Boundaries are the limits we set ourselves, it also refers to taking responsibility for your actions and one another’s feelings.
These boundaries can differ from person to person through culture, personality and social context.
Setting healthy boundaries is important for self-care and positive relationships.
Why should we set boundaries?
We may struggle with setting boundaries for many reasons including fear of rejection, being afraid of getting hurt or not actually understanding what boundaries are. However, setting boundaries defines our expectations of ourselves and others in different kinds of relationships in both our professional and personal lives.
How do we set healthy boundaries
When setting healthy boundaries, we need to be clear about our expectations for ourselves and others. We need to be self-aware and identify when we feel comfortable in situations.
When setting boundaries try to communicate and express your feelings openly and respectfully. Be clear but do not raise your voice.
So, what are those boundaries?
1. Physical boundaries
Physical boundaries protect your body and physical space. Healthy physical boundaries include an awareness of what feels appropriate or not in various situations and types of relationships. These boundaries may be disturbed if someone touches you when you don’t want them or your space infringed on when you are needing it.
2. Sexual boundaries
Sexual boundaries protect your right to consent. Healthy sexual boundaries involve mutual understanding and respect. These boundaries help define what sexual touch and intimacy you want, how often, when, where and with whom.
3. Emotional boundaries
Emotional and mental boundaries help you protect your right to your own feelings and thoughts. Our emotional boundaries can be infringed when we our criticised, belittled or our feelings and thoughts feel invalidated. Healthy boundaries allow us to respect each other’s feelings as well as how, what and when we share personal information appropriate to the relationship we are in.
4. Time boundaries
Time boundaries refer to how we manage our time. When we are able to set aside adequate time for aspects of our life such as work, relationships and hobbies we have a healthy time boundary. When you understand your priorities, it is easier to limit the amount of time you are giving to other people.
5. Financial and material boundaries
Having financial and material boundaries protects your financial resources and possessions. Setting material boundaries will help you with what you want to share and with whom. Healthy financial boundaries help you spend your money as you choose giving you the choice when or if you loan money or possessions.
Being curious about our boundaries
When we reflect on our boundaries it can be helpful to be curious about our current boundaries. However, remember your boundaries may be different with different people, for example in work, with friends and with your family. Sometimes when we are growing up, we are taught that expressing our own needs is bad and selfish and at other times we are just not heard. However, not setting healthy boundaries in adulthood (even if doing so may feel uncomfortable) could result in settling for unhealthy relationships.
Inflexible rules about what you will do and what you won’t do.
Setting high expectations of what others should do or shouldn’t do.
The need to feel in control.
Running the risk of feeling misunderstood.
Avoiding intimacy out of a fear of getting hurt and feeling vulnerable.
Being quick to cut off relationships.
People-pleasing, struggling to say no or adapt to the needs of others.
Over sharing information.
Not asking for what you want or what you need.
Craving validation and support from others.
Bering clear about your wants and needs without feeling guilty.
Respecting the limits and boundaries of others.
A strong sense of who you are and what is important for you.