A boundary is a line that marks the end of a particular area and the beginning of another area. Boundaries establish a line between what is comfortable and what is not comfortable. The difference between what an individual considers acceptable and unacceptable can also be tagged as boundaries.
Boundaries apply to any type of relationship a person is in, be it family, friend, coworker, partner, and anyone else entirely. Boundaries help to shape interactions with people and help maintain a tolerable and principled relationship with people.
WHAT ARE BOUNDARIES?
Boundaries are limits and constraints we set to safeguard our emotional, physical, and mental well-being. Boundaries define what is acceptable and unacceptable in our relationship with others. Boundaries are vital for a healthy relationship, to build self-respect and self-esteem and it is important for personal growth.
Boundaries are how we communicate what we consider intolerable to others. They could range from personal boundaries such as personal space, to emotional boundaries such as preventing others from looking down on you or making you feel guilty. Boundaries may also be social, such as not engaging in gossip or refusing to participate in certain activities that go against one’s values.
Boundaries are sometimes hard, especially if the boundaries being created have been overstepped before. It would be courageous to stand up for one’s self and communicate one’s emotions and expectations. It would take time and practice to put some boundaries into place.
Establishing a healthy boundary can create an environment of trust and respect that one can use to empower themselves to make choices that align with their values.
Boundaries are a fundamental aspect of human relationships and communication, it defines the limit and expectation of what an acceptable manner of behavior is. They may be regarded as invisible lines we draw ourselves which distinguish what we can tolerate from what we can not and they would determine how we interact with others and the people close to us. Boundaries can be physical, intellectual, spiritual, or emotional, and they act as guards which protect our personal identity and personal space.
Setting boundaries is an essential skill for fostering healthy relationships and communication. When we fail to set bounds or allow others to overstep a certain degree of what we can tolerate, it can lead to severe stress, conflict, and grievance. Boundaries help us maintain our self-respect and dignity, and they allow us to engage with others on a more reasonable and meaningful level.
HOW TO SET BOUNDARIES?
As earlier discussed, failure to set boundaries would lead to unhealthy relationships and communications with people. To prevent conflict and ensure the proper maintenance of healthy relationships, setting boundaries is an essential part that would not only maintain our relationships but improve our personal growth.
Boundaries are rules we set for ourselves and the people around us define to what extent we would not tolerate certain things from people. It is easy to become overwhelmed, stressed, and resentful in our relationships if boundaries are not put in place. Below are some practical ways to set boundaries in any area of our lives.
- Determine your boundaries: The first step to setting boundaries is to identify what is important to you. Analyze your values, principles, beliefs, and priorities as you draft what would be an appropriate boundary that aligns with your values. Recognize areas where you feel uncomfortable or where you feel your boundary has been crossed and then identify behaviors and situations which make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
- Communicate your boundaries with clarity: After identification of your boundaries, it is important to communicate these boundaries to others with clarity. This can be done through body language, written communication, or through verbal communication. When communicating boundaries, be it emotional boundaries or personal boundaries, ensure you are firm but polite, being rude to people about your boundaries makes them too self-aware when around you and that can hinder personal relationships with people. Be sure to explain why the boundary is important to you and how you feel when the boundaries are overstepped.
- Consistency: Do not shuffle your boundaries. It would be counterproductive to create and then dissemble boundaries that you have created at any time. It is important to stick to the boundaries you have created with someone to avoid misunderstandings and conflict. If you give someone the space to overstep your boundaries, they likely would continue in that manner. Be consistent in your behavior so that people are aware of what to expect from you.
- Have a strong conviction: Learn to say no, saying no is vital I’m setting boundaries. Do not allow yourself to be swayed by words or people’s actions. Your boundaries should be firm and clear. Many individuals struggle with saying no so they do not come off as rude or uptight. Be firm, clear, and concise when saying no to avoid creating excuses and making apologies.
- Take full responsibility for your boundaries: The goal of setting boundaries is to create an understanding of what you can tolerate with others. Setting boundaries for yourself is your responsibility and yours alone. No one would come around with a sheet of paper to help you draft out your boundaries. It is a step that you have to be responsible for.
- Properly manage your emotions: Setting boundaries could be emotional when considering people’s feelings and needs over your own. It is important to learn to properly manage those emotions when setting boundaries. Take time to understand and consider your friends and family while ensuring your values are not compromised while setting your personal boundaries.
- Practice Self-care and seek support: Self-care is vital to setting boundaries. Taking care of yourself and knowing yourself well enough can help in communicating and enforcing your boundaries. Although at times setting boundaries can be challenging alone, seeking support from a friend or family member can make a lot of difference.
TYPES OF BOUNDARIES
There are many types of boundaries that exist in various areas of our lives and some of the most common types of boundaries include:
- Physical boundaries are boundaries that refer to the space we keep between others and ourselves. It includes the personal space we maintain and our possessions.
- Emotional boundaries are boundaries and limits we set on our emotional interactions with others. They include the level of intimacy we share with others and even the kind of emotion we share with others. Emotional boundaries are important in maintaining our emotional well-being.
- Social boundaries are boundaries we establish when dealing with others in social situations. These boundaries vary depending on culture, personal values, and relationships with others.
- Mental boundaries are boundaries we set on our thoughts and beliefs. These boundaries include the types of thoughts we allow ourselves to have and the level of exposure we have to certain information or ideas. Mental boundaries are important in maintaining our mental well-being and protecting ourselves from negative thinking patterns and harmful belief systems.
- Material boundaries are the limits we set on the types of possessions we have, how we handle them, how we share them, and how we use them. Material boundaries help maintain our financial well-being and protect us from financial harm.
HOW TO SET PERSONAL BOUNDARIES?
Setting personal boundaries is not selfish, it is an act of self-respect and self-love. Without boundaries, we give others leeway to take advantage of us. Setting personal boundaries is not entirely different from how you set other boundaries for yourself. To set personal boundaries, first, you have to identify what you are comfortable with and draw a line where a situation becomes uncomfortable, unsafe, or intolerable.
Determine to what extent these conditions affect your quality of life and your relationship with people. These personal boundaries can include personal space, the time you are available to others, how you interact with others, and how much information and emotion you share with others.
The next step would be to voice your boundaries. No one would be aware of your boundaries without you informing them about it. Communicating your feelings and the boundaries you have would help improve and maintain healthy relationships. Be assertive and polite when communicating your boundaries to the people around you.
Setting boundaries can easily become overwhelming especially if you do not set them often. It can be easier to start by setting small boundaries. Practicing self-care would help you set personal boundaries by prioritizing your well-being. Always strive to remain consistent with your boundaries. It is important to stay committed to the boundaries to ensure they are properly enforced and would not be brushed off by others.
Boundaries exist to help us maintain proper relationships and communicate effectively to others the type of things we can tolerate and be comfortable with. It is important to set boundaries and maintain them to improve physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Setting boundaries may prove difficult at first but with practice and support from friends, family, or even a therapist, creating boundaries and sticking to them would get easier.