Boundaries are guidelines, rules, or limits you create for your own physical and emotional well-being that you expect others to respect in their relationship with you. Boundaries help you decide what types of communication, behavior, and interactions are acceptable. Establishing and maintaining boundaries is essential if you want to be both physically and emotionally healthy.
Creating healthy boundaries allows you to:
- Have high self-esteem and self-respect.
- Share personal information gradually, in a mutually sharing and trusting relationship.
- Protect physical and emotional space from intrusion.
- Separate your needs, thoughts, feelings, and desires from others. Recognize that your boundaries and needs are different from others.
- Empower yourself to make healthy choices and take responsibility for yourself.
Unhealthy boundaries cause emotional pain that can lead to codependency, depression, anxiety, and even stress-induced physical illness. A lack of boundaries is like leaving the door to your home unlocked. Anyone, including unwelcome guests, can enter at will and take advantage of the situation. On the other hand, having too rigid boundaries can lead to isolation, like living in a castle surrounded by a moat. No one can get in and you can’t get out.
UNHEALTHY BOUNDARIES are characterized by:
- Sharing too much too soon or, at the other end of the spectrum, closing yourself off and not expressing your needs and wants.
- Feeling responsible for others’ happiness
- Inability to say “no” for fear of rejection, abandonment, or judgment
- Going against personal values or rights to please others.
- Letting others direct your life.
Barriers to Boundary Setting
It seems obvious that no one would want his/her boundaries violated. So why do we allow it? Why do we NOT enforce or uphold our boundaries?
- FEAR of rejection and, ultimately, abandonment.
- FEAR of confrontation.
- We were not taught healthy boundaries.
- Safety Concerns
Tips for Setting Healthy Boundaries
When you identify the need to set a boundary, do it clearly, calmly, firmly, and respectfully. You do not have to justify, get angry, or apologize for the boundary you are setting.
You are not responsible for the other person’s reaction to the boundary you are setting. You are only responsible for communicating your boundary in a respectful manner. If it upsets them, know it is their problem. Their anger does not overrule your right to say no or set limits with them. Some people, especially those accustomed to controlling, abusing, or manipulating you, benefit from you not having healthy boundaries, so they might test you. Plan on it, expect it, but remain firm. Remember, your behavior must match the boundaries you are setting. You cannot successfully establish a clear boundary if you send mixed messages by apologizing or giving in.
At first, you will probably feel selfish, guilty, or embarrassed when you set a boundary. Do it anyway and remind yourself you have a right to self-care. Setting boundaries takes practice and determination. Don’t let anxiety, fear or guilt prevent you from taking care of yourself.
Remember setting boundaries is essential if you want to be both physically and emotionally healthy. By recognizing the need to set and enforce limits, you protect your self-esteem, maintain self-respect, and enjoy healthy relationships.
If you would like to have healthier relationships and learn more about healthy boundaries, send us a message! We would be honored to help!