Boundaries are essential for thriving personal relationships. But how do you build and maintain them?
What is a Boundary?
A boundary is a way to take care of yourself. Here is what it is NOT:
A rigid line drawn
An immovable opinion
A way to manipulate
Boundaries are ways to set limits and rules for ourselves in our relationships. They allow us to say ‘no’ when we feel it is necessary. They are tools for taking care of our emotional well-being. If used correctly, boundaries can help you avoid negative feelings like anger and resentment. By clearly communicating boundaries you are giving yourself limits that allow you to stay in your best emotional state.
Boundaries can take many forms. If your boundaries are too rigid, you may not involve yourself too heavily with others. You may feel detached or avoid close relationships. If your boundaries are too loose you may have a hard time saying ‘no’ or overshare and get too involved in others.
Setting healthy boundaries, ones where you strike a fine balance between the examples above, can be difficult. But, once you practice you will see all the positive effects healthy boundary setting has on you and your personal relationships.
Types of Boundaries
The boundaries you set are dependent on what type you need. These change based on the kind of relationship you are dealing with! According to most psychologists, there are 5 types of boundaries. These include:
Emotional - these are feeling based boundaries. They revolve around your comfort levels with your emotions in relation to others.
Physical - these refer to your personal space, body, and privacy.
Sexual - these revolve around intimacy.
Intellectual - these are in reference to your personal thoughts, ideas, and opinions.
Financial - these are your boundaries regarding money and how it is spent.
When expressing and setting boundaries, be sure to factor in what kind of boundary it is.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
The first step in setting boundaries is reflecting on yourself and your relationships. You need to know what you want and need in order to express it fully. Go over past relationships and trigger points with yourself so you can think what future you will need.
Once you have your basic boundaries figured out, set them! Set them early in your new relationships with friends, partners, bosses, etc. Putting boundaries in pre-existing relationships can be difficult, but those that have been around you for a while may already be able to gauge your boundaries. If a moment comes up when someone in your life is pushing the limits, firmly tell them your boundary and why you have it in place.
Consistently enforce boundaries with the people in your life. It can be hard when you are first implementing them. But, be careful to not let them slide as you may set an unclear expectation for the future.
Talk openly with friends and loved ones about your boundaries. Explain them as best as you can. You may also inspire others to set boundaries and create a well-rounded personal relationship for yourself.
Be open to changing your boundaries. They do not have to be static, and as you go through life you may find yourself tweaking them, adding some, and subtracting some. Do not be afraid to create more as you realize the things that trigger you.
The Importance of Healthy Boundaries
Boundary setting is incredibly important if you want your personal relationships to thrive. They allow clear communication and help you maintain your self-worth. If there is someone in your life who refuses to accept your boundaries, then they are not worth keeping around. By figuring out and setting boundaries, you are setting yourself and your relationships up for success!