How to Establish BoundariesOct 11, 2022
Most of us know we must set boundaries regarding our personal lives and relationships. But what does that mean, and how do we do it? This blog post will explore the definition of boundaries, why they're essential, and some tips for establishing them in your life.
What it means to have healthy boundaries
A boundary indicates a limit of access or the extent to which the space of something extends. For example, physical boundaries can exist in fences or markers showing that a particular territory extends to what part. It means that something valuable or essential is beyond the edge, and others can't just overstep into them. And like how physical objects can have boundaries, we as people can also have them. However, the main difference is that personal boundaries are invisible and can be difficult to tell.
We may set boundaries because some things are meant to be private, and we can't quickly disclose them to others. There is a limit to how much our personal space extends. Several things in our lives can have set boundaries, such as beliefs, energy, feelings, physical possessions, and time. Setting boundaries means we don't let people intrude easily over the valuable things in our lives, and these people can include coworkers, family members, friends, and strangers.
At first, setting boundaries may look like a way of distancing yourself from others. However, we should understand that each of us wants to have time for ourselves, and we can't just let people in all the time with the various aspects of our lives. Furthermore, without healthy boundaries, we can get prone to being manipulated, taken advantage of, or used by others. We may end up doing more than what we can because we can't say no to others. Personal relationships can also worsen if you let others keep stepping on your boundaries but don't tell others about your limits. So, setting healthy boundaries can improve relationships by clarifying what's allowed and what's not. You also give yourself more time, making you feel well and less stressed. Boundaries can differ in size depending on how tolerant we are about particular things. They are also not static; they can change depending on your life's times and circumstances. Some examples of where you can set boundaries are the following.
Borrowing and using possessions - We all have material possessions, some of which are very personal and valuable. Some of these things we may allow others to borrow and use, such as office supplies like pens or staplers, giving some sticky notes, or letting friends borrow and use hardware tools for repairs. However, some things like smartphones and computers can have many personal and private data, and as such, we may not allow others to use them, hence the use of passwords and security measures. More expensive things like cars may not also be something we can let others borrow and use easily. So we have to clarify to others what is okay to borrow and use from us and what is not.
Time for work and pleasure - Time for work and personal life can get blurry sometimes, especially in a work-from-home setting. Your boss may still send you e-mails at home, asking for favors even when your work hours are already over. You may also indulge in working overtime and doing work-related tasks past your work hours. When such overlaps occur, your work life can start eating at your time for personal relaxation and enjoyment and destroys your work-life balance. It is vital to establish boundaries at work. Tell your boss that you can't get disturbed by work-related matters once you are home and your work shift is over. If you are self-employed or manage your own business, have the discipline and effort that once work time is over, you shouldn't do anything work-related.
Up to what extent your family and friends can pry on your life - Family members and friends are among the closest people we can have in our lives. One may think it is okay for them to interfere and peek, according to a friend and family dynamics, but private parts of our lives are still secret. There are some things we are not comfortable sharing and letting others know, even the closest people in our lives. So it's essential to establish healthy boundaries to what extent they can learn something about you.
Emotional boundaries - People have varying degrees of how much they can tolerate before they get angry. Generally, we all want to feel positive and happy all the time, but certain things can disrupt our emotional state, such as when people say or do particular actions toward us. The problem occurs when others don't know what can irk us, and we don't tell others what they are. Communication is vital here, and when you tell others what is allowable regarding your emotions, do it in a way that won't offend them and make them understand your point.
How to set personal boundaries
1. Identify what you can tolerate
Before setting boundaries, we must know to what extent we can tolerate things regarding various aspects of our lives. For example, to what extent can somebody make a joke about something you like or believe in, or how much can you handle before you get stressed? Give yourself time to think about things that matter to you and give you good feelings. Write them down if you like, such as in a journal. Once you have identified these things, anything that is not included in the list of things that you value can be things that can negatively affect you, including people that cross the line.
2. Communicate and maintain your boundaries with others
After identifying everything you are comfortable with regarding your limits, the hard part is telling others your boundaries. This process is challenging because people can react differently, depending on how you say them. Try to be considerate of others' feelings and tell them respectfully that you can only allow interference from others to a particular extent regarding various things in your life, such as personal values and feelings. If people truly respect and understand you, they will get your point.
Once the communication process goes well, you must consistently maintain boundaries that you established for yourself. For example, when you say "no" to others, be firm with that for every occasion. Don't let yourself slip on your stance, and let others intrude on you occasionally because when that happens, others may interpret that it is okay to bother you and go over personal limits.
3. Learn to say "no."
"No" is a powerful two-lettered word that creates boundaries and clarifies your point to others. Saying it is another thing, though. People can get offended and hurt when they hear this word from you, but they must understand that you have your limits and are not always available to handle matters, especially favors and requests from others. Thankfully, there are ways to say "no" correctly without sounding aggressive or offensive. Once you apply them, you can set healthy boundaries by letting people know how much you can take and do. Your mental health and well-being will be better by not overworking yourself and setting healthy boundaries for your relationships with various people.
Boundaries keep harmony
Creating boundaries is essential in giving us more time to care for ourselves and establishing clear lines for what is allowed and not in relationships. As a result, we conserve our time and energy and prevent conflicts coming from misunderstandings and lack of communication. When establishing boundaries, it is essential to set them early and tell them to people to prevent further intrusions that can cause discomfort. We also need to be flexible enough to adjust our boundaries as time progresses, and our relationships with people and beliefs change. Understanding and being mindful of others' boundaries is also essential because if we want others to respect our boundaries, then we should also do the same for others. People can show various signs and behaviors, giving you a clue about their boundaries. For example, being considerate, mindful, and sensitive can clue you into people's boundaries in case they can't tell you directly. And when we know how to respect the boundaries in place for everyone, we can achieve better relationships with others and have the more emotional energy for ourselves.