“Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices.”
– Gerard Manley Hopkins
Our personal boundaries are the limits we establish physically, emotionally, and mentally to protect ourselves from being used, abused, or manipulated.
If you find yourself avoiding others, feeling overwhelmed, resentful, not knowing when and how to say no, it may be time to reset your boundaries. When we don’t have healthy boundaries, we feel vulnerable, exploited, taken for granted, or intruded upon. All of which start impact our relationships and ultimately our mental health wellbeing.
The importance of setting boundaries
Personal boundaries help us sustain positive, supportive and caring relationships. They do this by allowing us to feel safe in relationships and thus motivating us to build trusting bonds. Boundaries allow us to take care of ourselves by saying no to things we don’t want or can handle at the time. Hence making us feel valued and important. Boundaries define to others what is and is not permissible for us. In basic terms, boundaries tell people what is okay and what is not okay for us. When someone behaves in a way we disagree with, boundaries protect us by informing and making clear to them what is allowed and what is not.
Key benefits of setting boundaries
- Boosts your self-esteem and promotes self-respect
- Boost your sense of self-identity
- Reduces burnout by allowing time for yourself
- Increases your sense of safety with others thus promoting better relationships
- Enables people to treat you with respect
- Allows us to accept our limitations and not provide others with unreasonable expectations
- Allows you to see your needs as being important
Putting yourself first can be challenging, as it’s one of the skills not always taught while growing up. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, whereby constantly doing for others is more valued and saying “no” is considered rude and or selfish. The good news is, we can always start now, and slowly start to implement boundaries in our lives. We’ve compiled a list of some of the tips that will help you in the journey of setting boundaries.
- Take some time to reflect on why the boundary is important to you and how it will benefit your wellbeing.
- Take time to think about what someone is asking of you. You do not have to respond right away.
- Be consistent. You can confuse those around you if you go back and forth with a boundary.
- Communicate clearly. Don’t assume people should know, instead ensure that are you stating your needs
- Be ready to feel uncomfortable. If people are not used to you saying no, it will take some time for the new norm to be accepted.
- Start to learn and respect other people’s boundaries as well. This will allow you to say no in a more compassionate way.
- Learn the language of boundary setting. One does not have to be aggressive while saying no. One does not have to explain or justify why either.
- Keep in mind, setting boundaries is a way of caring for yourself. It does not make you rude, mean or selfish.