Whilst many people think of boundaries as something concrete or fixed to help keep people out of a building for example, it’s easy to forget the importance of personal boundaries, and the limits to what you will and will not tolerate in your personal life.
Your personal boundaries are not rigid lines drawn in the sand, but flexible, shifting guidelines, setting a standard for how you treat others, expect to be treated in return and what behaviours you allow into your personal space.
Setting healthy personal boundaries helps maintain your mental health and wellbeing, and most people find they are a mix of strict boundaries and more relaxed ones that create the best balance. But it does mean it’s important to re-examine your boundaries as part of your own self care, because showing yourself this kindness and compassion reaffirms you are worth it.
Acknowledging healthy boundaries helps you feel more stable and secure in yourself day to day, and more connected to your own identity and sense of self. Many people also find that having healthy boundaries that are respected help them avoid reaching the ‘burn out phase’ in turn helping them feel more in control, energised and capable within themselves.
It’s no surprise that different areas of life, might require different boundaries, because your expectations and limits are incredibly personal to you. So we below are listed some areas for you to consider and reflect on:
This refers to your personal space, your privacy, and your body. Whether you are someone who is comfortable with public displays of affection (hugs, kisses, and hand-holding) or now, your physical boundaries are always worth respecting – and that’s from yourself and others.
These are your expectations concerning intimacy, and it’s important to be clear for yourself what your expectations are, as well as any partner.
These boundaries concern your thoughts and beliefs. Intellectual boundaries are not respected when someone dismisses another person’s ideas and opinions, and acknowledging your own intellectual boundaries as well as having them respected by others can help you feel valued and empowered.
Referring to a persons feelings, we should first note, there is no wrong or right way to set boundaries regarding your emotions, but knowing they are valid is an important step.
You might not feel comfortable sharing your feelings about everything with a friend or partner, instead, you may be the kind of person who prefers to share gradually over time, and that too is perfectly allowed. How you consider your feelings, process of accepting them and setting boundaries around them will always have an impact on your emotional wellbeing, so they are serving of your compassion.
As you can tell, it is all about money. How you consider money, spending, saving are all parts of your limits and boundaries, not just the physical stuff. You might have imaginary guidelines that dictate spending, and these become a form of boundaries, just as much as a bank balance.
When you are ready to establish or adjust your boundaries, it’s worthwhile taking all areas into account.
Knowing how and when to separate your thoughts and feelings from other people, is an important part of our boundaries. Having boundaries means our own thoughts and feelings don’t become blurred with other peoples opinions and expectations, and it gives you your own space to live your life, not someone else's!
If you find you are regularly coming away from situations or people feeling drained, anxious or unhappy in some way, it’s likely your boundaries have breached.
Consistently breached boundaries often lead to emotional and physical fatigue, especially if you are constantly trying to manage someone or something exhausting.
As we look towards boundaries therefor as a form of self care, self love and health and wellbeing maintenance, we can look at how to set and maintain healthy boundaries in our idea list below.
It’s ok to start small
If you don’t have many boundaries in place already, the prospect of introducing more might seem overwhelming — so build them up slowly if you need to.
Beginning with smaller areas of life means you can take things at a more comfortable pace, and it also provides time to reflect on whether this works for you or if you need to change things a little. So remember to stay flexible in your mind about them!
Set them early
It can be more challenging to adjust boundaries in established relationships or situations, so when you can, make boundaries clear from the outset. Whilst it’s not always possible, you can draw a line and consider things “from this moment on”, because setting boundaries and expectations from the beginning allows everyone to know where they stand.
Letting boundaries slide can lead to confusion and encourage new expectations and demands among those around you. Keeping things consistent and steady sends an important signal, and helps reinforce your original thresholds and beliefs.
Create a framework
Boundaries vary in different types of relationship, but it can be helpful to have some basics in place that can be adapted accordingly. Consider getting an hour or two of alone time each weekend. This boundary could apply whether you live with a partner, have a busy social schedule with friends, or are close with your family.
Be aware of social media
These platforms allow for more communication than ever, but they’ve also encouraged some considerable boundary blurring in the form of over sharing. Whether this is in the form of others sharing your personal information, commenting or tagging inappropriately, or sharing their own personal information that you feel is incorrect or unnecessary – clear boundaries are important.
If you feel a particular action crosses a boundary, it’s no less important simply because it’s digital. You never need to continue exposing yourself to social media that upset or frustrates you, and you don’t need to justify for yourself to others.
Talk, even when it's challenging
Communication is the key to great boundaries, especially if someone consistently oversteps yours. While you might need to raise your concerns, discussions don’t need to be confrontational, which is worth remembering if you are someone who tends to avoid confrontations in any form.
You have the communication skills to manage any situation or relationship, and It’s often finding the best wording to address it.
For example, if you have a friend who sends messages nonstop, consider something along the lines, of “I can see you really wanted to get hold of me, but the best thing to do is drop me a message, and I’ll get back to you when I can”. You can gently highlight behaviours while simultaneously asserting your threshold.
Gain some perspective
Having little or no boundaries can negatively impact out mental health, but going too far and over-thinking them can also impact our emotional well-being. Whilst it can be difficult to gain a sense of balance, stay flexible and whilst you can be conscious of them, you don’t need to be dictated by them either.
Be your biggest champion
Boundaries need a strong foundation, you need to show yourself some love, to know your worth these boundaries. Inner chatter of your mind stating you’re worthless or undeserving are going to hinder your efforts to create boundaries. Setting or adjusting boundaries is wrapped in self worth and self love so if you feel that that’s a sticking point it’s time to consciously work on your mindset.
The more you engage in activities that encourage positive feelings, such as singing, exercising, yoga, meditation, or using mantras that release feel-good hormones, then your going to help change your internal critical dialogue and make you feel more positive and optimistic.
As we conclude, it's important to understand that your boundaries are essential for various reasons, but will look different to everyone.
Never feel guilty about setting boundaries, because they are essentially a form of self care, and we can actively include them in daily life, and your energy levels and mental wellbeing will thank you for it.