When we establish healthy boundaries, it defines clearly what is appropriate behavior in our relationships – intimate, friendship, professional, etc. This practice is crucial for self-care and positive functional relationships. Each person is unique as to how those boundaries are formed and are influenced by gender, culture, personality, and social context. Setting boundaries defines our expectations of ourselves and others in different kinds of relationships.
BENEFITS OF HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
- Good Mental Health
- Good Emotional Health
- Developed Autonomy
- Developed Identity
- Avoidance of Burnout
- Influence Others’ Behavior
HOW TO SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
Boundaries are being clear about our expectations of ourselves and others and it covers what we are and are not comfortable with in specific situations. Setting healthy boundaries requires self-awareness and good communication skills. Express your feelings openly and respectfully, not making demands, and people will listen to you.
Three easy steps to setting healthy boundaries:
- Be as clear and as straightforward as possible. Do not raise your voice.
- State your need or request directly in terms of what you’d like, rather than what you don’t want or like.
- Accept any discomfort that arises as a result, whether it’s guilt, shame, or remorse.
- Challenge for people with poor boundaries, codependency issues, people pleasers.
- Some people are raised to believe that expressing their needs is bad and selfish.
- Not accepting the discomfort that comes from setting healthy boundaries in adulthood means settling for unhealthy relationships that can cause resentment, manipulation, and abuse.
Setting healthy boundaries also requires an awareness of different boundaries involved in relationships. Here are 7 types of boundaries.
- Freedom to have your own thoughts, values, and opinions.
- “I respect your perspective although I do not agree.”
- How emotionally available you are to others.
- “As much as I want to support you right now, I do not have the emotional capacity.”
- Monetary decisions, giving or lending to others.
- “I already lent you money last week, so not again right now.”
- Self-regulation, energy expended on self vs. others.
- “I have been social all week, I need the weekend to myself.”
- Topics that you do and do not feel comfortable discussing.
- “I would rather not be a part of this conversation.”
- Privacy, personal space, your body
- “I prefer not to hug people I do not know.”
- How much time you spend with someone or doing something
- “I can only stay for 30 minutes.”
Examples of some of these in action are:
- Declining anything you don’t want to do
- Expressing your feelings responsibly
- Talking about your experiences honestly
- Replying in the moment
- Addressing problems directly with the person involved, rather than with a third party
- Making your expectations clear rather than assuming people will figure them out.
DIFFERENT RELATIONSHIP BOUNDARIES
PERSONAL AND EMOTIONAL
There are times in our life we need support emotionally whether it is an unexpected event or just daily life stressors. We would like to be available for people we care about in these situations, but we can’t always be there as we often have other priorities to attend to. Self-care is a critical part of health, while putting others’ needs before our own is a characteristic of codependency that can lead to burnout. When we don’t maintain healthy emotional boundaries with others, we may feel resentful, guilty, and drained. If people push back against your boundaries or continue to violate them, then this shows your relationship may be off balance, problematic, or even toxic.
Restate your boundary simply and unapologetically because everyone has a right to say what they do and do not want to do. Reassessment of a relationship is necessary when they repeatedly violate our personal boundaries.
HOW TO SET PERSONAL BOUNDARIES
- Define – Identify desired boundary
- Communicate – Say what you need
- Stay Simple – Don’t overexplain
- Set Consequences – Say why it’s important
This requires the above personal boundaries partnered with three requirements for healthy friendships: Positivity, Consistency, & Vulnerability
Setting boundaries and maintaining them with friends requires mutual trust and respect.
Healthy intimate partnerships have clear communication between partners about mutual needs and expectations. Using the personal and emotional guidelines, take these extra steps:
- Be brave enough to share your emotions with your partner.
- Learn to articulate what you expect and be ready to compromise.
- Be honest about your limitations and ask for help. You can’t do everything for everyone.
- Ask for free time from your partner. It is unhealthy to spend all your time together.
The workplace is a much trickier situation when trying to maintain healthy boundaries because we now have flexible work schedules, remote and hybrid options, and better technology. Once you have set boundaries at work, if you find your boundaries are repeatedly crossed or violated, then you may be being bullied or harassed.
The below are some tips on setting these boundaries.
- Be clear about your personal boundaries.
- Communicate directly, upfront, and professional. Let people know when you are available and how you handle emails outside work hours.
- Create clear structures for your work, especially times for focused work, by letting your colleagues know when you do not want to be disturbed.
- Keep your relationships professional. Boundaries can become blurred when blending 2 or more relationship types.
- Delegate work when appropriate to manage your workload.
- Get comfortable saying no.
- Take time off.
- Use technology to set and maintain work boundaries, by keeping others informed and using shareable project management tools.
Setting healthy boundaries is an important self-care practice and creates healthy relationships.
When you are not used to setting boundaries, you might feel guilty or selfish when they first start but keep in mind it is necessary for mental health and wellbeing.
Different relationships require different boundaries which include parents, children, romantic partners, managers, coworkers, and anyone else we interact with.
Reach out if you need help.