Do you have trouble establishing healthy boundaries? Not sure? Well, have you ever felt like you can’t say NO to people? Or that you’re afraid to get others upset, bring up something bothering you, speak up for what you want or afraid of what others might think?
If so, don’t despair as you are not alone!
I used to be like that: struggling to speak up for what was best for me, firmly set my own limits and basically just always worrying about making everyone else happy and what they thought.
If this sounds like you too, then don’t worry: the good news is that establishing healthy boundaries is a skill that can (and must) be learned.
First let’s get clear on what I mean by a “boundary”.
Wikipedia defines a “personal boundary” as:
Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.
We all want to be liked and approved of. As social beings it’s in our DNA to not want to be alone or ostracized from the tribe for fear of death. If you grew up always trying to be “a good girl/boy” or “nice” – and often at the expense of yourself and your well-being and what you really want – then most likely you have a boundary issue and are also living with the negative ramifications. These can include:
- Feeling “put upon”
- Stressed out
- Poor self-esteem
- Lack of confidence
Having strong personal boundaries both requires, and nurtures, healthy self-esteem and strong and fulfilling relationships. As social psychologist Brene Brown has put it:
The most compassionate people are also the most boundaried.
And this is why I’m sharing this with you: because setting healthy boundaries is ESSENTIAL for establishing a healthy personal identity and for stepping into your power. It is crucial for your mental health and well being and is required for you to ever be able to truly feel fulfilled as a person and to express your true self and your creative offering to the world – whether that be through your work, relationships, children or whatever feeds your soul! AND it’s essential for having self-respect and self-trust. If we always feel like we are compromising ourselves and our own needs and desires and stiffing our voice due to a lack of boundaries, then we can’t respect who we are as a person and we won’t be able to trust ourselves when the going gets tough.
But I get it, establishing those boundaries is not an easy task for those of us who have grown up over-caring what other’s think.
So here are some examples of how to lay down a clear boundary:
- In a teacher-student relationship, a teacher might set healthy boundaries by choosing to keep their personal lives separate from their professional lives.
- Therapists can set clinical boundaries by choosing not to connect with their clients on social media.
- In relationships, someone might choose not to share their phone password with someone else to maintain some privacy.
- A mother can ask her partner to take on more responsibility with the child (such as bathing them, taking them to the park, and so on) so she can have some time to herself.
You see, boundary-setting can be a very positive action to take and these are the reasons why I love them so much:
- You become less stressed from trying to please others.
- You can take better care of yourself.
- You grant yourself the gift of space and time.
- You can invest in the relationships that you care about.
- You will start doing things with the right intention.
- You expect less from others so you avoid getting disappointed easily.
- You become a better communicator.
- You are simply happier because you can take control of your own emotions and desires.
- You have more energy because life just becomes more authentic and easy because you are living your truth.
Here are some tips on how you can start setting healthy boundaries in your life
- Put yourself first. You have the right to protect your time, health and emotions.
- Have a schedule so you don’t overlap your own daily activities.
- Be direct to avoid misunderstandings.
- Use “I” rather than “you” statements to be clear.
- Never set it discussing your needs or feelings as a confrontation but rather communicating your truth…with love. 🙂
And if you still have a hard time recognizing your boundaries, here are 3 sentences to help create a framework for what they might look like, taken from Stand Up for Your Life, by Cheryl Richardson.
It’s not okay for people to:
- Make comments about my weight
- Go through my personal belongings
- Ask me for last minute favors when I am busy
I have a right to ask for:
- Respect from others
- More information before making a purchase
To protect my time and energy, it’s OK to:
- Turn my phone on silent
- Change my mind
- Cancel a commitment when I’m not feeling well
You’ll see that once you begin to cultivate self-knowledge about what your boundaries are, you can begin to implement them in your life. Once you implement boundaries in your life, you’ll notice that you have more time and energy for the people you want to connect with, the things you want to do, the ideas you want to explore, the ways you want to give, for everything.
You’ll notice you feel more like yourself…finally! 🙂
Have you tried creating your own set of boundaries? How have they impacted your life? Please share below on the comments section – I’d love to know!