Healthy boundaries are essential to our well being. Maintaining these boundaries allows us to live with less stress, manage our lives more effectively and helps protect us from future problems within our personal and professional relationships. But, how do we know when these boundaries have been violated? And how do we set boundaries? Let's begin with a quick definition of what exactly a boundary is, as well as its significance for both our personal life and our work life. Boundaries define the limits we set with other people. A healthy sense of self-worth is vital for knowing where those boundaries are and what we find acceptable or unacceptable.
Defining boundaries and setting limits
A boundary is a "personal property line" that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances — Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions — Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others — Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God's will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator. Setting healthy boundaries is an important aspect of self-care. However, it can be difficult for some people to set appropriate physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional limits with others because they fear rejection or retribution if they assert themselves. As a result, many people feel trapped by the demands of others, experiencing resentment and anger as a result. Others may struggle with setting personal boundaries in romantic relationships because they fear abandonment or lack the self-esteem necessary to maintain them. Boundaries can also be difficult to set in a workplace setting where you may feel you need to work longer hours than you want in order to maintain your job or position. Setting healthy personal boundaries is essential for taking control of your life.
It is crucial to learn how to set boundaries with people. Personal boundaries help you to decide what types of communication, behavior and interaction are acceptable for you, and what are not. When you are being assertive, you are expressing yourself in a way that is honest and respectful. You may be saying "no" to someone or "yes" to protecting yourself. Some examples of assertive behavior include:
Asking a friend who often borrows money from you not to do so anymore
Telling your boss if you feel that your workload is too much
Telling a relative that you don't appreciate personal comments they make about your lifestyle
Ending an unhealthy relationship
Telling someone how their behavior makes you feel
Practice makes perfect
It's important to remember that the other person may not know they've crossed a boundary, or they may feel justified in what they're doing.
It's also possible that in some cases, the other person is looking for a reaction. In this case, you want to be sure not to get drawn into an argument but simply to set the boundary and remind them of it if they cross it again.
Avoid the temptation to explain why you're setting your boundaries or make excuses for your behavior.
While it can be challenging to set boundaries with certain people, such as family members or close friends, it's always better for everyone involved in the long run if you communicate your needs clearly and stick up for yourself.
A “Boundary Chart” will guide you through
Create a “Boundary Chart” which outlines each boundary per each relationship category. For example: friends, family members, significant others, co-workers, etc. This way you can keep track of how often they break your boundaries. Then you can determine if you need to confront them or end the relationship altogether because they haven’t respected your limitations.
Setting limits with others is just as important as setting boundaries for yourself. It’s vital that you take the time to define the borders of your personal space, so that you can start drawing lines for what others are allowed to do and say. And once you know what your emotional, personal, and physical limits are, it’s time to start enforcing them. Because once you do that, you’ll be able to relax a bit more in those situations, knowing that you are standing up for yourself once again. Setting boundaries really is a lot like exercising–and trust me, it’s worth it!