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Setting Healthy Boundaries

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

How you ever been in a situation where a friend of yours was getting a little too involved in your life and you let him/her because saying anything would sound too rude? If yes, then hey friend I have been in a similar situation and so I know how does it feel when people try to operate you and your life as if either it’s their life too or you are a robot.

There comes the concept of the boundary. Boundaries are not rigid lines drawn in the sand that is clear for all to see, they are a limit or space between you and the other person; a clear place where you begin and the other person ends. The purpose of setting a healthy boundary is, of course, to protect and take good care of you. When someone tries to involve more than they should that’s when you should let them know what are your boundaries and what are the things you are okay with and also the things you are not. You don’t need to be okay with things you are not okay with.

Also Read: The art of saying no

Setting up healthy boundaries is a form of self-care and is a very important one. Without boundaries, we feel depleted, taken advantage of, taken for granted, or intruded upon. Whether it’s in work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries may lead to resentment, hurt, anger, and burnout. Boundaries help us take care of ourselves by giving us permission to say NO to things, to not take everything on. Boundaries draw a clear line around what is ok for us and what is not. While some behaviors clearly cross the line for almost anyone, we all have different comfort levels when it comes to everything from intimacy and privacy to lateness. When someone behaves in a way that doesn’t feel ok to us that crosses our line, we need to take care of ourselves by letting them know and making that line much clearer. Be it any kind of relationship, boundaries are a crucial part and should be defined very clearly in order to have a long and healthy bond. Why will two people drift apart if they are respected and treated right because their boundaries are defined, taken care of, and hence the communication is effective. One thing I learnt lately is that communication is not the key, comprehension is. You can be good at communicating but if the other person is not ready to listen and understand, it won’t mean anything.

This leads to the question, what do healthy boundaries look like? They look more like verbalizing what impacts your comfort levels, learning how and when to say no, being honest and transparent, knowing how to expand or constrict the boundaries we set.

Here’s how you can set up Healthy Boundaries: -

  1. Enjoy some self-reflection: The first step in having healthy boundaries in any situation is spending the time to explore what’s happening to you.

  2. Start small: If you don’t have many boundaries in place already, the prospect of introducing more might seem overwhelming so build them up slowly. Doing so allows you to take things at a more comfortable pace, and it provides time to reflect on whether it’s heading in the right direction or if you need to make some tweaks.

  3. Set them early: By setting boundaries and expectations from the very beginning, everyone knows where they stand, and feelings of hurt, confusion, and frustration can be lessened.

  4. Create a framework: Consider getting an hour or two of alone time each weekend. This boundary could apply whether you live with a partner, have a busy social schedule with friends, or are close with your family.

  5. Be aware of social media: These platforms allow for more communication than ever, but they’ve also encouraged some considerable boundary blurring.

  6. Communicate: Communication is critical in the world of boundaries, especially if someone consistently oversteps yours. While you might need to raise your concerns, these discussions need not be confrontational. For example, if you have a friend who sends messages nonstop, saying something along the lines of, “‘I can see you really wanted to get hold of me, but the best thing to do is drop me a message, and I’ll get back to you when I can.’” This gently highlights their behavior while simultaneously asserting your threshold.

  7. Be your biggest champion: For boundaries to have a strong foundation, you need to show yourself a bit of love. If you have a voice in your head that says you’re worthless and undeserving, then you’re going to find it difficult to put boundaries in place that protect you. A lot of it comes down to self-worth and self-value.

  8. Recognizing the boundaries of others: In addition to setting your own boundaries, it’s important to appreciate those of others, too even if they’re different from your own. So how can you determine what they are? There’s no magic science, If you’re concerned or unsure, just ask. The conversation doesn’t have to be awkward or confrontational. Say something like, ‘Can I message you later?’ or ‘When is it good to message?’

You might like: Breaking the Biases

When both people ask permission, take one another’s feelings into account, show gratitude, are honest, give space for autonomy and avoid codependence, show respect for differences in opinion, perspective, and feelings, sit with the other person’s communication of emotion, take responsibility for their actions that’s what a healthy relationship with defined boundaries look like. The types of boundaries one might set depend on the setting. That is, one person’s healthy boundaries with a romantic partner will be very different from that same person’s healthy boundaries with a boss or coworker. Setting boundaries isn’t always comfortable and people may push back if you say NO to some things or try communicating your needs more clearly. People may try to test your limits, to see how serious you are about drawing the line. Or they may be used to you responding in a certain way (agreeing to take on everything), and they may push back when you try to make some changes. That doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong. It may just mean that you need to be clear and consistent until people adjust to the new way of interacting.

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others ~ Bren Brown
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