4 Ways To Create Healthy Boundaries: The What, When and How
In a previous video, I walked you through the importance of having healthy boundaries. Today, I want to break down the stigma that accompanies the big B-word, and dismantle the doubt of its importance.
We get three types of boundaries: physical, verbal, and emotional or personal. Today, we're focusing on emotional boundaries, when to set them, why it's important to do so. Whether it's for our relationships, careers, family life, friendships, boundaries are paramount in every aspect of our lives.
So, what are they?
The dictionary describes boundaries as:
"Guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits."
In other words: Here's my line. Please don't cross it. Period.
As simple as that sounds, healthy boundaries are often hard to maintain because people will find ways to forget what we need and we will find ways to bend, usually due to some fear based reason.
It's important to know that boundaries are not created to cave ourselves in and block the world off around us. They are set to make sure we remain emotionally and mentally stable, and maintain our inner peace and wellbeing, allowing us to have peace of mind.
Ultimately, healthy boundaries are a sign of self care and respect.
Why do I need healthy boundaries in the first place?
They can be the the difference between a healthy, happy, kind relationship and a destructive or dysfunctional one.
Boundaries can be the difference between a good night's rest and feeling chaos and on edge the next morning.
Having people show up respectfully in your life or sucking the life out of you.
They can be a you as a successful business person or a life that is struggling to take root.
A lack of healthy boundaries can look anything like:
violating your privacy
being forced to do things you don't want to or like
being pushed around
preying on your self esteem
not taking no for an answer
being touched without your permission (and it doesn't have to be sexual to be in your space)
someone making you feel guilty to get their way
demanding, especially of the time and energy that you don't have or want to give.
You'll know this when you're in any of these kind of situations or relationships. As you begin to pay attention, these lines crossed will become more apparent to you.
When is it time to set healthy boundaries?
Now is a good a time as any. If you find yourself in any of the above situations, now is a good time as any to start, because if we continue to do things that are less pleasing, we become resentful, we feel like a doormat and we push people out.
Healthy boundaries can keep us from closing up and locking ourselves in. And as essential as they are, they are one of the hardest things to maintain because we're afraid and people don't always react the way we hope, and a myriad things that can result from that.
They may end the relationship, hurt us, not be so accepting of us anymore, lay on the guilt, etc, etc. Rest in this fact: anyone who respects you will respect what accompanies you.
Where to start
To set healthy boundaries, whether in your job, your love relationship, your friendships, etc, it's of utmost importance to know what is accepted and what is not. You need to know what you're willing to handle and what you're not, what you're willing to tolerate and what you're not.
For example, flirting or cheating in a relationship might be unacceptable, while the occasional nagging of a friend is something you've learned to be okay with. By knowing yourself better you can begin to understand what you're willing to accept and what behaviors are way off for you, and then communicate it in a clear way.
Know that when you set your preferences, it's either going to enhance or sabotage that relationship.
When your boundaries are crossed, when you feel uncomfortable, when you don't want to do something and it's out of alignment to what you represent, here are four things I'm asking you to be open to:
1. Start Small
Like any new skill, you don't want to feel overwhelmed. Take incremental steps with something small so you can build toward the bigger no. Think of the smallest thing that doesn't sit well with you, and as you get used to getting respect from that and being comfortable with it, you can go on to bigger things.
2. Address It Immediately
When lines are crossed, It's important to bring it up right away. If you don't, it's already lost it's power. Don't hesitate. People forget within seconds. When doing or promising something today, they might not remember it tomorrow, because it's based on your experience, not theirs.
So, it's your job to point it out and leave the rest to them. Address it immediately every time, as this becomes habitual for you and a new habit in the making for them too.
3. Clear Communication
Always communicate as clearly as possible. Don't mince words or send mixed signals because of fear of how it will be received. Firmness is a great added ingredient that accompanies clarity. And realize, with some people, you're going to need to be more direct about your preferences.
4. Know Your Values
Lastly, and I think this is the most important because this is going to determine how serious you take yourself: know your values, because if you know your values, it's harder to let yourself get tossed around.
When you know your values, you're going to seek out relationships that nourish and complement those values you have, and you're less likely going to seek out toxic situations.
Give yourself the permission to set good, healthy boundaries that work for you and your needs. Then work to maintain them, because it is a practice and you're gonna break them too sometimes. Like most things, it may take some practice and a lot of patience.
If you found this post helpful, please share it with someone who may benefit from it. Thank you for your support! I would love to hear from you in the comments.