Setting boundaries is an important part of overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being. They help us limit the energy we spend on others, so that we can conserve it and maintain our own mental health. Boundaries are basically imaginary lines that separate you from others physically, emotionally and mentally. We all need them because we need to be able to define our own limits.. and let others know where they lie, so that our relationships with others can thrive.
“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” ~
It’s easy to understand how we all have physical boundaries— especially during the pandemic.. Six feet is common courtesy for those we aren’t familiar with. Even with people we know, it’s important to outline limits. Some people love receiving hugs, and others don’t like being touched. Neither is right or wrong, but it’s important to clearly communicate what your boundaries are.
The other boundaries you should have can sometimes seem a little blurry. They can look different for everyone, so communication regarding them is a must. This can be hard, especially for those of us who are “people pleasers” because setting a boundary can feel selfish.. But it is a need! Conserving your energy by setting boundaries can change your life!
Emotional boundaries with friends and family can come in many forms. A person may put up a boundary with their friends if they are trying to quit drinking: that they don’t want to be invited out to bars, or be offered alcohol at other events. Other boundaries of yours can be off-limit conversations. For example, if when you attend a family get-together, and your family always asks you when you’re getting married or having children.. If you aren’t comfortable discussing that, you can request that these topics are off-limits and ask to talk about other things. You can set boundaries for any subject that causes tension or makes you uncomfortable.
Professional boundaries are also important. This can look different for every profession. Maybe answering emails on weekends crosses a line. Maybe being online friends with coworkers or other people from your workplace is crossing a boundary— it truly depends on the situation (if you’re a teacher or other professional, there’s a line you’ll have with your students or clients that keeps things professional instead of personal). Outlining these boundaries upon meeting new people in your workplace is essential.
“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.” ~Mandy Hale
Here’s some tips to help you Take Back your Power and figure out your boundaries and how to set them:
Identify areas in your life where you feel you need boundaries. Think about your relationships with others. Maybe sometimes you avoid certain people because you’re worried they’ll ask you for something. Maybe you need more boundaries with work and what you allow others to ask of you.
- Once you identify where you want to place boundaries, the next step is to physically write them down. It’s easy to think about boundaries or say them out loud. It’s also easy to become relaxed with your boundaries or forget that they exist when they aren’t set in stone. Write them down!
- Communicate them to the people who need to hear them. For example, you could say to your family, “I don’t like it when you come over without asking, I need some time to myself after work, please ask me if I’m feeling up for it before you come.” If it’s easier to send a text or email, make sure you do so when you’re in a calm state, and not when you’re frustrated that a boundary is crossed.
- Give people some time to respect your boundaries. Be patient, because sometimes it takes awhile for others to unlearn certain behaviors. If they don’t make an effort and continue to break your boundary, you will need to set reasonable consequences for breaking them. If others want to have a good relationship with you, they will learn to respect your boundaries. If they can’t, it might be time to reconsider whether this person or relationship is bringing happiness to your life or causing you too much stress.
“Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices.” ~Gerard Manley Hopkins
It is not selfish or rude to identify, set, and enforce your own boundaries. It’s healthy! It’s also a learned behavior and takes practice. With time, you will get better at it, and you will discover what boundaries you need with your friends, family, and co-workers. In creating your own boundaries, it’s also important to acknowledge the boundaries that others set around you and to be aware of how to respect them. When we respect each other’s boundaries, we all thrive!