yes to anything above, you probably have a little work to do on setting personal boundaries.
Boundaries is a form of self-care. If you don’t set healthy boundaries, you are setting yourself up to feel used, overworked, stressed, frustrated and unhappy. Having boundaries isn’t bitchy, it’s actually an act of self-love.
There are 5 different areas to consider when
setting your boundaries.
- Physical. This refers to your body and your personal space. You might be someone who is comfortable with hugs or someone standing close to you when speaking—even whispering in your ear in a loud room. Or you might be someone who prefers not to be touched and enforce social distancing.
- Intellectual. These boundaries concern your thoughts and beliefs. Intellectual boundaries are not disregarded when someone dismisses another person’s ideas, beliefs, and opinions.
- Emotional. This refers to a person’s emotions, thoughts and feelings. You might not feel comfortable sharing your everything with a friend, coworker or partner, that is ok!
- Sexual. These are your expectations concerning intimacy. Not just physical but also sexual comments.
- Financial. This one is about money. Not lending money to a friend or family member.
When you begin establishing or reevaluating your boundaries, be sure to take each one into account. Don’t forget, other people have boundaries too, and they will most likely express those to you at some point and just as you want others to respect your boundaries, respecting other’s boundaries is just as important. Accept when others tell you “no”.
So how do you do it?
- DEFINE: Tune into your feelings and ask yourself, “What are my own limits? What is something that I don’t want to tolerate in my life?” Think of a situation where you felt you weren’t setting boundaries. What happened in that situation? What feelings did you have surrounding that situation? What would you do differently? How would you feel if you expressed your boundaries in said situation?
- COMMUNICATION: Learning to say no can be very hard, especially if it’s not the way you were raised or it’s nothing you have implemented in your life. It’s not going to feel natural at first and as with many things, it will take practice.
If you are not familiar with setting boundaries in your life, start small. A great way to strengthen your confidence is to start with a non-threatening boundary that doesn’t feel overwhelming. For example, walking away from a conversation where your co-worker lights up a cigarette because you don’t want to be around cigarette smoke.
Starting small allows you to slowly build upon your confidence to tackle more challenging boundaries.
Research shows us that blurred boundaries, particularly between work and home life, are linked to lower levels of happiness.
Remember, You Got This!
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